Monday, April 22, 2019

Ignorance Or A Stab In The Back

There is one LGbtq+ organization that many trans people feel that they stabbed us in the back in 2007 with supporting a non-trans inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and that organization is the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). At the time of the back stabbing it was run by Joe Solmonese.
Gay national leader to head Dem 2020 prez convention
Bay Area Reporter
By Matthew S. Bajko
March 26, 2019

The Democratic National Committee has tapped gay rights leader Joe Solmonese to be chief executive officer of the 2020 Democratic National Convention Committee. The former president of the Washington, D.C.-based LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign will oversee the preparations for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination gathering in Milwaukee, Wisconsin next summer.

"The opportunity to lead the 2020 convention is a tremendous honor and I'm prepared to hit the ground running," said Solmonese, who most recently served as the transition chair of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "There is no better time than now to be a Democrat and next summer we will showcase the ideals and diversity that make our party, the city of Milwaukee, and our nominee special to the American people."

He oversaw HRC from 2005 to 2012 during the time when the national debate over same-sex marriage rights was the focus of legal fights in numerous states, including California, and in the federal courts. While Solmonese led the organization's successful fight to repeal the military's homophobic "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, he also came under withering attack from the LGBT community for not supporting a transgender inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2007. HRC's stance led to its San Francisco gala being picketed by local activists and LGBT officials.
So the questions are… did the DNC know of Joe Solmonese relationship with the trans community? if they knew did the DNC decide to write us off?
Editorial: Trans speaker needed at DNC convention
Bay Area Reporter
By BAR Editorial Board
April 3, 2019

The Democratic National Committee has chosen Joe Solmonese, a gay man, as chief executive officer for the 2020 convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His selection represents a remarkable achievement for LGBT people and a symbol of the Democratic Party's commitment to inclusivity and equality. He can reinforce those values by selecting an out trans person to deliver a prime time address.

Solmonese's tattered reputation in the trans community dates back to his former position as president of the Human Rights Campaign. At the time the national gay rights group had a poor record representing the "T" in LGBT. That disconnect was starkly apparent more than a decade ago in 2007, when congressional Democrats were divided on whether to include trans people in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Ultimately, gay former Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank (D) decided to split the bill in two — one that would address sexual orientation only and one that would include gender identity. Frank took his plan to then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who delayed the vote when word got out about the split bill and massive community mobilization ensued. HRC, however, tried to have it both ways: it reaffirmed its 2004 position of supporting a trans-inclusive ENDA, but would not lobby members of Congress against voting for the trans-exclusive bill. As ENDA's primary cheerleader outside of Congress, Solmonese came under withering attack from the LGBT community. That year, local activists and LGBT officials picketed HRC's San Francisco gala in response. Solmonese himself later came to San Francisco for a closed-door meeting with trans community leaders, a session that went poorly, as reported in the Bay Area Reporter. In November 2007, the House passed the trans-exclusive ENDA, but it died when that session of Congress ended. Today, HRC is more trans-friendly and regularly speaks out on trans issues. But among some trans community members, the organization will never truly represent them.
I understand why the DNC picked someone from the LGBT community to run the convention; to counter Trump and the Republicans anti-LGBTQ+ stance but more to the point Trump’s anti-trans military and education prejudices. But is there a better way to do that than to appoint Joe Solmonese? The only person worse than him is Elizabeth Birch.

The editorial goes on to make some suggestions on speakers at the convention
Danica Roem is a Democratic state legislator from Virginia. She is the first out trans person elected to the Virginia General Assembly and, in January 2018, became the first to both be elected and serve while openly transgender in any U.S. state legislature. Roem is also up for re-election this year. She would be an inspiring speaker both for delegates and those tuning in at home.

Lisa Middleton is a Democratic city council member from Palm Springs, California. She made history by being the first transgender person elected in California for a non-judicial position in November 2017. She has an inspiring personal story and can attest to the needs of older Americans, and how Palm Springs, a city known for its retirees, is inclusive of everyone.

Adam Spickler was appointed to the Cabrillo Community College Board of Trustees in Santa Cruz County last year after no one else filed to run in the election. He's the first trans man to hold public office in California. In light of the federal Education Department's war on LGBT students, Spickler could offer a powerful counterpoint. Additionally, many of the current Democratic presidential candidates support free community college, so the topic will probably be addressed at the national convention.

An obvious choice would be a trans service member. Democrats must always highlight that they are not "soft" on the military and an actual service member would personalize the president's misguided ban, which is opposed by many current and former military officials.

In short, Solmonese has myriad possibilities for an out trans convention speaker.
Two other good candidates for speakers are…

  • Dylan Orr – Special Assistant for the Labor Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy
  • Amanda Simpson – Executive Director of the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives (OEI)

So was it a back stabbing or short shortsightedness?

2007: The year of betrayal
  • In April, Rep. Barney Franks introduces a gender-inclusive ENDA. 
  • In May, at NTCE Lobby Days training, HRC says it will back the inclusive ENDA.
  • In early September, before 800 transgender people at the Southern Comfort Conference, HRC President Joe Solmonese once again promises to only support a gender inclusive ENDA
  • In late September, Rep. Barney Frank pulls the inclusive ENDA bill and substitutes a non-inclusive ENDA bill
  • Joe Solmones says the HRC will would not oppose or endorse the non-inclusive bill
  • In late October HRC says they will support non-inclusive bill, but will not penalize any congressperson who votes against the non-inclusive bill.
  • In November HRC, says they will penalize any congressperson who votes against the non-inclusive bill
  • Six U.S. Representatives vote against the non-inclusive bill and lose their 100% rating on LGBT issues from the HRC

I am heading home after a weekend away. I did a lot of traveling over the long weekend. First to the Cape, then to Maine to be with my brother and sister-in-law for Easter, and then I stopped at a friends' place in Haverhill. All totaled about 600 miles and ten hours driving time/

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