Main | Thursday, May 08, 2008

HRC Head Apologizes For "Misspeaking" On ENDA Pledge To Transgenders

Last week in Atlanta, Human Rights Campaign executive director Joe Solmonese privately apologized to a group of transgender activists for "misspeaking" at a conference last year when he promised that his organization would not support a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that did not include gender identity protections.
Solmonese met for more than two hours with Atlanta transgender rights activists Tracee McDaniel, founder of the Juxtaposed Center for Transformation; JCT board member and attorney Jamie Roberts; Dee Dee Chamblee, executive director of Lagender; Sir Jesse McNulty, educator and member of the Feminist Outlawz; and Shelley Emerson, a former HRC Federal Club member.

Roberts said Solmonese apologized for “misspeaking” at last year’s Southern Comfort Conference, where he promised HRC would only support an ENDA that included gender identity. Southern Comfort, the largest transgender conference in the nation, is held annually in Atlanta.

“He did apologize for misspeaking at Southern Comfort. But I think there was a lot of anger, disappointment and a lot of emotions for a lot of people,” Roberts said of HRC’s support of the sexual-orientation only ENDA. “It was very dehumanizing.”

After years of covering just “sexual orientation,” ENDA was introduced in the U.S. House last year with “gender identity” as well. But the category was dropped when the bill’s main backer, openly gay U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), said there were not enough votes to pass the broader measure. The U.S. House approved ENDA with just sexual orientation in November 2007; the Senate hasn’t voted.

HRC supports including gender identity in ENDA, but urged Congress members to vote in favor of Frank’s sexual orientation-only bill as an incremental strategy.

“I appreciated the opportunity to sit down with a few leaders of the Atlanta transgender community last week to discuss ways that we can move toward a fully inclusive ENDA together," Solmonese said in a statement. "I believe this open line of communication allowed all of us to gain a greater understanding of each other’s perspectives and underscored the fact that we share the common goal of equality for all members of our community.”
It appears that local gay press was not allowed to attend the Atlanta meeting.

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