So the other day, I get an "open letter" from the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club in San Francisco declaring their decision to boycott the upcoming dinner for the Human Rights Campaign in San Francisco. I decided to read it and see what it's about. It turns out that the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club is mad at the HRC because of their support of a non-transgender inclusive Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) at the federal level. Now, keep in mind that the HRC is fully supportive of an all-inclusive ENDA that would protect against discrimination based both on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. But there was no way a transgeneder-inclusive ENDA was going to pass the United States Congress - as hard as that is to believe in the 21st Century, while a federal ENDA that would only outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation would be able to pass. The HRC took a pragmatic approach and decided to support that version as a step toward progress while vowing to continue to work for all members of the LGBT community until full equality in all regards is reached. They also supported Rep. Tammy Baldwin's amendment to make ENDA fully inclusive.
So when I see a San Francisco based LGBT Democratic club urging members of our community to shun the HRC - perhaps the most effective LGBT rights organization in the last 30 years - I take offense. When I see them misrepresenting HRC's position, I am appalled. So I wrote them back a letter. Here it is, in full:
I don't know how you got my email address, but I have to tell you this: It is because of your letter that I will be going to the HRC dinner, and will encourage my network of friends and colleagues to do the same. I wasn't originally planning on going, and I didn't even know that it was happening. So I suppose I owe you a thank you for informing me about this.
The reason for my decision is your letter is smearing HRC. The HRC has been fighting for equality for all Americans regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, for as long as they have existed. They have supported inclusive legislation for all of this time. Their decision on ENDA - which, frankly, was my decision as well - was that they were willing to accept smaller steps of progress if they could not get the fully inclusive bill. Why it makes sense to you to leave everyone without protection because the votes aren't there for a subgroup's protection is beyond me. HRC isn't giving up on a trans-inclusive ENDA, but the votes are simply not there to pass one at this time.
The other thing that astonishes me is that you - in San Francisco - sit there with all of the protections under state law, and condemn our gay and lesbian and bisexual brothers and sisters in states without such state protections to longer periods of discrimination by your umbrage. Whether a Federal ENDA passes or not, and whether it is trans-inclusive or not, will not make an iota of difference in your life since in our state, fortunately, both sexual orientation and gender identity are protected against employment discrimination. And you sit in the seat of relative comfort, perport to stand for justice, and then argue that the current unjust status quo must be maintained if a bill cannot protect everyone. You make perfect the enemy of the good. You condemn partial progress because full progress is not yet made. And then you try to turn people away from perhaps the most effective LGBT rights organization in the country because they took to pragmatism.
It is a travesty of justice what is happening to our trans brothers and sisters. But that travesty is not corrected by prolonging the travesty of justice for those who it can be corrected.
Just one update: I might not be able to afford to go to the HRC dinner - it's $225 a plate, as I just found out. However, yesterday in San Francisco, I purchased an HRC membership at the $50 level, and will proudly wear the tee-shirt I got as a gift for it.