Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco: LGBT Community protests against the Human Rights Campaign

The self proclaimed largest gay rights organization in the United States continues to draw fire from LGBT people around the nation.

  • Andrew Sullivan, one of the most respected and most read gay bloggers slammed them in his post: HRC Busted.
  • Log Cabin Republicans issued a statement denouncing the HRC's YouTube video of John McCain.
  • Organizers of Atlanta pride refused money from the HRC.
Forget about political maneuvers and electoral games; ignore the platitudes and moralisms of extremists. Leaving members of our community behind isn't acceptable, and that's what most people remain upset about.

What else can go wrong for them? Plenty! This is hot off the press:

As gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people prepare to celebrate gay pride in San Francisco this weekend, many of them also are organizing a boycott and protest of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

Activists plan to be on the streets during the festivities to inform people of the boycott and protest of the Human Rights Campaign's annual fundraising dinner in San Francisco next month, a major event that raises tens of thousands of dollars for the organization.

Similar actions took place at fundraising dinners in Philadelphia and New York City earlier this year.

The controversy stems from the Human Rights Campaign's decision last fall to support a bill in Congress that would bar employers from firing a person because of his or her sexual orientation. The bill, which passed the House but has stalled in the Senate, did not include the same protections for transgender people. More than 370 gay rights organizations condemned the bill for that reason.

On Tuesday, San Francisco Supervisors Tom Ammiano and Bevan Dufty introduced a resolution at City Hall calling for a bill that includes transgender people and recognizing the boycott.

"The Human Rights Campaign should not be human rights cowards," Ammiano said at a news conference at the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center. He said the organization seems uneasy with transgender issues.

Dufty said he will skip the fundraising dinner for the first time in 23 years and instead will make dinner at his home for people protesting outside the event.

The city's two LGBT Democratic clubs support the boycott, as does the San Francisco Labor Council. Assemblyman Mark Leno and state Sen. Carole Migden, both of San Francisco, also are not attending the event.Matt Foreman, who was executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force when the congressional vote took place, called the actions of the Human Rights Campaign "a monumental betrayal."

Foreman said it raises questions about the effectiveness of the organization, which raised $28 million last year.

"What is going on here is an emperor-has-no-clothes moment," said Foreman, who said he will be outside protesting but is "pained" to be doing so. "We still don't have one single federal law that protects gay people, let alone transgender people."

Theresa Sparks, who is president of the San Francisco Police Commission and is transgender, said she returned an award she received from the Human Rights Campaign.

Sparks, who attended the news conference with Dufty and Ammiano, noted the contributions of transgender people to the LGBT movement. The 1969 Stonewall riots in New York that sparked the modern LGBT rights movement were promulgated by transgender people, she said.

She dismissed the political argument that the nondiscrimination bill was more likely to pass Congress if it didn't mention transgender people.

"To me, this is less about strategy and more about integrity," Sparks said.


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