My Prop 8 protest
While facing back and forth rains near the Capitol, we finally trekked our way to the White House where DC's Prop 8 protest was delivering it's final round of messages. I was happy to find my fellow South Asian friend, Travis, there on the bull-horn. He belongs to the group Khush DC, the District's group for LGBT South Asians. After waving recognition to him, I was happy to hear his words:
"I shouldn't have to choose between being a man, between being a South Asian man, between being a queer South Asian man. I am all of those things!"
I first met him when we were doing phonebanking for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). He's good on the phone.
Travis had also called on us to fight ALL types of hate, including "when women earn less than men, when one's immigration status is used as a litmus test for worthy treatment, and, yes, even today, when the color of one's skin still brings up age-old
I loved the other speakers too, including leader of Marriage Equality California, Mark Levine, a name I recognize, even if I forget faces.
My friend Roe, a student at American University, was there too. She was one of many at American University that were angry at HRC's decision to exclude transgender people from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that they tried to pass through Congress last year. It failed anyway. If it had passed, I do believe that HRC would come back, as they promised, to have transgender people included in this law. I have no reason, yet, to believe that they would have permanently left transgender people behind, though it does beg the question: "if not now, when?"
That was the painful conflict of last year, after we had gotten an LGBT-friendly, Democratic majority in Congress. The conflict started when Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), who was leading the House effort for ENDA, had said that his first count found not enough votes. Then excluding trans was the tactic. Most of the LGBT organizations, national and state, had sided with the "United ENDA" campaign, which advocated that either the single bill should include all of us, or it should be be voted down.
However two gay-rights groups did not join with United ENDA: Log Cabin Republicans and HRC. This brought LOTS of criticism against the HRC, which already had a history of being viewed as being unsupportive of the more marginlized members of the LGBT community: gay people of color and transgender people
Which all gets to the 2nd event...
Online forum on ENDA's trans-exclusion
My old boss at the National Center for Transgender Equality, where I interned last year, was a transgender man named Simon Aranoff. He has since relocated, but our Executive Director, Mara Kiesling, is still there.
Recently she spoke at the Equality North Carolina conference. She spoke of many issues, but you can catch this video of her position on ENDA and how HRC erred.
See video, scroll down.