Why I Don’t Support The Human Rights Campaign
I’ve been harping on this organization for years, but it hasn’t exactly made me popular among my gay friends. Here’s why this incident (in which a HRC staffer tries to silence a trans activist) doesn’t surprise me in the least:
1. The HRC is first and foremost a political action committee, which means that they want and have always prioritized broad mainstream support, both financially and politically.
2. They have historically excluded, minimized, or simply ignored trans people (as well as other marginalized queer folks) in their agenda and have shown many times over that they have no qualms about abandoning equality for all in favor of equality for some.
3. Its leadership consists almost exclusively of privileged and white gay men. Its corporate partners are led almost exclusively by privileged and white (though not necessarily gay) men. Despite historic criticism of the organization’s lack of diversity, nothing has changed in the last decade. Because the HRC is not interested in anything changing.
4. I know from personal experience that they do not train their staff or volunteers on sensitivity toward trans issues even after all the controversy post-ENDA.
5. The HRC will negotiate with the Devil and sell out just about anyone if it fits their schemes. Would you trust a group like that with your social security benefits? You shouldn’t.
The organization has demonstrated time and time again that it feels no accountability toward major segments of their supposed constituency (trans or young or poor or non-white), so I find it fully plausible that this incident occurred and that the HRC is trying to cover its ass rather than admit that the largest lobbying organization for LGBT rights in the country is really more concerned about staying in power than actually challenging the power structures that currently exist.
In conclusion, you will not find an equal sign on my Facebook or anywhere else. I think it’s hypocritical and ignorant to allow the HRC to represent the entire American queer agenda, so long as the organization continues to devote the great majority of its manpower, influence, and money toward marriage equality alone - a goal which (long overdue may it be) frankly changes very little for the most marginalized and most ignored parts of the queer “community”.
I support the Human Rights Campaign. I’m grateful for what they’ve done for the queer community, and I think that without them, we wouldn’t have made much of the progress that we’ve made today. I believe that although they’re a flawed organization, they are the most influential organization that the queer community has, and as such, they deserve our support.
First of all, it would be worth noting that your distaste for the HRC could be related to the fact that you’re against gay marriage. On your tumblr, you’ve previously stated that you don’t think gay couples should be able to get married. You qualified this statement by saying that you don’t believe in any marriages being recognized by the government because that causes marriage to be about money, not love.
As a straight woman, you have no idea what it’s like to be denied the right to marry. You have no regard for gay people who don’t share your opinion about marriage, and who would like the opportunity to be included in that institution. You have no concept of the fact that even if society would agree to abolish all governmentally-recognized marriages, gay couples would suffer in the meantime from being denied the right to marry.
You stated that you’re upset because “the organization continues to devote the great majority of its manpower, influence, and money toward marriage equality alone.” I don’t believe this is true. I believe that you’re upset because you don’t support marriage equality, and as such, you don’t actually recognize it as a “long overdue” goal. Don’t misrepresent your real beliefs.
Secondly, I agree with many of your criticisms of the HRC. The incident where an HRC staffer tried to get a trans activist to stop displaying a transgender pride flag was obviously inappropriate. Although I believe their statement that the staffer’s actions weren’t representative of the HRC’s beliefs, the staffer should have been fired. The HRC could have done more to remedy the situation.
In addition, I agree that the HRC needs to do more for trans rights, they need more diverse leadership, they need to train their staff on sensitivity towards trans issues, and they have been guilty of some underhanded actions.
Like any organization, the HRC has flaws. Rather than fully withdrawing my support due to their flaws, I prefer to acknowledge that the organization needs to change with the times.
Lastly, the fight doesn’t stop at marriage equality. For the modern LGBT rights movement, marriage equality is the first step. Whether or not it’s the ideal first step is irrelevant. It is the first step in a chain of progress.
Of course, there are other issues faced by the queer community: employment/housing discrimination, public accommodations for trans people, full access to education, full access to health care services, recognition of trans people’s gender, hate crimes, and more.
Let’s say that the HRC chose not to focus on marriage equality. Instead, let’s say they made a list of every single issue that members of the queer community face, and chose to divide their time/money/resources equally among all of these issues. If they’d had infinite time/money/resources, this would have been a fantastic idea.
They didn’t. Rather than attempting to fight every issue at once, they narrowed their focus to a specific goal. Once full marriage equality has been won, the HRC will be able to make other issues a greater priority. Progress takes time.