Wednesday, November 14, 2007

HRC Pastoral Letter Debunked

TransGriot Note. HRC has been on a 'schmooze and confuse' charm offensive in the wake of the odious transgender-free ENDA vote last week trying to get back in the community's good graces. (good luck with that) This was a pastoral letter they sent out to GLBT ministers. A response to it came back from Reverend Paul Turner of Atlanta, GA who I had the pleasure of meeting at the 2004 SCC.

First, the letter from Harry Knox.

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Now that the vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has
taken place in the House, I want to write to all of you to reconfirm
our commitment in the Religion and Faith program toward educating
people across the country about transgender people, the particular
struggles they face, and why a fully inclusive ENDA is essential for
all of us. In the days ahead we will be talking with many of you as
we make our plans; we'll also want to know how we can help you with
your work on transgender issues.

I am writing today, however, to speak to the hurt, anger, and feelings
of betrayal many of you have felt as a result of the recent struggle
in our community around this bill. The last four weeks or so have
been among the most painful of my career as I have heard transgender
sisters and brothers I love express their hurt over being left out yet
again. I have agonized with many of you, my colleagues, over
strategic decisions that seemed to put us over against each other,
even as we leaned heavily on personal regard for each other and
commitment to the long term success of our whole LGBT community to get
us through.

At this point you know that HRC made a political calculation over what
we thought was the best position we should take moving forward. The
bill passed by the House yesterday is not the bill any of us wanted.
After a deep and painful process we made the decision to stay at the
table with Congress and support the non-inclusive ENDA legislation, HR
3685 in the House.

Our president, Joe Solmonese, has consistently stated our ultimate and
unequivocal commitment to a fully inclusive ENDA. Supporting HR 3685
was, in his mind, the best way toward getting a truly inclusive bill
passed as quickly as possible. I believe his sincerity and trust his
political instincts. In addition, I personally believe that we never
win by standing still. To not move forward at this point would have
set back our work in significant ways - our choice was between moving
forward and falling backward.

I believe that if members of Congress have a positive experience
voting for employment protection for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals and
getting re-elected in the process, they will be more likely to support
a fully inclusive bill in a year or two. However, if the bill had
died in committee or had been voted down on the floor, the negative
experiences of members of Congress would ensure that we would have
little chance of getting any bill to the table in the foreseeable future.

I also know that many of you disagree. As your colleague and friend,
I honor your feelings and respect your wisdom. That we have disagreed
over this strategic decision is painful for me and I hold in my heart
the pain it has caused you.

My hope and prayer is that you will see in the actions of the HRC
Religion and Faith Program the commitment to building support for a
truly inclusive ENDA that I have felt and seen in my colleagues here
at HRC over the last few weeks. There are about 60 districts
represented by members of Congress who were ready yesterday to support
protections for LGB folks, but not yet ready to do so for transgender
people. Sharon, Kyla, and I plan to make our commitment to justice
for transgender people manifest in our hard work to educate the people
of those districts and ultimately, the men and women who represent
them in Congress.

I don't ask that you put your hurt and pain behind you; those
experiences have a great deal to teach us about how we can move
forward. What I do hope is that our pain will not prevent us from
taking the necessary next steps together. All of us are precious in
God's eyes and all of us are necessary for the hard work ahead.

Please pray for me and all your colleagues at the Human Rights Campaign.

God bless you all,
Harry Knox, Director
Religion and Faith Program
Human Rights Campaign Foundation
1640 Rhode Island Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20036
202.716.1612 (cell)
harry.knox@... (


Reverend Turner's response

Dear Harry,

Nice try with this letter, but it does not wash.

The transgender are real flesh and blood people and are not HRC's bargaining chip.

<<"At this point you know that HRC made a political calculation over
what we thought was the best position we should take moving forward.">>

There is no going forward if everyone is not with us.

This is not Animal Farm where "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal then others"!

HRC has made a horrible and tragic miscalculation...a poll of 500 people does not speak for the entire LGBTQ community.

HRC sold it's sisters and brothers down the river for a bill they knew was not going to pass or have a chance in hell of becoming law.

When a house is on fire you don't stand outside and decide whom you are going to rescue, the attempt is made for all.

If the hypocrites in congress didn't want transgender people in the bill, then they should have been forced to make an amendment to take it out from the floor...not have HRC bargaining and agreeing that a part of our community was expendable and could simply wait for another day.

By removing Transgender people from the bill y'all sent a clear message to everyone concerned that the transgender community is somehow not on equal footing with the rest of the community.

This was wrong and you my friend know it. Pastorally speaking you and the rest of HRC chose to be the Esther who didn't bother to go before the King. Shame on you. I wonder how many Transgender people will die because even HRC thinks they are not worthy of protection? This was a time for leadership, guts and courage.

Y'all said it couldn't get through with Trans as apart of it, that it would have lost...well my friend you may have won the battle but HRC may have cost themselves far more then they think.

I cannot express how sad and disappointed I am in a pastor you should know that God's people are not expendable at any price!

So your attempt to "explain" to "sooth", to "justify" this despicable act on the part of HRC falls far short.

I am no longer a supporter of HRC, nor will I honor their name or pass on their e-mail with their weekly calls for money. They will not again receive one dime of my money or the church's and I will certainly encourage folks to find other organizations to give to other then HRC. I do believe there are organizations out there that still understand the meaning of community and that without all the hard work of the Trans community we would be nothing.

I know this doesn't mean a hell of lot to you, as I am not one of the high profile pastor's that you run with these days, nor is our church all that important to you or HRC, but you have lost my support and more importantly my respect.

I am of a mind to call for a boycott of the HRC dinner in Atlanta as well as any other HRC events in this city that seek our hard earned money. I might be persuaded to change my mind providing HRC admits their mistake and makes amends with the transgender community...but hey you and I both know that is not going to happen.

It is truly a sad day.

Reverend Paul M. Turner
Sr. Pastor


Diana_CT said...

I cannot say that I am amazed by the garbage that the HRC says any more, I am way beyond that now.
I love the reverends response, especially “The transgender are real flesh and blood people and are not HRC's bargaining chip.” and the part about letting Congress take out the gender inclusion and go on record that they are against it.
I posted excerpts of his reply on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Yeah for the Rev. for seeing past the snake oil! I really can't understand their brazeness in sending out a begging letter to the transgender community so quickly after after their spectacular backstabbing.
They seem to think that the community members are utter idiots. One wishes that the 300 LGBT organizations who were true to their principles could form a coalition based on passing a proper law to fully protect LGBT rights, so that we can bypass the hippocrites. Sigh. Pipedream, of course.

Maddie H said...

Reverend Turner's letter hits every major point, I think. If only enough people sent that same message to HRC. People (Donna Rose, for example) say that we still have to work with HRC because they're the most influential, hold all the keys, guard all the doors, etc, but I really don't know how accurate that is.

It seems like a really good time to build coalitions and alliances, as you've been saying. If we had more groups lobbying for trans rights because trans people cut across every population in the US, it certainly seems that HRC would be less important. I know I'm not saying anything new, I just think I'm getting it.

I don't know, I'm still politically inexperienced.

Reverend Bitch Sir! said...

I am humbled by you choosing to publish my response to the HRC.

It is long past the time where the children of God are referred to as a "political calculation"

God Bless,
Pastor Paul