Thursday, April 15, 2010

Boycott The HRC Atlanta Dinner

TransGriot Note: From Monica Helms, TAVA founder and president

On May 1st, HRC will have its local gala dinner here in Georgia. I am urging people not to go, but for reasons that many would not expect me to give. Yes, I am a transgender activist and have been called a leader in the transgender community, but I am coming to you today as an LGBT resident of Georgia.

Georgia's unemployment rate is above the national average. Even people with jobs are struggling because while the cost of living goes up, their income doesn't. We are still in the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. It is bad out here for Americans, and especially Georgians.

Here are the admission costs for this year's HRC dinner:

* General Admission Tickets: $200
* Federal Club: $75
* Student w/ID: $100
* Mother or Father attending with Son/Daughter: $100
* Elected Official: $100
* Ordained Clergy: $100

This is down from previous years, but is still a lot of money. Two hundred dollars is a car payment for me. It will buy groceries for nearly a month for Darlene and I. It would greatly help Gentle Spirit Christian Church, and many other people.

This is the real reason we need to boycott the HRC dinner. They have taken hundreds-of-thousands of dollars out of the State of Georgia for decades and given nothing in return. When we were having our same-sex marriage struggle in 2004, they blew us off as being a lost cause. This does not seem like a good investment for our pink dollars, but you can always ask an accountant to verify this for you.

On top of that, HRC's track record on a national level is dismal at best. You can't even point to the Hate Crime bill as one of their accomplishments, because it was a grassroots movement that helped get that bill passed in the first place.

Sadly, the first groups who suffer in bad economic times are non-profits and local PACs. For Georgia, that would be Georgia Equality. They have both. What HRC makes at just one of their Atlanta dinners could greatly help Georgia Equality fight for an anti-bullying bill, hate crimes and to fight any anti gay adoption bill. Instead, that money goes to pay for the mortgage on HRC's big building in DC and the salaries of their employees. It takes TWO Atlanta dinners just to pay for the yearly salary of HRC's president. What are you really getting for your money?

Other wonderful local organizations who need the money more than HRC are the Lesbian Health Initiative, Youth Pride, MEGA Family, Juxtaposed Center and AID Atlanta.

I urge you to not give HRC the much needed money that could go to help LGBT people here in Georgia. And, if HRC really cared about the well-being of the LGBT people of Georgia, they would donate the profits of the Atlanta Dinner to the local groups. However, none of us will live long enough to ever see that happen.

Monica Helms
President, Transgender American Veterans Association.

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