This Saturday in Washington, D.C. the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a national lobby for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (L:GBT) community, holds its annual board meeting and faces a potentially decisive crossroads.
Among the topics up for discussion will be whether or not HRC will only support legislation that includes protections and benefits for all groups listed in its mission statement. Several transgender leaders will participate in the board meeting to press HRC leaders to abandon support for any legislation that does not have trans-inclusive language.
Other leading national LGBT advocacy organizations—including Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Pride at Work, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF)—have made this approach part of their official policy, refusing to sign on to legislation they believe excludes parts of the LGBT community. HRC is the last major national group that has yet to make this a fixed part of its platform.
The issue at stake immediately is HRC’s support of the national Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act, also known as the Federal Hate Crimes Bill.
Both measures have attracted widespread criticism from members of the LGBT community, specifically for the lack of language that includes transgender people in their protections.
ENDA’s current version bans employment discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation. It exempts small businesses, the military and religious organizations, and does not require that the same benefits be extended to employees’ same-sex partners as are offered spouses.
The Federal Hate Crimes bill would lend federal aid to local law enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting violent crimes motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation, actual or perceived gender or disability, as well as allow federal prosecution of such crimes.