By: PAUL SCHINDLER | As more than 300 LGBT rights groups came together last fall to form ENDA United, a coalition opposed to advancing any federal nondiscrimination bill that did not protect gender identity and expression, two groups - the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) - were at the forefront.
Responding to an earlier online posting of Gay City News' story on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) dinner, Matt Foreman, the Task Force's executive director, said, "Some of us have been in this fight longer than HRC's existence, so we know this is a long term struggle, but the point is now to unite everyone behind support for an inclusive ENDA. Anything else is a distraction and a disservice."
Asked for her views on Solmonese's comments, Mara Keisling, NCTE's executive director, said, "That is just more HRC spin. They are using this 'leave the field' metaphor, when in fact more LGBT activists than ever joined the field during this struggle. The metaphor they were using before was that HRC needed to stay at the table. They decided to stay at the table and eat everyone else's supper. To say that anyone else has walked away from the struggle is just wrong."
Keisling noted that ENDA United included "nearly every organization in the nation that had passed LGBT legislation," and questioned HRC's wisdom in second-guessing them.
She also criticized a poll the group conducted last fall, as the ENDA vote approached, asking LGBT Americans how they felt about moving forward with a bill that did not protect the transgender community.
"We always fight against the notion of LGBT rights ever being put to a vote as the right wing tries again and again to do," she said. "But that's what HRC did with that poll."
HRC was "strategically dumb and morally reprehensible," Keisling charged.