Over 100 people protest exclusion of gender identity protection in ENDA outside HRC dinner
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
More than 100 protesters gathered Saturday in San Francisco to object to the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) stance on gender identity.
The protesters picketed the HRC's annual fundraising dinner to protest the organization's efforts to remove gender identity protections from legislation that would add sexual orientation to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
The group was clad in a variety of outfits, ranging from street clothing to drag to camp gear; some wore make-up or fake moustaches. Cross-dressers, gays, lesbians, transgender and gender inspecific individuals were in attendance. The group claimed a unified purpose: to express feeling betrayed by the HRC's action, a move the protesters argued is opposed by over 350 local, statewide and national LGBT advocacy organizations.
The event quickly developed into more than ordinary civil disobedience. The "Left OUT Party: A Genderfal Gay-la" elicited a festive mode among individuals who oscillated between roles of protester and entertainer. At times, it was difficult to determine one from the other.
"Some may say that incrementalism is a smart and sound political strategy, but we don’t think that throwing the transgender community under the bus in the name of incrementalism [is] really what the LGBT community is all about," explained Left OUT organizer Hunter Hargrave.
Some HRC dinner invitees smiled in acknowledgment of the protest, which handed out fliers supporting a united position on the ENDA and encouraging invitees of the $300 event to partake in the picketing.
The counter-party was organized by a coalition of queer progressive organizations, including Pride at Work, And Castro for All, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, the Trans March, the SF Labor Council, the Queer Youth Organizing Project and the Lou Sullivan Society/FTM International. Protesters were treated to speeches by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who was honored by the Left OUT party as a local hero for his work in ending the ban on same-sex marriage in the California Courts, as well as City Supervisor Tom Ammiano.
Mila Ponder, host of transition issues podcast Trans-Ponder.com, said she found out about the event at San Francisco's annual Gay Pride weekend in June, where supporters were handing out flyers. Other attendees had learned about the event through word-of-mouth or networking sites like Facebook.
In addition to Herrera, other honors were presented. "2008 Human Rights Heroes" included State Assemblyman Mark Leno, Police Commission President Theresa Sparks, National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Miller, San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Duffy and San Francisco Labor Council Executive Director Tim Paulson.
- Some material from press package provided at event.