Trans activists resign from US gay rights group

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Human Rights Campaign, the most prominent LGBT rights organisation in America, has suffered more resignations from trans activists over its support for an employment protection law that excluded trans people.

The only transgender members of the HRC Business Council, Donna Rose and Jamison Green, announced their resignations yesterday in response to recent HRC policy decisions regarding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

“Considering recent broken promises, the lack of credibility that HRC has with the transgender community at large, and HRC’s apparent lack of commitment to healing the breach it has caused, we find it impossible to maintain an effective working relationship with the organisation,” they said in a resignation statement.

In October Ms Rose resigned as the only trans person on the board of HRC.

The organisation has been widely criticised over its response to the removal of protections for trans people from ENDA, which was passed by the US House of Representatives.

Gay, lesbian and bisexual people received protection under the Act.

However, it became apparent that the legislation would fail to get enough support if it extended employment rights to trans people.

“On November 8, the day after the ENDA vote in the House of Representatives, we requested an opportunity to meet personally with HRC President Joe Solmonese to share our concerns and to discuss HRC’s strategy for addressing recent legislative shortcomings before making a decision to stay or go,” yesterday’s resignation statement said.

“As the only transgender representatives on the Business Council our community expects us to have some influence, or at least to receive the courtesy of a consultation.

“Almost 3 weeks have passed since that request and we have heard nothing in response. This lack of response speaks volumes, so we feel compelled to take this stand today.”

ENDA would make it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or promote a person based on sexual orientation.

US House of Representatives it passed earlier this month by 235 to 184.

35 Republicans joined 200 Democrats and voted for the bill.

159 Republicans were joined in voting against by 25 Democrats, many of whom were angry that protections for trans people had been removed from the bill.

It was the first time since 1994 that legislation that protects LGB people at work had been brought to the House. Pioneering rights activists first tried to pass similar laws in 1974.

ENDA’s supporters in the Senate will need the votes of 60 of the 100 Senators rather than a simple majority to overcome expected Republican attempts to kill the legislation.

Currently 17 states have protections for LGB people; eight of those states extend that protection to trans people.

In 1996 similar legislation failed in the Senate by one vote.

87% of the top Fortune 500 companies in the US already provide protection from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The US military and religious organisations are excluded from the legislation, which also does not force employers to extend benefits to same-sex partners.

However, the White House has indicated that President Bush will veto ENDA if it passes the Senate.