Spokesman denies chief refused to meet with them
Two weeks after demanding an apology from Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese during an interview with Dallas Voice, leading transgender activist Donna Rose resigned from HRC’s Business Council.
Rose and Jamison Green, the only two transgender members of the Business Council, announced their resignations Tuesday, Nov. 27, in response to HRC’s support for a version of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act that includes sexual orientation but not gender identity.
In a statement, Rose and Green said they requested a face-to-face interview with Solmonese on Nov. 8, the day after the trans-less version of ENDA passed the House. On Nov. 13, Rose slammed HRC and demanded the apology during the interview at Voice offices.
(To view the article, go to www.dallasvoice.com/artman/exec/view.cgi/100/7283.)
Then, four days later, Rose and about five other transgender people staged a walkout while Solmonese spoke at Dallas’ 2007 Black Tie Dinner, the annual LGBT fundraiser that lists HRC as its chief beneficiary.
“Almost three weeks have passed since that [interview] request, and we have heard nothing in response,” the statement from Rose and Green read. “This lack of response speaks volumes, so we feel compelled to take this stand today. 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 organization.”
In response to the statement, HRC spokesman Brad Luna denied Solmonese has refused to meet with Rose and Green.
“Joe will obviously meet with them and has spoken to Donna throughout the process,” Luna told Dallas Voice. “It’s not in any way that Joe does not have an open-door policy.”
The dispute between Rose and Jamison and HRC stems from the organization’s decision to back the trans-less version of ENDA put forward by House Democratic leaders who said the bill would not have sufficient votes to pass if it included gender identity.
Rose, the lone transgender member of HRC’s Board of Directors, stepped down from that position Oct. 3 in response to the organization’s failure to sign a petition backed by more than 300 other LGBT groups opposing the bill. However, she continued to work with the Business Council, which compiles HRC’s annual Corporate Equality Index and works with companies to institute policies on job discrimination and health benefits.
On Nov. 6, HRC signed a letter in support of the transless ENDA.
Rose said in doing so, the organization broke a promise made by its board in 2004 that it would not to support any federal legislation that didn’t include gender identity.
Luna, however, defended the decision.
“We believe that staying at the table and negotiating in support of the best possible bill was better than simply walking away,” Luna said. “There was no organization that did more for an inclusive bill than the Human Rights Campaign.”
ENDA remains stalled in the Senate, and President Bush has threatened to veto it should it pass.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 30, 2007