HRC says sorry:

Chad Grif­fin apol­o­gizes for be­trayal to trans com­mu­nity

GA Voice - - Front Page - By Dyana Bagby dbagby@the­

Chad Grif­fin took the stage at the South­ern Com­fort Con­fer­ence in At­lanta, ac­knowl­edged as pres­i­dent of the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign that he was the “ele­phant in this room” and then apol­o­gized on be­half of HRC for the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s be­trayal to trans peo­ple seven years ago.

“So I am here to­day, at South­ern Com­fort, to de­liver a mes­sage. I de­liver it on be­half of HRC, and I say it here in the hopes that it will even­tu­ally be heard by ev­ery­one who is will­ing to hear it,” he said Aug. 5. “HRC has done wrong by the trans­gen­der com­mu­nity in the past, and I am here to for­mally apol­o­gize.”

“Amen, it’s about time,” one per­son could be heard say­ing over ap­plause.

Grif­fin spoke to about a crowd of ap­prox­i­mately 300 dur­ing a lunchtime key­note ad­dress at the Crowne Plaza Ho­tel.

“I am sorry for the times when we stood apart when we should have been stand­ing to­gether. Even more than that, I am sorry for the times you have been un­der­rep­re­sented or un­rep­re­sented by this or­ga­ni­za­tion,” Grif­fin added. “What hap­pens to trans peo­ple is ab­so­lutely cen­tral to the LGBT strug­gle. And as the na­tion’s largest LGBT civil rights or­ga­ni­za­tion, HRC has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to do that strug­gle jus­tice, or else we are fail­ing at our fun­da­men­tal mis­sion.”

Grif­fin ac­knowl­edged that it was his re­spon­si­bil­ity to help close the large di­vide be­tween HRC and the trans com­mu­nity. Grif­fin didn’t men­tion specifics as to why the di­vide ex­ists, but most no­tably in 2007 for­mer HRC Pres­i­dent Joe Sol­monese gave a key­note ad­dress at South­ern Com­fort and promised HRC would only support a ver­sion of the fed­eral Em­ploy­ment Non-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act which in­cludes gen­der iden­tity.

How­ever, shortly after that speech, for­mer U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, the only openly gay law­maker in Congress at the time, said he had to re­move the trans­gen­der as­pect of the bill be­cause it would not pass in Congress if the “T” was in­cluded. Many in the trans com­mu­nity said they were be­trayed by HRC for sup­port­ing Frank and the non-in­clu­sive ENDA.

Marisa Sandlin of Florida, who has been at­tend­ing South­ern Com­fort for 13 years and was in the au­di­ence in 2007 when Sol­monese promised to support only an in­clu­sive ENDA, said she was “cau­tiously op­ti­mistic” after hear­ing Grif­fin’s speech.

“I’ll give him the ben­e­fit of the doubt. It’s a start. I think Chad’s smart enough to know there is a di­vide. It started in 2007 when [Joe] Sol­monese and [for­mer U.S. Rep.] Barney Frank sold us up the river,” she said. “There were a lot of hurt feel­ings.

“I think now he has to de­liver. It’s just that sim­ple,” she added. “Ev­ery­one wants to be­lieve. They [HRC] do a lot of good work. Right now ev­ery­one’s pumped up, but he has to de­liver.”


The SCC board of direc­tors an­nounced dur­ing this year’s con­fer­ence that it would be mov­ing next year to Fort Laud­erdale, Florida.

“Yes, we are mov­ing the con­fer­ence to Fort Laud­erdale next year. We were ap­proached by the Broward County Con­ven­tion and Vis­i­tors Bureau last year,” Joann Pur­cell, this year’s con­fer­ence chair, told the GA Voice.

“It was a lengthy process and a dif­fi­cult decision. But, in the best in­ter­ests of the con­fer­ence and the com­mu­nity we serve, it was de­cided to move,” Pur­cell added.

Next year’s dates are Sept. 30 - Oct. 4, 2015, at the Bon­aven­ture Re­sort and Spa Con­fer­ence Cen­ter in Westin, Florida, she said. The con­fer­ence is cur­rently con­tracted to be in Florida through 2017.

South­ern Com­fort cel­e­brated its 24th an­niver­sary in At­lanta this year.

Trans com­mu­nity mem­bers applauded HRC Pres­i­dent’s Chad Grif­fin apol­ogy at this year’s con­fer­ence in At­lanta. (File photo)

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