A war has begun within the LGBT community dividing advocacy groups from community and funders from recipients.
One of the largest backers of the LGBT agenda, the Gill Foundation, cut off the ACLU because of their unfaltering backing of laws regarding transgender people’s access to public accommodations. The timing of this couldn’t be worse as the case involving Gavin Grimm, the 17-year-old Glouster high school student, will be ruled on by the supreme court in 2017.
The Gill Foundation writes over 6 million dollars grants annually has put other LGBT groups on notice too. If they don’t adhere to their policy of accepting transgender legislation without public accommodations in instances they deem necessary, they too will be cut off.
This came to a head when on Aug. 1, two dozen of the country’s top LGBT activists held an invitation-only phone call to hash out a disagreement that had pitted them into two camps. Dominic Holden at Buzz Feed recent series of articles have shed invaluable light on this and as importantly, the money trail.
After winning marriage equality in 2015, many of them envisioned passing LGBT nondiscrimination laws nationwide — but they hit roadblocks. Conservatives have argued those policies would let transgender people prey on girls in bathrooms and force Christians to sell wedding cakes to gay couples. The bills foundered in state legislatures and Congress. By August, the leaders were fractured over how to break the logjam.
On the 90-minute call, one faction argued they could make gains with Republicans by accepting a compromise. In particular, several supported a bill in Pennsylvania that would ban LGBT discrimination in workplaces and housing — but not in public places, like restaurants and stores. Many on the call believe this could emerge as a model for other swing states where they’ve hit barricades — namely in Ohio, Florida, and Arizona.
By dropping public accommodations from the bills, they would mostly avoid the bathroom issue and religious objections. Transgender people, like LGB people, would be covered in housing and employment. But such a deal would allow, for example, business owners to reject gay customers and require transgender women to use male facilities.
That sort of concession breaks from years of consensus among LGBT leaders, who have tacitly agreed that civil rights bills in state legislatures or Congress should be all-inclusive. Anything less, the orthodoxy has gone, could betray transgender people who bear the brunt of discrimination in public.
This is, in a sense, a fight for the future of the LGBT movement and even a battle over whether organizations can remain fully funded
The Gill Foundation, The National Center For Transgender Equality, Log Cabin Republicans, Equality Pennsylvania, and several others sent a six-page memorandum arguing that incremental LGBT legislation in swing states specifically Pennsylvania would protect the most LGBT people quickest. The Gill Fund wants transgender public accommodations left out in situations that they deem necessary, saying going back for it at a later date as a single objective.
In the June letter, Gill cited the Massachusetts enactment of transgender public accommodations a “capstone” achievement. That was before the right wings referendum to bring that legislation to a popular vote received enough signatures.
Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney, ACLU LGBT project wrote in an article titled “Now Is the Time to Fight for Trans People”. Our response is clear and unequivocal: Protecting transgender people from discrimination threatens the privacy and safety of no one. And it is not really about restrooms or locker rooms or nudity but about fear and disgust of trans people. It is about whether transgender people can engage in public life and exist in public space.”
Now all of this transpired months before the Supreme Court decided to take Gavin Grimm case and by extension all transgender people’s right to access public accommodations.
So mother earth permitting and the Supreme Court ruling in our favor, the battle between the LGBT groups might become a moot topic, except for one thing. One very powerful entrenched LGBT action fund is strong arming others to submit to their will and that must stop.
So where does the only viable transgender lobby group stand on public accommodations? We stood on polar opposite ends of the spectrum in 2011 when the NCTE fought for trans crow in Maryland and again more recently in Massachusetts.
Mara Keisling and the NCTE were signers of the Gill Fund memorandum but she claims quotes attributed to her in the Buzz Feed article were taken out of context and unfairly represent her views.
“Incrementalism is how policy gets done while other people are whining about incrementalism,” she told BuzzFeed News. “We have made it an article faith over the past few years that if a bill lacks public accommodations, it’s useless. That’s not true.”
She said that was exactly the path employed by lawmakers in California, Nevada, and Hawaii — states where legislatures passed bills that lacked public accommodations or gender identity, then patched the holes years later. Those patches were passed between 2005 and 2011, before marriage and before conservatives pressed bathrooms and religious freedom as their most potent arguments.
For the record, I was invited to a nationwide conference call a few years ago by Mara Keisling in which the Massachusetts bill sans public accommodations was to be discussed. Keisling wasted no time calling me ‘an unsubstantiated rumor monger and rabble raiser’ leaving me no opportunity to respond. It was devastating and humiliating, But also for the record I have met Mara a number of times since in person, come to own that moniker proudly and have developed an amazing frienemy relationship with Mara.
Keisling Responsed to BuzzFeed Article first apologizing for calling some transgender people ‘whinners”.
Before explaining NCTE’s policy positions and why they were incorrectly represented in the Buzzfeed article, I want to first apologize for something I said to BuzzFeed. When I first read the article, even I thought that my statement about incrementalism sounded dismissive. What I meant to say was: as frustrating as it is for all of us who need our rights so desperately—and need all of them now—every policy we win has some hole we will need to fill later. I do not believe that people who disagree with me are “whiners,” and I am deeply sorry for saying that.
Now, here are the facts.
The National Center for Transgender Equality has always fought with conviction and will continue to fight for full nondiscrimination protections for trans people—and that includes public accommodations. We recognize that protections in all public accommodations are important for trans people, and that’s why we have not and never will agree to remove public accommodations from future legislation as a general strategy.
NCTE has in no way given up on the “bathroom fight.” In fact, the opposite is true—it’s a large part of our current work. We have been—and will continue to be—engaged in multiple state battles over the last three years, including helping to defeat dozens of anti-trans bathroom bills this year alone, and dedicating enormous amounts of time, energy, and resources to the fight against HB2 in North Carolina. We are fully engaged in this fight and will stay that way until the final victory has been won.
Also, NCTE never has and never will let another organization, including any funder, dictate our policy positions. We work for trans people, not funders and not large LGBT organizations. I can understand why the false impression that we make decisions based on the demands of funders is of deep concern to members of our community, but it is false.
So how committed is Mara Keisling in action and deed? Much to her credit was arrested in North Carolina while protesting HB2.
— planetransgender (@planetrans) October 29, 2016
I would tend to believe Mara Keisling has our best interests in mind although I side with HRC, the ACLU and Lambda Legal in the belief that transgender Jim Crow-esque laws aren’t just bad they are toxic.
It’s not just about bathrooms!
In US law, public accommodations are generally defined as facilities, both public and private, used by the public. Examples include retail stores, rental establishments and service establishments as well as educational institutions, recreational facilities, and service centers.
Our newest Journalist at Planet Trans is calling bullshit…
The enemies of social progress aren’t going away, and giving into the self-centered “Fuck ’em, I got mine” attitude is an egregious dereliction of responsibility for LGB advocates who are now willing to leave the trans community for dead by waiting for a political climate where the issue of public accommodations are “more palatable”. The fact is, that time may never come.
— defund hₙ(X, A) (@hexadecim8) October 28, 2016