VOLUME 4, ISSUE 3 |Jan 20 – 26, 2005

Letters to the editor

Amending Fences

January 14, 2005

To the Editor:

Your article, “Big Show of Fence Mending,” (Jan. 13-19) inaccurately represents a conversation I had with your reporter, Joe Dignan.

First of all, I simply did not say that the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is “wasting valuable resources in Washington.” Nor did I say that HRC should be doing “so much more.” If Dignan had been interested, I would have told him that HRC’s support for state organizing work has actually increased over the past couple of years.

I did talk to Dignan about the need for our movement to invest more resources in state work. I also spoke about the fact that The Equality Federation—a coalition of statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organizations—has been talking with national organizations (including HRC) about how they and state groups might work more effectively together to achieve common goals. One of the Federation’s goals is to ensure that national organizations recognize and rely upon the expertise of state leaders as our movement begins to focus more intently on work in the states.

The article did accurately reflect my view that our community’s tendency to tear down our leadership is detrimental to the work of our movement. This makes your mischaracterization of my statements even more appalling, since one objective of your article seems to have been to denigrate the efforts of LGBT organizations to come together for an unprecedented, unified statement of commitment to our common civil rights struggle.

As a new executive director, I would like to be clear that my goal is to promote more positive and effective relationships between local, state, and national organizations who are all working hard on behalf of LGBT Americans. And while I think that constructive criticism is important so we can all do our jobs better, I believe that vilifying any of our organizations serves no movement purpose. If that is a goal of your paper, I want no part of it.

Toni Broaddus

Executive Director Equality Federation San Francisco

Editor’s note: In the editing of Joe Dignan’s story, Toni Broaddus was inaccurately paraphrased to suggest that the Human Right Campaign was wasting money in Washington, when in fact she was making a point suggesting that the movement generally should be focusing more money on state and grassroots effort, without specific reference to HRC. Gay City News stands by all the quoted comments that appeared in Joe Dignan’s story.

Pushing Wall Street on Gender Rights

January 18, 2005

To the Editor:

You report that New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson has launched shareholder initiatives to urge three companies to add gender identity and expression to their corporate non-discrimination policies while at the same time commencing shareholder initiatives urging 15 other Fortune 500 companies to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation (“City’s Big Bucks for Justice,” by Paul Schindler, Jan 13 – 19, 2005).

We commend the comptroller for these shareholder initiatives, but given his stated commitment to full LGBT inclusion in the work of his office, we would expect him to include gender identity and expression in every shareholder resolution that urges addition of sexual orientation to a company’s non-discrimination policy. After all, transgendered people are as vulnerable to discrimination in the workplace as non-transgendered lesbian or gay people, if not more so.

The discrepancy between Bill Thompson’s aggressive pursuit of corporate sexual orientation non-discrimination policy and his rather timid and tentative first steps in transgender advocacy requires explanation, but the comptroller’s only response, when asked whether he was ready to press for transgender protections in corporate America, was “Right now, no.” If not now, when?

The New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGR) led the successful campaign for enactment of the New York City transgender rights law in 2002—a bill that Mr. Thompson endorsed when running for comptroller in 2001—and 73 other jurisdictions (including five states) now prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression. In addition to the 48 Fortune 500 companies that you mention, there are nearly 100 smaller companies that that prohibit such discrimination. So asking both large corporations and smaller companies to institute policies that protect their transgendered and gender-variant employees from discrimination is hardly a radical step.

It seems to us that the question is not whether corporate America is ready to hear about transgender discrimination; the question is whether Bill Thompson is ready to use his full authority as comptroller to compel corporations to address such issues.

Pauline Park

Co-Chair NYAGRA Manhattan

Don’t Dis’ Dolly

January 13, 2005

To the Editor:

I was thrilled to see your paper praise Dolly Parton’s recent live double-CD “Live And Well,” but the reviewer miscounted her awards, saying she has five Grammys and five Country Music Association Awards (“From Broadway to Grand Ole Oprey,” by Jason Victor Serinus, Jan. 13-19). Actually, she has won seven career Grammys (and has been nominated 42 times) and has taken home ten CMAs (and has been nominated 40 times).

T. Duane Gordon

Editor and Publisher dollymania.net: The online Dolly Parton newsmagazine Canton, Mississippi


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