Joe Solmonese speaks to HRC Members
In an email message to Human Rights Campaign members today (Oct. 16, 09), President Joe Solmonese speaks about the uproar over his words about President Obama's support for LGBT equality. I wanted to pass this along:
"It's been a long and eventful week. To those of you who joined us at the 13th Annual HRC National Dinner last Saturday, thank you for showing your support to HRC and for helping us pay tribute to Judy and Dennis Shepard, whose decade of work to pass hate crimes legislation is about to result in the first federal law protecting our entire community. To those of you who participated in the march, thank you for standing up for equality. We need more voices for good, and your numbers and energy show me that we have what it takes to win. Many of you will continue to advocate for equal rights. At NoExcuses.HRC.org, you will find resources to help you in your work as a citizen lobbyist, adding your own representative to the "aye" column for the bills that matter most to us.
Between President Obama's speech at the HRC National Dinner on Saturday night and the inspiring crowd of pro-equality marchers who gathered at the Capitol on Sunday, it was quite a weekend. In my mind, it all reflected the undeniable fact that we in the LGBT community and our allies have a new-found energy and focus on what needs to be done to achieve the equality we've been promised and that we deserve. Of course, we are not a community that sees everything through the same lens (and thank goodness for that!), so there have been nearly as many different views of what really went down last weekend as there were people marching past the White House. With this in mind, I want to address some of the issues people have been discussing and talk about how I see us all moving forward.
Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was the reaction some people had to my comment that on the last day of President Obama's term, we will be able to look back on many accomplishments in LGBT rights. I still find it hard to believe that anyone thought I was saying that we should be content to wait patiently for our equality. What I said—and what I believe in my heart—is just the opposite.
We all worked hard to elect a President who supports our rights and now that we're in a position to make change happen, the last thing we should do is wait. Don't Ask, Don't Tell and DOMA are still on the books and an inclusive ENDA has yet to become law. Real families are left without protections and people living with HIV and AIDS aren't getting the care they need. Students are being bullied in school because they're different and bi-national couples are treated like they've never met. While we've started to turn the tide, it's clear that our community has a lot of reasons to be angry and impatient, and I'm thankful to the tens of thousands who joined us in Washington this weekend to demand a change.
So while I steadfastly believe that we will have accomplished an awful lot by the time President Obama leaves office, I know that wishing won't make it so.
The fact is, we've got an agenda. It includes repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, passing an inclusive ENDA, repealing DOMA, and getting real protections for families and people with HIV/AIDS. How do we make all this happen? We have to pass laws. When it comes to changing the lives of LGBT Americans, that's the name of the game. Whatever the president does or doesn't say, whatever I say and however anyone decides to read it, there is only one way to pass a law: secure a majority of votes in the House and a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate. This is a lot easier said than done, but one thing is certain: when an LGBT bill gets to the Oval Office, this president will sign it.
We're on the cusp of an inclusive hate crimes bill becoming law and that monumental victory provides some useful lessons moving forward. We didn't get to this point by sitting around waiting. Since its introduction 12 years ago, we have faced a promised veto from the Bush White House and at times unfriendly congressional majorities. But our members and supporters fought hard, filling Capitol Hill switchboards and inboxes. As part of strong coalitions, we put pressure on Members of Congress working with our allies and standing up to our opponents. When the right-wing called the bill the "Pedophile Protection Act" we fought back. When our opponents claimed the bill was a threat to religious liberty we brought hundreds of clergy to Washington to unmask the lie. That's how we won and we're going to have to keep doing it with more energy than we thought possible.
I measure our success by the impact we're having on the people who vote for our bills. So far this year we have engaged thousands of people to go to in-district lobbying visits on Hate Crimes, ENDA, Don't Ask Don't Tell, DOMA, and our family benefits and protections agenda. We've reinforced that with our own lobbying work here in Washington. Now, the measure of this weekend's march will be how many people put the pressure on their Members of Congress when they go back home.
Will Obama be with us? Absolutely. Has he made his position clear? He has. Can he generate all of the votes that we need? No. Only we as a community can. We all know by watching the health care debate that the President can't make those votes happen without pressure from the grassroots. And that's us -- all of us who care about equality and take the time to do so something about it.
In the uproar over what President Obama didn't say, something he did say got lost. He said that we will pass this agenda "day by day, law by law." We can only move each law day by day if we move Congress, vote by vote. We as a community can do that. We have been doing that and no one who believes in our equality has a moment to wait.
That is why our confidence in what we will accomplish under this President is not misplaced. At the end of the day, it is confidence in ourselves. I have confidence in the LGBT community and the people who support us. We will claim the equality that is our birthright, day by day, vote by vote, law by law."
President, Human Rights Campaign
Wolf In Sheep's Clothing
Solmonese is the same person who threw transgender people under the bus two years ago. He represents rich, white gay men and not the masses of GLBT people he purports to represent.
I think you're onto something there, Genee. I noticed that there was a fair bit of transphobia at the HRC. I guess some rights are more human than others (heavy sarky there, mates). I don't really listen to the HRC because I doubt they are really serious about doing much for the LGBTQ people unless those LGBTQ people happen to be white and male.
Say JOE! Nebraska's DHHS backed discrimination against the GLBT community!
HRC is interested in talking about what they think is important and where they feel they have made some sort of headway.
After going to their website yesterday and seeing the post about how WELL they're doing with DHHS and HUD, I sat here so stunned and shocked..
I guess the fact that Nebraska's DHHS (and HUD to an extent) have been ignoring the Catholic Church's attempt to make gay discrimination acceptable (some say "required") and that the DHHS has sat back and allowed the Catholic Church to push through homophobic licensing regulations for mental health therapists/psychologists/psychiatrists, is a GOOD thing to the HRC?
Admittedly, recently, the DHHS seems to have taken a step back away from the homophobes but it's hard to tell since they've been busy having "private meetings" with the CC (legality here?? I doubt it) and no one is really sure WHAT they're doing...we're only sure about the political pressure which the Catholic Church is putting on everyone and their dog in regards to the issue (in NE the CC has a lot of political clout).
Is HRC so busy with their own little agenda that they forget not everyone LIVES in DC, NYC, SF and LA.
Well for those of us GLBT people living in states where it's legal to fire us (that would be over 30 states for sexual orientation and 38 states where you can fire folks for a gender identity issue), terminate our rental agreements, refuse us even the most BASIC of civils rights....
Marriage?? WE just wanna be able to keep our job after the "whispers" start! Once we can keep our jobs and keep our homes THEN we'll talk about marriage because right now gay marriage seems like a ploy to trap us into doing something that PROVES we're gay so that our employers can fire us!
(which btw has happened... I personally know a lesbian woman who had just married her partner in Iowa then went into where she worked and asked for her partners benefits - OOPS -
See, she lived on the border of two states, living in one and married in that state, she made the mistake of going into her job, which was two miles away from where she lived but inside the border of another state - a state which allows the firing of gay people solely on the basis of their sexual orientation - now after 23 years of a good work history (not missing one day of work!), she is fired, no benefits, just unemployed AND she is on record as being homosexual to boot!
Disclaimer: I am NOT against gay marriage what-so-ever, I am just pointing out that in this federal democracy, we have many states with many different and opposing laws in regards to glbt rights.
HRC needs to do more research on the people they're talking to!
This is an article from the Nebraska Psychological Associations Newsletter and please notice how the DHHS sat back until VERY recently and allowed the CC to pursue and PASS licensing regs within the NPA that would make it very hard for gay people to get help with mental health issues (and a host of OTHER issues as well). The Regs were recently withdrawn but the CC is threatening the NPA with numerous "consequences" if the regulation is not REadopted...
An Attempt to Establish Discrimination in Licensing Code of Ethics Continues by James K Cole, Ph.D
In the NPA July newsletter I reported on an attempt by the National Catholic Conference to introduce a regulation change to the Psychology Licensing Board that would endorse the right of psychologists to discriminate against clients by refusing psychological services, or even referrals for services, based on a claim by providers of a superior religious or moral conviction. The proposal, misleadingly labeled a "conscience conviction" policy, focuses primarily on excluding gay clients from receiving behavioral health services, but also, as stated in the CC letter to DHHS, it would potentially prevent needed behavioral services to clients based on a client's religion and sexual identity as well as a host of other classes of individuals judged to be living in sin. It opens Pandoras box to a morally preverted regulation that fundamentally alters the core reason for our Code of Ethics: Do no harm. This proposal is unique to Nebraska. According to the APA Practice Directorate there is nothing remotely like it in another other state in the United Sates of Canada.
The good news is that the licensing regulations can only be written by licensing boards. The bad news is that the DHHS, state attorneys, the Board of Health and the Governor must approve proposed regulations before they become a part of the existing licensing regulations. What the "political powers" can do is prevent other proposed regulations needed to improve current licensing regulations from being processed through the state system. In effect the has been a persistent attempt to coerce the Licensing Board to accept the CC discrimination proposal by refusing to pass the needed regulations on to the Board of Health. CC has obvious political clout in Nebraska.
On July 10, I planned to present testimony to the LMHP licensing board (The Board of Mental Health Practice) opposing the CC proposal (apparently they never actually reviewed it), trusting instead the DHHS, had previously voted to accept the CC proposal. Unfortunately I had a seizure caused by cancer cells to the brain and was unable to appear before the Board. Fortunately, the CEO for Nebraska Social Work read my paper to the Board. While hospitalized waiting for a craniotomy, a Board member called me at the hospital and said the Board agreed "100%" with my argument and consequently voted to reverse their decision to accept the CC proposal.
This means the LMHP Board is united with the Psychology Board in refusing to accept the CC proposal. At their last board meeting I was able to meet with them to think them for the courage they showed in changing their position.
There have been about six individual private (was this legal?) and public meetings between the CC representatives and the Psychology Licensing Board or representatives of the Board. In all meetings DHHS attempted to encourage a compromise or solution. CC has continued in all meetings to insist that their proposal be accepted. The Board of Psychology has consistently resisted any change in our Code of Ethics that involves discrimination. You should be proud of the arguments made by the Chair of the Licensing Board and other members of the Board in resisting this morally corrupt proposal.
In a bit of good news, Dr. Joann Schaefer, the chief negotiator for DHHS, recently presented the following proposed discrimination statement (Note words in bold added by Dr. Carver and S. Sumrall):
Credential holders must provide professional assistance to patients/clients without discrimination on the basis of race, age, ethnicity, culture, language, socioeconomic status, disability, gender, gender identity, health status, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation. If the practitioner is unable to provide such services for any reason, the credential holder must refer to an appropriate provider based on the behavioral needs of the clients/patients, or direct such patients/clients to an appropriate behavioral health professional association."
Not unexpectedly CC refused to accept this statement, but for the first time Dr. Schaefer appears to agree with the Board's position. (She may have privately agreed all along.) The bad news is that she apparently continues to be pressured by the politically powerful to accommodate the Catholic Conference proposal or some version of it. Consequently the above anti-discrimination statement is moot. As of the writing of this article there has been no movement in actually resolving this attempt to pervert our Code of Ethics.
My question is: What statutory authority gives a religious lobbyist or organization, or any private interest organization, authority to advance or prevent from advancing licensing regulations proposed by licensing boards?
Finally, it appears to me that further delay on behalf of the CC proposal represents a potential restraint of trade issue: the right of licensed psychologists to practice consistent with licensing regulations and the Code of Ethics.
To quote Mr. Welch's statement to Senator McCarthy at the June 1954 hearings: "You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you no sense of decency?"
James K. Cole, Ph.D
Apparently the CC has no sense of decency ..not in Nebraska but this is the same state where the Bishop of the Lincoln, NE diocese (Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz) had all of the members of the Call to Action group excommunicated (the only place in the USA that did so - and yes, the Call to Action organization exists coast to coast).
NE ...it's harsh out here ..and I ain't talking about only the weather. :(
Thanks for listening!
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