Nathan Deal made the right decision when he vetoed HB 757, a so-called “religious freedom” bill that would have trumped any anti-discrimination ordinances in all Georgia counties. The leadup to this expected veto was riveting, as Deal decided to play coy, deploying the practiced charms of a Southern debutante scouting a potential beau. It was top-notch American political theatre, full of proposed boycotts, failed economic partnerships, Bull Connor-style politicians with visibly high cholesterol levels—all the makings of a modern Upton Sinclair longform piece. So with the veto, the story of a Republican governor establishing his legacy as a better than average ally is complete.
On March 20, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin called in the favors of all the Hollywood heavyweights currently invested in Georgia’s booming film market. The call was to veto HB 757; well, Griffin was heard, and before Josh McKoon could put his second Philly cheesesteak down, all of Y’allywood announced they would effectively end business within the Georgia market. If you know anything about Georgia Republicans, you know that this does little to dissuade them. Still, they lost, and it was largely due to the efforts of the HRC. The Human Rights Campaign is really fucking good at mobilizing LGB donations, political interests, and economic influence when attempting to defeat discriminatory legislation. Their efforts were behind the nationwide lobby to pass gay marriage laws, and the chance to present compelling arguments to SCOTUS. All of this is proof that the HRC is a power player when it comes to championing LGB anti-discrimination laws.
There is no fucking T.
Dominic Holden of Buzzfeed wrote a piece detailing Chad Griffin’s ill-fated crusade to stop the Houston legislature from repealing their non-discrimination ordinance. The repeal was motivated by the bumper sticker slogan “No men in women’s bathrooms.” The HRC spent $600,000 fighting the repeal and were outspent, but that’s not why the repeal happened. Since the organization rarely responds to criticism, rarely changes, and is incredibly homogenous, they failed—outright failed—to form counter-arguments, fund media campaigns, or even come up with basic fucking talking points that exposed the utterly asinine nature of a goddamn bumper sticker slogan. That’s right. The HRC was defeated by a bumper sticker. All because they’re a bunch of out-of-touch asshats.
If the shortcomings of America’s most powerful gay lobby and their complete ineptitude regarding transgender bigotry escape you—you know, because they’re all gay—then look to an internal report released last June, conducted by the Pipeline Project and commissioned by the HRC. Lack of diversity, trans-tokenism, misogyny, cronyism, and stagnant diversity strategies were objectively identified in this report, which exposes the HRC as a rich white man’s club. Granted, all the white men in this club spend less time golfing, and more time screaming over bottomless mimosas. Female, straight and lesbian, and cis and trans staffers experience the same tired old misogyny that peppers Mad Men episodes. They are seen as less important, and are excluded from the “boy’s club” that is the HRC puppy-pile. Trans staffers suffer the same consequences of the heteronormative gender standards that the rest of the world embraces, save for a few Fortune 500s, as there is a very binary dress code, one gender-neutral restroom, and a very real fear of coming out to fellow staffers. So, working for the HRC is really no different than the standard corporate gig—unsurprising, given the HRC’s almost fetishistic desire for all gays and lesbians to assimilate. Marriage equality was never for radicals—it’s for the people who want to build white picket fences, bake apple pies, and have an extra room for the poolboy.
Griffin’s predecessor, Joe Solmonese, made a promise to the trans community in 2007, stating that the HRC would not support any legislation that was trans-exclusive. Recently, media outlets have condemned the organization’s endorsement of Mark Kirk (R-IL). (You read that right: the Human Rights Campaign, America’s most powerful gay lobby endorsed, a fucking Republican.) This can be explained as an effort to appeal to a broader base, since protecting marriage equality requires bipartisan support. But the HRC chose to endorse a Republican over a pro-LGBT Democrat to further their long game to protect the gays’ right to marry. This would be considered political savvy if it weren’t for the very real fact that in several states GOP lawmakers are toiling away on bills aimed at people’s genitals. The HRC has largely ignored so-called “bathroom bills,” opting instead for the empty platitude of randomized blog posts.
They are more focused on marriage, and as I’ve said before, while the death battle to ensure that two tuxedos and two wedding dresses can rent the Episcopalian Hall of their choice wages, the inconvenience of transgender rights takes a backseat.
So while it's great that Gov. Deal decided to stand on the right side of history, don’t expect Hollywood to come calling when Sen. McKoon turns his beady eyes to Georgia’s genderqueer population, because frankly, Griffin won’t give a shit. There won’t be an email blast, and there won’t be any Facebook filter campaigns, because right now what matters is marriage.
So, we’ll just sit here and wait our turn.
Zaida J. is currently a Features Editor here at WUSSY and a self-described transgender loud mouth.