Thursday, December 13, 2007

It getting rough out there, in here and more...

Boys and Girls, in our last post we stated that it is was getting rough out there, and we're not kidding. There were so many instances of this roughness that I needed to offer a second helping and who knows maybe even a part three. "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you gonna get," was the simplistic view from character Forrest Gump which has some semblance of truth within it. But ultimately it's our self relliance, responsiblity and "reality checks" that will carry you forward. Yes, it' rough out here, however, I'm undeterred to keep bringing you breaking news, updates, commentary, video, podcasting and links. Let the roughness begin...

Where's the Party?: In recent conversations, I've been enlightend about the seeminly off kilter or errrily strange fact that area bar crowds are fluctuating wildly. Due to my demanding schedule I don't always make the late night rounds but I do try to get an early start and make efforts for special events. However, those die heart party goers have made mention to me that the bars are in a "hit or miss" mode. Case in point, it seems that Backstreet has a relatively good turn out on "Friday's" but is a ghost town on Saturday's. Discovery, open only on Staturday nights still has it's loyal fans among the straight crowd and those who haven't decided. Over at UBU, the situation is steady on most weekend outings, with women dominating the venue but openly welcoming the alternative lifestyle crowd. Meanwhile, piano bar Easy Street, continues it's slow weekday build up to it's weekend offering with Saturday night's show crooner, Michael Henderson and other special events. Across town, DSRA's Clubhouse has been humming with activity, yet volume crowds are still mysteriously elusive. I've trired to get a vibe on Club Good Times but everyone I've asked doesn't know anything about it. I guess I'll have to do a first hand assessment then let you know. What's up with this?...well, it's been reported that the era of gay bars and venues are undergoing serious challenges from the E-World, economics and changing needs. As I've long stated, if we don't support them, perhaps they won't be around to support us. Think about it.

Dissing HRC: The Human Rights Campaign's debacle on ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) is still outraging a host of folks from coast to coast. In case you some how missed it, the national organization waffled, flipped-flopped and played hard ball in the arena of Congressional politics surrounding the inclusion of transgendered individuals within the legislation. My inbox was swamped with mail about the issue and subsequent vote. However, it was the following article that really demonstrates the disdain that HRC has spurred on all levels of the lavender landscape. Locally, there were those who were monitoring the dilemma, but when I inquired to many, most were clueless. For the record I contacted my D.C. represenatives, signed online petitions, posted updated info and asked for reactions, but got none to date.

No Gotham Welcome Wagon For HRC By


After repeatedly defending the Human Rights Campaign strategy for passing the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) withoutprotections for transgendered people, a senior HRC staffer said thelobbying group would have employed a different strategy had it knownits efforts would result in an angry response. "We probably would not have played it out the same way," said David M.Smith, HRC's vice president of programs, when asked what HRC would doif the group got a "do-over."Smith's comments came at the close of a 90-minute town meeting held at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center on December5.Smith and Sultan Shakir, HRC's regional field director, faced witheringand often angry questioning about the organization's shifting positions on ENDA - that went from supporting transgender inclusion, toneutrality after transgender protections were tossed out, and finallyto aggressively backing the bill before its November 7 vote.ENDA, which passed the US House by a vote of 235 to 184, bans job discrimination based on sexual orientation. It was first introduced in1994 and gender identity and expression, classes seen as protectingtransgendered people, were added for the first time in 2007.Smith said the bill, even with the transgender protections gone, had little chance of passing in the Senate and was even less likely toavoid a veto if it reached the White House.When HRC saw in late September of this year that ENDA would fail withgender identity and expression included, the group decided to back the bill with just sexual orientation as a first step toward getting alater "inclusive" bill, or one that has transgender protections, Smithsaid."When it was likely the bill was coming to the floor we thought it was important to pass that bill and build on that success," Smith said."We're not going to stop until an inclusive bill passes and gets to apresident who will sign it."HRC had lobbied for a transgender-inclusive bill in 30 to 40 congressional districts and had spent hundreds of thousands of dollarsto win support. Had the House voted down transgender-inclusion as aseparate ENDA amendment, that would have damaged future efforts toinclude such protections, Smith said. "That would have done enormous harm to the cause of transgenderequality for many years to come," Smith said.The community members and activists who came to the meeting simply didnot believe Smith and Shakir. Audience members repeatedly said they did not trust HRC and did not believe that the group had acted honestly inthe run-up to the vote."I want to know why transgendered people have to be sacrificed on thealtar of political expediency," said Joann Prinzivalli, a lawyer for the New York Transgender Rights Organization.The general view is that HRC and the Democratic leadership in the Housewere more concerned with getting a victory for the lesbian and gaycommunity than enacting an inclusive bill and that when transgender inclusion threatened that victory it was easily discarded. This wasdone "at the very last minute because Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosiwanted to move forward for their own selfish reasons," said Pauline Park, a founder of the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy.Speaker Pelosi, from San Francisco, and Frank, an openly-gayrepresentative from Massachusetts, were among those members who led thefight to pass ENDA. Frank aggressively defended the choice to toss out transgender protections.Less than two days before the November vote, HRC released a poll thatshowed broad support for passing ENDA without transgender protectionsamong gay men and lesbians. The poll was completed in early October. "[HRC] manipulated the poll data in order to give Barney Frank apretext to eliminate transgender protections," Park said. In a move that was seen as pressuring members to support ENDA, HRC announced prior to November 7 that it would score members on their votes. Seven Democrats, who are longtime gay community supporters and opposed ENDA because it lacked transgender protections, could be hurtby that, some audience members said."You screwed up on this every step of the way and I don't say that as an HRC basher," said Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden StateEquality, a New Jersey gay group, who objected to the scoring. "You'reabout to enter another land mine."Goldstein commended the HRC staffers for taking their "humility tour" and he suggested it continue when his organization honors United ENDA,a coalition of more than 360 gay community groups that opposed removingtransgender protections. Joe Solmonese, HRC's president, should present the award to United ENDA, Goldstein said.

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