Washington, D.C. -- Planning for the 1999 legislative year in a more favorable political climate were among the topics discussed this past weekend at the quarterly meeting of the Human Rights Campaign's Board of Directors. At the two-day meeting, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and a number of health initiatives were established as top legislative priorities. Other issues addressed include reviewing the organization's criteria for candidate endorsements and passage of a resolution of support for transgender issues.
In the wake of controversy that enveloped HRC's endorsement this year of Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-New York, as well as the 1996 endorsement of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., over Gov. William Weld, R-Mass., the Board began a review of its endorsement policies.
"We adhered to established and publicized criteria in making our endorsement of Senator D'Amato. We believe it would have been highly unethical to change that criteria in the middle of an election cycle. Now that the election cycle is over, we have an obligation to address the level of discontent that this endorsement caused some of our membership," said Jeff Sachse, Co-Chair of HRC's Board of Directors. "While maintaining our firm commitment to bipartisanship, HRC will immediately begin a review at both the staff and board level of the endorsement process, with a specific focus on selection criteria."
At the same meeting, the Board passed the following resolution expressing strong support for public and private initiatives that counter discrimination based on real or perceived gender identity:
"The Human Rights Campaign strongly supports public and private initiatives to counter discrimination based on real or perceived gender identity. We acknowledge the extraordinary work of transgender organizations and leaders and view them as important friends and powerful allies. The Human Rights Campaign is committed to a mutually beneficial relationship with the transgender community. It is our hope that such a relationship will help inform and craft a shared vision of a world that honors and respects all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."
"It is our hope that this resolution will be seen as a first step in reaffirming our strong support for remedies that will ban discrimination based on gender identity," said Candy Marcum, Board of Directors Co-Chair. "We hope to work closely with the transgender community in finding the right solutions."
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian and gay political organization, with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support, and educates the public to ensure that lesbian and gay Americans can be open, honest, and safe at home, at work, and in the community.