Check out these updates from Kelley Robinson highlighting key issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community in a special note for members and supporters of HRC.
Kelley's Weekly Message: 9/01/23
Last weekend underscored for me why we’re in this fight. I was particularly struck by the magic and power of gathering together in large numbers and in coalition with others to speak out and march for our rights and then to celebrate our joy. The March on Washington, 60th Anniversary, and the Equality Ball in Las Vegas were tremendous successes in their own right and important milestones in our journey to equality and liberation for everyone. Yet, they also occurred in a broader context of still another racially motivated shooting, this time in Jacksonville, Florida.
The March on Washington. We gathered for the March on Saturday to celebrate the legacies of Dr. King, John Lewis, Bayard Rustin and the civil rights movement and to fight for change, as our ancestors did. Bayard Rustin was the lead organizer of the original March on Washington — and he lived his life loudly and proudly as a Black gay man. His courage and leadership prove that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people have always been here, not just as your uncle’s long-term roommate, but as strategists, organizers and leaders in national movements for positive change. And we will always be here to fight for freedom without exception.
I was joined on stage at the March by the Ballard family. Zion Ballard is 18 years old, proudly Black and proudly trans. When he came out to his parents 4 years ago, they reacted as every parent should: with unconditional love. And ultimately, that’s why we marched — the fight is and always has been about loving each other enough to fight for our collective freedom… Freedom to dance our hearts out, without getting stabbed like O’Shae Sibley was. Freedom to wave our Pride flags, without being shot like Laura Ann Carleton was. Freedom to send our kids to school without worrying about what they’re being taught or if they’ll make it home. Freedom to live in an America where the color of your skin and who you love never dictate the length of your life.
So, if you’ve got a queer, trans or non-binary child, love them completely. If you’ve got a Pride flag, fly it proudly. And if you’ve got a vote, you had better use it. Pledge to vote and do more — rally your family, neighbors and colleagues to vote; volunteer for a campaign; and support pro-equality candidates in the elections ahead. What’s happening in our country right now is too important to sit on the sidelines. We have to vote and get involved in other ways, too.
The Equality Ball. As LGBTQ+ people and allies, putting our joy on center stage is also an act of defiance, a crucial part of our work for liberation, which is what the Human Rights Campaign Foundation did last Sunday night at the inaugural Equality Ball. We danced! We celebrated and uplifted Black and Brown queer joy! And we created an epic event in association with Beeline Productions and the Shady Gang, support from the BeyGOOD Foundation, and the participation of acclaimed, professional entertainers, performers, dancers, actors and drag queens.
Ballroom culture is where queerness and Blackness come together, where generations of us have found chosen families and safe spaces, where we have found empowerment through expression and where we have elevated vogueing to an artform. We celebrated our roots — and declared that we will not be uprooted. And channeling the good Reverend Doctor Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, iconic mother of the House of Renaissance, we proclaimed that nothing can break our souls.
Jacksonville, Florida. Last Saturday, while we marched in Washington and prepared to dance in Las Vegas, another American community was wounded by the scourge of horrific, racially motivated violence that has been used to attack Black people and sustain white supremacy in America for centuries. Angela Michelle Carr, 52; A.J. Laguerre, 19; and Jerrald Gallion, 29, were stolen from us on Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida, by a young white man who hated Black people. As far as we know now, the attacker used two legally purchased guns — a Glock handgun and an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle — to shoot up a Dollar General store near a Historically Black University. Law enforcement has opened a federal civil rights investigation into this possible hate crime and act of domestic violent extremism. And we grieve with the people of Jacksonville, Florida.
Our hearts also go out to our members, supporters, allies and family impacted by Hurricane Idalia.
It should be noted here, too, that on Wednesday, just two months after HRC declared a national state of emergency in response to the unprecedented and dangerous onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ laws passed across the states — and threats of violence against LGBTQ+ people, including the Human Rights Campaign — the Canadian government updated its U.S. travel policy, warning LGBTQ+ Canadians about traveling to the country. When another country affirms the state of emergency that LGBTQ+ people in the United States are currently living through, it only further validates the grim reality that our community is facing. LGBTQ+ people from all over the world must stay informed about the risks and realities when traveling to and throughout the states.
And just yesterday, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that a ban on medically necessary gender-affirming care for transgender youth will go into effect today. This is devastating news. The ruling means that trans youth will be banned from beginning care or will have to cease current treatment. It’s an attack on the rights of Texas families and physicians to determine best practice standards of care for transgender youth. To be clear: Banning care for trans youth will not ban trans youth — but it will make their journey more difficult.
Last weekend, we gathered to finish the work that was started 60 years ago and more, and I have to believe that, despite the setbacks, if we lock arms and fight together, there is freedom waiting for us on the other side. But we must continue to march, dance, vote, volunteer, donate, show up, speak out, have important conversations, root out white supremacy, uplift the most marginalized among us, mourn, organize, rally, litigate and participate in our democracy. Let’s continue to fight and bend the moral arc of the universe, friends, and let’s get free.
Kelley's Weekly Message: 09/15/23
The leaves are changing. Kids are going back to school. National Hispanic Heritage Month begins today, and we’re celebrating Rosh Hashanah this weekend.
As fall begins, however, we’re still living in a state of emergency. With the House of Representatives back in session, extremist politicians who introduced dozens of anti-LGBTQ provisions this summer are back at it in Washington. Meanwhile, as students return to the classroom, our LGBTQ+ youth are facing a barrage of anti-equality legislation that takes away their healthcare, bans books, bans their participation in sports, erases Black history, and forces teachers to out or misgender them — all under the guise of “parental rights.”
Of course, schools should be places where all of our children are free to be who they are and where we lay a foundation for who they will become. And every student should be free to go to school without fear of discrimination or violence to them or their families. It’s time for us to fight back against the extremist attacks on our kids. That’s why we’re gearing up for the Greater than Hate “Parents Week of Action” (mark your calendars: September 23-30) — to show up and show out for students, and their families, as they get back in the swing of the school year. We’ll help you to find an event, host an event, share on social media and write a letter to your local school board.
Our Greater than Hate coalition is fighting back against extremist politicians and their increasingly dangerous campaign of hate. Our partners include Everytown for Gun Safety, the NAACP, the National Education Association, the National Women’s Law Center, Equality Federation, Asians Fighting Injustice, and the National Center for Transgender Equality.
And our “Parents Week of Action” features events and activities from Arizona and Texas to Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Even if you can’t attend a “Parents Week of Action” event, you can still take the nationwide Parents’ Pledge here.
In spite of the challenges, we have some real heroes out there to celebrate. Last night, Olivia Hill was elected to Nashville’s Metro Council — the first openly transgender person elected to office in Tennessee. Hill has a message for every trans kid in Tennessee who felt like they didn’t belong: “We are valid. We are who we say we are. And we are going to move forward.”
And in Delaware, state senator Sarah McBride is polling 21 points ahead of her nearest opponent in her history-making bid for that state’s at-large Congressional seat. The Human Rights Campaign PAC endorsed McBride last June. She is the first openly transgender state senator in American history and the highest-ranking transgender elected official. McBride’s win would not only be historic but also deeply meaningful for transgender representation in the nation’s capital — sending a clear message that transgender people cannot and will not be erased.
Parents and allies have tremendous power when we come together and speak with one voice. Together, we will tell lawmakers to support and uplift all of our children — and show the extremists that we are greater than their hate. United, we will tell the fear-mongers that enough is enough — our kids won’t be pawns in their hateful game of division and culture war. We will make good on our promise to ensure that all children are free to learn, grow and thrive exactly as they are and as they are becoming.
Kelley's Weekly Message: 09/28/23
Today brings sad news as we lost one of our allies and champions, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a fierce advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. The longest-serving woman in the U.S. Senate and a lead sponsor of the landmark Respect for Marriage Act, which secured federal protections for same-sex marriages, the senator died on Thursday night at age 90.
Senator Feinstein was a champion for LGBTQ+ equality and a trailblazer in American politics. We mourn her loss but will carry her legacy forward by recommitting ourselves to the fight for justice and equality for all, without exception. Her passing leaves a vacancy in the Senate at a time when bold leadership is urgently needed. Governor Gavin Newsom has promised to appoint a Black woman to this seat. We wholeheartedly support the governor's commitment and expect that whomever he appoints will carry on the senator’s legacy as a stalwart champion for the LGBTQ+ community.
As we grapple with this loss, we must also level set what we’ve experienced this week and call out anti-LGBTQ+ House Republicans who are going to shut down the federal government tomorrow at midnight. This is not a drill: we are just hours away from a government shutdown, in no small part because of political maneuvering and attacks against our community by radicals in the House Republican caucus, which can’t even govern itself. This shutdown will adversely impact the most marginalized people among us, including the LGBTQ+ community, despite a majority of Americans believing that House Republicans should stop the infighting and get back to work for our country, families and national security.
The extreme right has refused to pursue bipartisan funding bills that would keep the government functioning, instead insisting on provisions that would strip away rights and discriminate by denying transgender people life-saving healthcare, banning Pride flags on federal property, blocking non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people and so much more.
In addition, extremist Republicans in the House are also pursuing stand-alone bills such as H.R. 734, which would ban transgender students from playing school sports nationwide, and H.R. 5, which includes book bans and provisions further stigmatizing transgender youth.
A shutdown is the height of irresponsibility.
The Human Rights Campaign is fighting back. This week, with the support of our 3 million members and supporters, we launched a six-figure “Grind to a Halt” national television ad campaign. Our ad is airing across major national outlets, cable networks and digital streaming services, urging Americans to tell Members of Congress to stop putting politics ahead of our nation’s needs and reject the extremism of those like Congressman Matt Gaetz, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and members of the so-called Freedom Caucus. You can watch our ad here.
There’s more that you can do to help: *Text NOSHUTDOWN to 472472 and tell Congress to reject the politics of hate and stop the government shutdown. We simply cannot allow a few MAGA politicians to hold the entire government hostage. Let’s work together now to protect our rights and ensure a more inclusive future.
That’s what the American people want from their leaders, including candidates for President of the United States. On Wednesday, seven presidential candidates appeared on stage for the second GOP primary debate. As part of continued efforts to appeal to the fringes of their base, however, the candidates have repeatedly targeted the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, women, immigrants and people of color. Their rhetoric and actions in office are fueling the state of emergency impacting LGBTQ+ people across the country. They are also wildly out of touch with the views of most Americans who reject their divide-and-conquer politics of hate.
The fact is the vast majority of Americans — 7 in 10 — believe that politicians are not informed enough about gender-affirming care to create fair policies. According to new polling released this month, Americans would prefer that politicians either protect transgender people or not focus on transgender issues at all.
Furthermore, likely voters across all political parties look at extremist efforts to flood state legislatures with anti-LGBTQ+ bills as political theater. Polling indicates that 64% of all likely voters think there is “too much legislation” aimed at limiting the rights of transgender and gay people in America. And two national polls found that majorities of Americans oppose banning or criminalizing gender transition-related medical care for minors.
Majorities also disapprove of banning LGBTQ+ content in schools, and banning drag shows is deeply unpopular with the public as well. More than two-thirds of Americans oppose denial of service to LGBTQ+ individuals because of religious objections to homosexuality, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in the 303 Creative case, which validated such discrimination in certain instances.
These figures indicate that we must do more to increase visibility and representation and grow our political power. The American people are on our side — we must engage and activate our movement and mobilize our allies. That is our mission as we head into 2024.