Earlier this week, when more than 90 national and state LGBT organisations came together to send a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to “reject substitute legislation that removes transgender protections from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” one organisation was conspicuously absent: the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

At the time, the HRC refused to comment on the situation, with president Joe Solmonese saying in a release that news of the altered bill (which was split into two parts late last week, one offering protections for gays, lesbians and bisexuals and the other supporting transsexuals) was “devastating,” but offering no other insight into how the Washington, D.C.-based organisation would react.

On Monday night, HRC’s board of directors changed all that by voting to reaffirm the 2004 policy supporting a fully inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

According to a statement released on Tuesday, the board’s position articulates a process for continued dialogue with House leaders about strategies that have been put forth to, in the end, achieve passage of a fully inclusive ENDA.

“We are now faced with definitive Congressional action to move forward a version of the bill stripping gender identity. Though we support a fully inclusive ENDA, we acknowledge the legislative strategy put forth by Congressman Frank and the Democratic leadership to obtain a clear path towards an inclusive bill in the future,” Solmonese said in the release.

“We look forward to working with them to accomplish the goal all of us share-ending workplace discrimination against the entire LGBT community.

“Since 2004, HRC has had in place a policy that supports only a fully inclusive version of ENDA and the board of directors voted to reaffirm that position,” he added.

“Therefore, we are not able to support, nor will we encourage members of Congress to vote against, the newly introduced sexual orientation only bill. And will continue working with our allies in Congress to support a comprehensive, legislative strategy to achieve passage of a fully inclusive ENDA as quickly as possible.”

Addressing the criticism the organisation received after it initially failed to join other LGBT rights groups in condemning the altered version of ENDA, Solmonese said, “Some may say we should have joined the growing chorus of public dissenters earlier. We believed, and still do, that the correct course of action was to continue dialogue with our allies on the Hill and work to the last minute to effect change.

“That decision, in addition to yesterday’s letter signed by LGBT and civil rights organisations, paid off when we were able to engage in direct conversations that resulted in a guarantee from House leadership to postpone the mark-up until later this month.”

Chrys Hudson – Gay Wired; All Rights Reserved