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UK Government Urged to Pardon the 49,000 Men and Women Who Were Persecuted Under Anti-gay Laws

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Spurred to action in response to the public's newfound awareness of gay World War II codebreaker Alan Turing, actors and activists are now calling on the British government to pardon the tens of thousands of other British citizens who were persecuted under draconian anti-gay laws of the past. 

In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II pardoned Turing, who committed suicide after being convicted of "gross indecency" for being gay.

Following a screening of The Imitation Game in London Wednesday, actor Stephen Fry said the pardon was only the start of what should be done to honor Turing. 

Via The Hollywood Reporter:

Fry

"Should Alan Turing have been pardoned just because he was a genius," Fry asked, "when somewhere between 50 to 70 thousand other men were imprisoned, chemically castrated, had their lives ruined or indeed committed suicide because of the laws under which Turing suffered? There is a general feeling that perhaps if he should be pardoned, then perhaps so should all of those men, whose names were ruined in their lifetime, but who still have families." He continued, "It was a nasty, malicious and horrific law and one that allowed so much blackmail and so much misery and so much distress. Turing stands as a figure symbolic to his own age in the way that Oscar Wilde was, who suffered under a more but similar one."

[Benedict] Cumberbatch, meanwhile, emailed THR from the set of the next Sherlock series to offer his full and enthusiastic agreement with Fry's idea. "Alan Turing was not only prosecuted, but quite arguably persuaded to end his own life early, by a society who called him a criminal for simply seeking out the love he deserved, as all human beings do. 60 years later, that same government claimed to ‘forgive’ him by pardoning him. I find this deplorable, because Turing’s actions did not warrant forgiveness — theirs did — and the 49,000 other prosecuted men deserve the same."

HRC president Chad Griffin ran an ad in Friday's New York Times on the campaign to pardon the other 49,000 persecuted gay men and women. You can check out the full ad, AFTER THE JUMP...

There's also a Change.org petition underway for the campaign HERE

Continue reading "UK Government Urged to Pardon the 49,000 Men and Women Who Were Persecuted Under Anti-gay Laws" »


Chad Griffin Grilled on Whether HRC Would Support LGBT Civil Rights Bill With Broader Religious Exemption

Some additional follow-up from Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade regarding Senator Jeff Merkley's (D-OR) announcement Wednesday that he'll spearhead a comprehensive LGBT civil rights bill in the next session of Congress.

Johnson reports: Merkley

In response to a question from the Washington Blade during the question-and-answer portion of the event, Merkley said he expects discussions among stakeholders to take place on the religious exemption for the legislation, but he wants language that should track "identically the provisions that we currently have for race."

Given his support for legislation that would have a religious exemption mirroring existing civil rights law, one idea, as opposed to a standalone bill for comprehensive protections, is amending the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Merkley wouldn't rule out the possibility of that path when asked about it by the Blade.

"That certainly is a possible strategy," Merkley said. "And because I want to bring forward a coalition and work in partnership with the stakeholders, I won't now say that there is only one path to get there, but that is certainly one of the strong candidates."

C_griffinJohnson then took his questions to HRC President Chad Griffin:

LGBT advocates who took part in a panel discussion after Merkley's remarks, including Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, expressed a strong preference for a comprehensive bill with a narrow religious exemption.

...

Griffin said there's "universal agreement" from LGBT groups on what the religious exemption should look like, but LGBT advocates have to make a better case for that language on Capitol Hill by saying LGBT people want the same exemption that exists for other groups under existing law.

"It already exists in law," Griffin said. "There's already a religious exemption, and that's what we've got to do a better job of talking about."

Following the event, the Blade asked Griffin to clarify whether those words mean HRC would decline to support a non-discrimination measure in the upcoming Congress with a broader religious exemption. Griffin replied that he addressed this issue during the event, reiterating that HRC will "support a religious exemption that is the same religious exemption that already exists under law, and I think all of us, all of us — whether advocates, journalists or otherwise — can better make the point that there already is a model religious exemption."

Asked again by the Blade whether that means HRC won't support a bill with a broader religious exemption, Griffin insisted he answered that question directly, adding he doesn't think LGBT allies on Capitol Hill would support a bill with a greater religious carve-out than what's already enshrined under existing civil rights law.


Pro-LGBT Republican Donors To Meet At Secret Washington Conference Today

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Pro-LGBT Republican advocates are today to host the confidential and off-the-record American Unity Conference of high-dollar donors seeking to make the party more LGBT-inclusive, reports the Washington Blade.

The same advocates are behind the American Unity Fund and the American Unity PAC, related groups that seek to elect pro-LGBT Republican candidates and encourage party support for LGBT rights. Both organizations are funded by philanthropist and billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer, who backs LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)Singer - whose sone Andrew is gay - is also scheduled to deliver remarks this morning to kick off the event.

GriffinAccording to sources, Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), is due to speak at the event although his role will be limited to an introduction of Theodore Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general who was lead counsel in the federal lawsuit against California’s Proposition 8 and pending litigation challenging Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. 

Singer and Griffin have worked together on LGBT advocacy issues in the past. In January, HRC under Griffin organized two events on international LGBT rights with Singer at the World Economic Forum.  Americans for Workplace Opportunity, which was set up by Griffin as a collaborative project with other pro-LGBT groups to pass ENDA, also reportedly received a donation of $375,000 from Singer to encourage House members to vote for the bill.

Other scheduled speakers include Ken Mehlman, the former chair of the Republican National Committee who later came out as gay and has since worked to advance marriage equality; Rep. Charlie Dent, one of four House Republicans advocating for same-sex marriage and a House Republican co-sponsor of ENDA; and Dan Innis, a gay former dean of business at the University of New Hampshire who recently lost his bid to represent the state’s 1st congressional district in the U.S. House.


Barney Frank Criticizes HRC President Chad Griffin's Apology to the Trans Community for ENDA 2007

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In an interview with The GA Voice, Barney Frank sounds off on Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin's recent apology to the transgender community for HRC's endorsement of a stripped down version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act back in 2007 that did not provide gender identity protections alongside sexual orientation.

That bill, introduced by Frank, passed the House 235-184 but was never voted on in the Senate. 

Said Frank:

Chad Griffin’s one of those people whose political judgment seems to be off. The fact is that HRC and I and everybody else were for an inclusive bill in 2007. The issue was we did not have the votes for an inclusive bill. It wasn’t a failure of will. Then the question was, was something better than nothing? Was it better to pass a bill that was protective of lesbian, gay and bisexual people or pass nothing? We tried very hard.

JohnsonPeople have this mistaken view of the civil rights movement and say, ‘Well the black people never compromised, they got the whole thing.’ That is just silly nonsense. The first civil rights bill that was passed in ’57 was fairly moderate but it had some good things, and then one passed in ’60, and then one passed in ’64. People are now saying, ‘Well we don’t want ENDA to be just about employment, we want it cover housing, etc.” Well that national federal civil rights bill that Lyndon Johnson signed in 1964 that we’re all celebrating today didn’t include housing! Housing didn’t come until a separate bill was passed after Martin Luther King was murdered in 1968. The notion that you can win your entire victory at once is historically and politically flawed.

The transgender community had this mistaken view that if Nancy Pelosi waved a magic wand, transgender would be included. And we were insisting to them that, look we don’t have the votes, help us lobby. Instead of trying to put pressure on the people who were against them, they thought they could just insist that we do it. We said, ‘We’re trying, but we need your help.’

Frank goes on in the interview to discuss how the topic of trans rights has come a long way in the seven years since then, as well as reveal what he misses most about being a congressman - the friendships and the ability to influence policy. 

Check out the full interview HERE


HRC President Chad Griffin Apologizes To The Transgender Community: READ

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Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, formally apologized to members of the transgender community last Friday at this year’s Southern Comfort Conference in Atlanta. The HRC has long-since dealt with widespread criticism of its seeming willingness to put trans-advocacy on the back burner in favor of issues affecting cisgender members of the queer community.

In 2007, the HRC publicly endorsed an early version of the Employee Non Discrimination Act that did not provide protections for individuals facing gender-based discrimination. At that time the HRC defended its decision arguing that by removing protections for trans individuals initially, ENDA would be easier to pass and subsequently update to bring transgender people into the fold.

“I am sorry for the times you have been underrepresented or unrepresented by this organization. What happens to trans people is absolutely central to the LGBT struggle,” Griffin intoned. “And as the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, HRC has a responsibility to do that struggle justice, or else we are failing at our fundamental mission.”

Griffin went on to assert that a fully inclusive version of ENDA was far from being all that the HRC could do to show its renewed support for the trans community. Acknowledging many of the socio-infrastructural challenges the trans community faces, Griffin expressed the HRC’s desire to pursue substantive legislative change meant specifically to benefit trans individuals.

In rooms like this one, for years, you have been making the case that we’ve got to change society at a fundamental level by lifting up more trans people, your lives, and your stories.

You’re right. And if there’s one thing we’ve all learned in this movement, it’s that once Americans come to really know us, it starts to become impossible to discriminate against us. And at our best, HRC offers an unmatched communications and public affairs platform to amplify LGBT stories across the country.

Read a transcript of Chad Griffin's apology to the transgender community AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "HRC President Chad Griffin Apologizes To The Transgender Community: READ" »


HRC's Chad Griffin Says Congress Must Narrow ENDA's Religious Exemption and Pass Full LGBT Civil Rights Bill

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin on Wednesday called on Congress to narrow the religious exemption in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act one day after several other top LGBT rights groups including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the ACLU pulled their support of the bill.

GriffinHRC had come under criticism for standing by the bill. Said Griffin in today's statement, posted at Buzzfeed:

The Human Rights Campaign supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for a very simple reason. It will guarantee millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all 50 states explicit, reliable protections from discrimination in the workplace. We call on our allies in Congress to improve this bill’s overly broad religious exemption. A strong ENDA is worth fighting for because we cannot ignore the urgent need of countless LGBT people who do not have the luxury of waiting for these protections.

...We cannot and will not ignore the imperative of this moment. As long as this Congress is in session, we will fight for ENDA — with a narrowed religious exemption — because these workplace protections will change millions of lives for the better. But this movement has a responsibility to also chart a course for the future.

Griffin also stated the need for a full LGBT civil rights bill:

But regardless of whether or not ENDA passes in this session of Congress, it is time for the LGBT movement to throw its weight behind a fully comprehensive LGBT civil rights bill. A bill that, at long last, would bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in all core civil rights categories — including housing, public accommodations, credit, education and, if ENDA fails to pass, in employment. This is a visionary idea that Congresswoman Bella Abzug brought to Congress in 1974. Its time has come.


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