Sunday, November 06, 2005

HRC's Solmonese Welcomed By Indy's GLBT Community

Nearly 200 supporters and leaders of Indianapolis' GLBT community gathered this evening at Agio' Restaurant to meet Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. The gay civil rights leader mingled with guests before delivering a 20-minute speech to the group followed by questions from the audience.

Solmonese is no stranger to Indianapolis. He spent the better part of the year living in Indianapolis in 1996 while working for the election of Rep. Julia Carson (D-Indianapolis). He quipped that he had become very familiar with the city speeding around in Carson's trademark black Park Avenue Buick.

Solmonese told the group that he has devoted a great deal of time during his inaugural year as HRC's president traveling to dozens of cities and states to get in touch with issues of local concern, and to build grassroots support for the organization's lobbying efforts, primarily at the national level. Solmonese pledged additional attention and support for Indiana in the future.

Part of HRC's efforts, according to Solmonese, has been to strengthen relationships with America's business community, where HRC's efforts at achieving equality have proven more successful in recent years than legislative efforts in Congress. However, Solmonese noted this year's success in passing hate crimes legislation in the House of Representatives for the first time. That measure is currently pending in the Senate, where it is being co-sponsored by Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR).

In response to a questioned posed by Advance Indiana editor, Gary R. Welsh, Solmonese agreed that bipartisan support for gay civil rights is essential to success, and that HRC is making a concerted effort to reach out more to Republicans in Congress. He noted that the hate crimes legislation would not have been possible without the critical support and leadership of Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT), who helped garner support from 30 of his Republican colleagues to give the measure the requisite number of votes needed to amend it to the Children's Safety Act bill.

Solmonese contended with criticism from one questioner about HRC's past support of hate crimes legislation and other civil rights measures which lacked coverage for transgender Americans. Solmonese assured the questioner of HRC's commitment to the transgender community. He indicated that their legislative supporters had warned HRC that the inclusion of the transgender community in the hate crimes legislation would cause the measure to lose Republican support. In fact, no Republican support was lost according to Solmonese with transgender inclusion. He indicated that HRC is supporting transgender inclusion in the Senate.

Several GLBT organizations were recognized for their participation in the HRC-sponsored event, including Indianapolis Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Equality and Indiana Action Network. Indianapolis Republican councilor Scott Keller was also recognized for his work on behalf of the community.

1 comment:

Marti said...

"He indicated that HRC is supporting transgender inclusion in the Senate."

That is a flat out lie. HRC is NOT supporting transgenders. Senator Kennedy's version of the hate crimes bill is NOT transinclusive, but the House version IS transinclusive.

You'd think HRC would have some influence over Kennedy since HRC's David Miller used to work for Ted Kennedy and HRC has already given Kennedy $5K in campaign donations.