Marriage equality rally groups apologize for exclusionary actions


Groups involved with the massive marriage equality rallies last week at the U.S. Supreme Court are apologizing for two exclusionary actions that took place.

In once instance, an activist was asked to move a transgender Pride flag from behind the podium. In another instance, an activist who spoke at the rally was asked to remove a reference to being an undocumented immigrant from a speech.

For both incidents, the United for Marriage coalition, the GetEQUAL activist group and the Human Rights Campaign issued apologies.

HRC vice president Fred Sainz stated, in part, “HRC regrets the incidents and offers our apologies to those who were hurt by our actions. We failed to live up to the high standard to which we hold ourselves accountable and we will strive to do better in the future. Through both our legislative and programmatic work, HRC remains committed to making transgender equality a reality.”

GetEQUAL co-director Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, in a statement titled “A Heart to Heart with the LGBT Community,” said, in part, “As one of the members of the coordinating committee that led the efforts around the country and in DC, GetEQUAL wants to reaffirm our commitment to being radically inclusive. Our commitment to inclusiveness is deep and it is reflected in our campaigns, in our organizational culture and in our leadership. We have deliberately debated how to respond to the issues that happened on Wednesday in Washington, DC. We have decided to go beyond just an apology and create a few organizational commitments — commitments that we expect that the community will hold us accountable to: We are committed to making sure that the voices of trans people and people of color are part of our leadership bodies such as the board directors and our organizing structures. We will push like hell for the passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform because we will not let more than 250,000 LGBTQ immigrants live under the constant threat of deportation. We will continue pressuring President Obama to sign the executive order that can protect 25% of the labor force in this country against workplace discrimination. We will also push Congress to pass a fully inclusive ENDA, one that would protect our trans* sisters and brothers, so all of our people can thrive in this tough economy. We will continue highlighting and honoring through our local and national organizing the beauty in the diversity of experiences in our community.”

The United for Marriage Coalition issued a joint statement on behalf of its 180 partner organizations that said, “Over the course of two days, we were joined by over 50 speakers from the LGBT community and from allies in the labor, women’s, civil rights, faith, and immigration movements. As a coalition we have achieved historic accomplishments and have become stronger together.

“We came together as a coalition to speak to America about the values of love and commitment, to mobilize people across the country to build a groundswell of support for the freedom to marry, and to prepare people for the work ahead. We have achieved so much this week as a movement and as a nation.

“Since the conclusion of the rallies on Wednesday, the coalition has learned about the mistreatment of a few individuals who were attending and speaking at the rallies. In one case, a queer undocumented activist was asked to edit his speech to hide part of who he is. In another case, several activists were asked to lower the trans* pride flag in order to keep out of the scope of TV cameras.

“We apologize for having caused harm to the individuals involved. Apologies are being made individually and collectively and we are working to make direct amends.

“We know that apologies alone are not enough. We are committing to the following steps: Individuals involved with the process of talking with rally speakers about the content of their speeches are reaching out to apologize for harm caused. We will build on our conversations to also seek ways that we can come together for joint action on issues of shared concerns such as immigration reform and other issues that advance equality and justice. Individuals involved with the request to lower the trans Pride flag are reaching out to apologize for harm caused. Opportunities for broader education on both trans* and queer undocumented issues within the greater LGBT community will be taken.”