HRC Convention Speakers Encourage Change in Wake of Anti-LGBT Politics

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At this year’s Human Right Campaign spring convention tensions were high against President Trump and his cabinet in light of their actions against the LGBT community. 

Senator Maggie Hassan, a Democrat from New Hampshire gave a keynote speech in which she criticized Trump and his consistently anti-LGBT cabinet for the actions they have taken to limit the rights and protections of all students, including those who identify as transgender. 

“So let’s be clear: Every student deserves the right to learn in an inclusive, safe environment, but there is clear evidence that transgender students are subjected to devastating levels of bullying and discrimination in schools,” Hassan said in her speech. 

“Our government should be focused on ensuring that all students are safe and it is unacceptable that the administration would prioritize rolling back protections for our most vulnerable students,” she continued. 

Hassan voted in 2009 as a state legislature in favor of marriage equality, making New Hampshire one of the first states to allow same-sex marriage. 

On Thursday, New Hampshire’s House of Representatives voted to table a bill that would have added gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination law, according to the Washington Blade. Hassan addressed the decision in her keynote speech. 

“I’m disappointed that yesterday the New Hampshire House voted to table legislation designed to enact additional protections for transgender citizens in our state, but I know that legislatures will continue fighting for transgender rights,” Hassan said. 

The House also rejected a motion to reconsider debate of House Bill 478, introduced by gay state representative Ed Butler, which would have banned gender identity discrimination in housing, employment and accommodations. 

“I introduced HB 478 because transgender Granite Staters need to be protected from the real and pervasive discrimination they face,” Butler said. “It motivates me to redouble my efforts to ensure everyone in New Hampshire is treated equally and fairly under the law, including transgender residents and visitors.” 

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign also spoke — telling the audience that the LGBT community is “under siege” under a president who is “hell-bent on undoing all of our progress,” according to the Washington Blade

“We have a temporary tenant in the White House,” Griffin said. “But he’s temporary, and our job is ultimately to evict that tenant down the street.” 

Dustin Lance Black, writer of the ABC mini-series “When We Rise,” also spoke, stating that the reason the election went to Trump was due to a lack of solidarity with other communities. 

“We’ve lost our connection to our brothers and sisters,” Black said. “It’s because we’ve become myopic, we’ve become so focused on our successes, on celebrating our success, and fighting for ourselves, and we were winning and that can be intoxication, but it divided us and we were conquered.” 

He continued, “Make no mistake, we were conquered because of our divisions.” 

Black went on to say that despite losing the election, the history of the LGBT movement — and rights movements in general — have shown the ability to rise up for change after defeats. 

“History can be a guide and history can be an inspiration, but it’s up to you to take those lessons and move forward,” Black said. 

The common theme from all of the speakers was that change is possible, and as long as LGBT people and their allies are willing to work hard to extend rights, protections and acceptance that they will be able to bring about a more progressive America. 

Hassan said the founders of the United States “had confidence that every generation of Americans would do the work to tell their stories, to demand their position for who they are, their intrinsic value.” 

Hassan continued to say that maintaining the “road to inclusion is not without significant challenges.”


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