I asked permission of Melanie Nathan to crosspost her LezGetReal piece from November 17th, entitled EXCLUSIVE: What GetEQUAL’s Robin McGehee Told the White House Today. Melanie said yes, and the article is below this header.

For transgender people, and those who care about transgender people’s civil rights, there is an important message to note from the piece in these two paragraphs from Melanie’s piece (emphasis added):

[GetEQUAL Executive Director Robin] McGehee said although she was there about DADT- she could not allow the opportunity to be exclusive to that as the only LGBT issue; and so she pulled out a picture of her two children and introduced them to the group. She said that Although she realized DOMA may not be repealed at this time, she wanted the President to revert to his old pre- Presidential campaign position on marriage equality where he did support same sex marriage. “Everyday that our families live without dignity, the President should think of going back to his original stand and he must support marriage equality- as person of faith he should think of our dignity. Remember he came out and said that his religious beliefs precluded him from endorsing same-sex marriage for gays- well, as a person of faith the President ought to reflect on his denying our families and community the right to live with dignity.

Additionally she asked that the White House stop all future Federal Contracts that do not include protections for Transgender people; and she informed him it was her belief that if in fact this happened it would encourage more corporations who wanted to Contracts to do the same.

I was there in the room when GetEQUAL’s short list of example actions of things that could be accomplished only with President prerogative, without any need of any Congressional action to accomplish. I didn’t bring up any transgender specific issue in that room — someone else made that suggestion that businesses that want to contract with the U.S. Government be required to have equal opportunity policies that included protections based on gender identity. I chimed in and agreed, but my intra-community LGBT community allies in that room were acting as the transgender community allies they are without me prompting them to do so. Fierce advocacy for T-issues by people associated with GetEQUAL is the main reason why I agreed to be on GetEQUAL’s Provisional Board, as well as participate in GetEQUAL actions. I would not work with GetEQUAL if I didn’t think those associated with GetEQUAL considered T specific issues as equal to LGB specific issues.

I asked Robin — that is, Robin McGehee — to expand for trans people and allies why she, on behalf of GetEQUAL, made that transgender specific request to the White House in her meeting with staffer Brian Bond:

It wasn’t even a question when we got inside yesterday’s meeting that we were going to use that opportunity to strongly advocate that the President use his bully pulpit to do everything he can to lobby for passage of a fully-inclusive ENDA.

And, given the make-up of Congress next year, if legislative passage of a fully-inclusive ENDA is not possible, then the President should use his full executive authority to end federal contracts and funding to entities without fully-inclusive discrimination policies, or any other measures he can execute outside of Congress. As far as I’m concerned this isn’t a political issue as much as it is a moral imperative, and it’s vital that the President show leadership on this issue. The minute the President shows leadership, I firmly believe that others will follow.

~~Autumn~~


Image: Robin McGehee being arrested in GetEQUAL's Don't Ask, Don't Tell action (November 15, 2010)11-17-2010 – Today Robin McGehee did something most unusual for a school mom turned activist.  A lesbian mom and  executive Director of an LGBT organization GetEqual Robin took the words of LGBT grassroots into the White House.

From, yesterday chained to the fence of the White House, to being dragged off, feet scraping ground, by two burly arresting  police officers , to  a meeting inside the White House with Brian Bond and a Member of the President’s Domestic Policy Council and a White House legal Counsel on LGBT issues.

Robin called me moments after the meeting, her voice breaking with emotion as she walked down the Pennsylvania Blvd, cell phone in hand, another moment of true grass roots activism.

She told me, “when the White House found out that the bloggers had been informed and broken the news of our meeting they were angry. But I told them that I was not willing to do any back room deals – but that I wanted to be transparent. That I wanted my LGBT community to see and hear everything that happens.  It is their equality at stake and they deserve that. She said she would rather leave than not be transparent.”

Mr. Bond told Robin McGehee, who points out that she was there as an activist, a mother, a lesbian and representing GetEQUAL, that he would then be unable to speak because he did not want what he said “used against them” but that he would listen. She told, he listened and he made notes.

McGehee told him that she would like to hear from the White House where LGBT equality legislation stood, specifically that she wanted to hear about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

She asked for an Executive Order by years end.  She asked why the White House was not going ahead with an executive order to stop discharges; she said the LGBT community was insisting on it at the very least; Why is DADT different from any other legislation? Why is the President not pushing and persuading Senator Snowe and Collins, the fence sitters? Why is the President not spending some political capital here for DADT?

She told Bond that not one single member of the Military should be discharged and that the President ought to be reflecting that by his actions.

Mr.  Bond told Robin that they  are working as hard as they can; saying ” we want to see that happen” – Robin pushed further and said there is a difference between wanting to make it happen and making it happen. It must happen.

McGehee said although she was there about DADT- she could not allow the opportunity to be exclusive to that as the only LGBT issue; and so she pulled out a picture of her two children and introduced them to the group.  She said that Although she realized DOMA may not be repealed at this time, she wanted the President to revert to his old pre- Presidential campaign position on marriage equality where he did support same sex marriage.  ”Everyday  that our families live without dignity, the President should think of going back to his original stand  and he must support marriage equality- as person of faith he  should think of our dignity.  Remember he came out and said that his religious beliefs precluded him from endorsing same-sex marriage for gays- well,  as a person of faith the President ought to reflect on his denying our families and community the right to live with dignity.

Additionally she asked that the White House stop all future Federal Contracts that do not include protections for Transgender people; and she informed him it was her belief that if in fact this happened it would encourage more corporations who wanted to Contracts to do the same.

We also asked for the LGBT community to have a cabinet position.

Two weeks ago I had a meeting with Robin McGehee and Kathy Drasky from OUT4Immigration at a fabulous San Francisco Sushi Restaurant – thank you BLOWFISH.

It was there, while talking about the Uniting American  Families Act and my hope it would be included with the DREAM Act in the lame duck session. I also showed Robin my Binational Visa and Pledge campaign. I spoke to Robin about the binational same sex community ‘s dissatisfaction and desperation.  That we were fed up with being the unnoticed of all gay issues, yet our UAFA- having the highest amount of co-sponsorship of all LGBT equality bills, in Congress.  We also discussed my views and writings about UAFA being stuck in Immigration reform.

SO Robin did not let us down and she spoke up “I told Mr. Bond that we wanted to see passage of the Uniting American families Act. That not one more person who has an American partner should be deported, separated or living in exile.  I told him, Mel about your binational Visa as a stop gap measure, and asked the President to get it done – and he wrote it down. I stressed he must stop the deportations of gay and lesbian spouses and partners. If we do not get UAFA this lame duck session  then the President must ensure no more deportations and getting our permanent partners Visas to come into the Country.

Robin McGehee did the Lgbt movement a great deed today.  The White House may well have heard the voices  of everyday gays and lesbians.  I believe we will see action and if we do not there will be more fences, more chains, and more noise.  Robin is inviting transparency as we move towards our basic civil rights, in the form of a real movement that is birthing as we speak. The movement that demands full equality.

In the meantime – call your Senators and ask what they are doing to broker the REPEAL of DADT in this Session and while you are at it, mention UAFA being included with DREAM ACT in this lame duck session.

~Melanie Nathan