This copy of the document excludes the foot notes, which are all available on the pdf version.
From: Hugh Esco
Subject: GaGP -- Response to complaint by National Lavender Committee to Accreditation Committee
Date: Sat, 23 Jan 2021 00:06:59 -0500
Madame and Mister Co-Chairs,
members of the Accreditation Committee:
This letter is written in response to a complaint1 filed with the Accreditation Committee on the eve of Christmas, just past, by the National Lavender Caucus (NLC).
In their complaint (referred to in this document as the NLC complaint or the complaint), the complainant seeks action by the Accreditation Committee with the intended result of 'suspending' the Georgia Green Party, placing our state party on 'inactive status'; or alternately to take action to 'disaccredit' our state party, by asking the Green National Committee to sever its relationship with the Georgia party.
The Georgia Green Party has been and remains a member in good standing with the Green Party of the United States since 1999. The Georgia party organized in 1995, filing its governing documents with the Georgia Secretary of State in 1996. The Atlanta Greens, founded in 1989 had served as the base of our state party. It had been an active member of this national party's predecessor organization, the Greens / Green Party (usa) since 1991.
The NLC complaint fails to state an actionable claim that either proposed outcome is justified. We urge that this committee (1) reject this complaint, (2) exercise patience that the party’s process for the democratic revision to its platform will function to resolve disputes among accredited members over platform language and (3) allow our state and national parties to return to the important work of building capacity for the election cycle which began as the polls closed November 3rd, 2020.
I. no basis to declare the Georgia Green Party as being on inactive status
The Rules and Procedures anticipate no circumstances under which a state party shall be 'suspended' and only a narrowly tailored basis to place an accredited member on 'inactive status'. This process is outlined in Article I., related to 'Accreditation', Section IV, related to the 'Accreditation Process', Paragraph 3., which requires that such a determination be based on a state party's failure "to cast votes for a period of six months", or to send "delegates to two consecutive meetings of the National Committee". The complaint offers no evidence that the Georgia Party has met either criteria.
At the time the NLC Complaint was filed, Georgia Delegates had most recently voted on GNC #1027, to "Sustain Decision to Add Proposal 1026 to the Voting Queue", with voting concluding on October 13th, 2020; two months and ten days prior to the filing of the NLC complaint. Georgia Delegates have since the filing of the complaint cast votes on GNC #130, related to the "De-Accreditation of Green Party of Alaska", which vote concluded on January 10th, 2021.
The Georgia Green Party named a Delegation to the 2020 Quadrennial Presidential Nominating Convention, which delegation 'attended' (along with a handful of Georgia observers) and participated fully in the PNC's virtual deliberations.
As neither criteria anticipated by the "Rules and Procedures" of the party for declaring an accredited state party as being on 'inactive status' have been met, and as the NLC complaint has made no showing
that these criteria have been met, they have no standing to seek such an outcome.
II. No basis for the 'disaccreditation' of the Georgia Green Party
With respect to the second outcome sought by the NLC complaint, a request to 'disaccredit' the Georgia Green Party, consideration of a 'grievance lodged against an accredited state' is governed by the Rules and Procedures of the national party, Article I., related to 'Accreditation', Section V., related to 'Procedures for Revocation of Accreditation', Paragraph 2., and by the Accreditation Committee
Policies and Procedures, item 10., related to the 'Complaint Process', particularly a paragraph labeled B., which addresses a 'complaint or grievance against another accredited state party'.
Section A., of that same article of the Committee 'Rules and Procedures' states that "Only those complaints that potentially constitute a state party’s or caucus’ violations of the terms of accreditation with GPUS will be entertained for action by the AC;"
The NLC makes three assertions that the Georgia Green Party has violated "the terms of accreditation". Here we lay out those three assertions, and follow that with our answer to these spurious charges:
The NLC asserts, without evidence:
A. "that Georgia Green Party is in violation of Accreditation Committee Criteria for State Party Membership in the Green Party of the United States as stated in *Section 1.II.1* – Acceptance of the four pillars of the Green Party, specifically, social justice."
B. "They are in violation of *Section 1.II.3*, by enacting these changes to their platform, GAGP demonstrates they are not open to and reflective of, a statewide membership."
C. "GAGP is in violation of *Section 1.II.10* having failed to make good faith efforts to empower individuals and groups from oppressed communities."
The balance of their complaint outlines their assertion that the "Georgia Green Party is in violation of several sections of our Platform".
III. In response we offer the following:
A. the NLC complaint relies on accusations without evidence
The NLC complaint fails to make the case that any of their asserted violations of the accreditation criteria are true. They fail to cite any action, quote any statements or positions taken by the Georgia Green Party which would support such an assertion. They make accusations, but fail to present credible evidence.
Their quoting the text of certain Platform amendments adopted by the Georgia party's Bonaire Convention last February fails to demonstrate how those proposed platform changes violate the values of the party, or its commitment to build a state-wide membership, or to empower oppressed communities.
Much of the complaint relies on accusations of transphobia. Recent revisions to the Merriam-Webster dictionary define the term to mean an “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against transgender people”.
Judging from the context in which the term seems to be used in this party, it usually seems to boil down to a knee-jerk reaction directed at those who raise uncomfortable questions left unanswered by gender ideology. The trans-lobby’s talking points are no substitute for critical thinking; or at least they ought not to be accepted as such within our ranks.
We note that not a single accusation of transphobia is backed up with any evidence of fear, aversion or discrimination. Apparently these accusations are expected to self-evidently prove themselves.
The complaint libels not only the Georgia party, but also the Women’s Human Rights Campaign, accusing this international organization and its leadership of transphobia, again failing to cite the first shred of evidence to support their accusation.
While we absolutely take exception to bullies of all descriptions, the Georgia party harbors no irrational fears or aversions to people, regardless of how they self-identify. Our interest in defending the sex-based rights of women to set and enforce their own boundaries has nothing to do with anyone’s ‘internal sense’ of themselves, and everything to do with respecting women’s legitimate concerns for male-pattern violence.
The assertion by the NLC that the proper use of English pronouns by members of our state party (which accurately reflect these individuals perceptions of the world) constitutes violence, is indicative of the failure of this complaint to engage in honest discourse. There are those among our membership who take no issue with the use of preferred pronouns. There are some within our ranks who choose to use preferred pronouns in an effort to ‘be nice’ and avoid avoidable battles over what they consider trivial concerns, so they can focus on more substantive matters. Others in our ranks take issue with the compelled speech demanded by what they would characterize as the ‘pronoun police’. Some in our ranks believe that ceding this point is actually dangerous2 to girls and women. None of these people likely believe that changing one’s pronouns changes a man into a woman. To attribute any of these positions to our entire state party denies the diversity of opinion within our ranks on this question, and seeks to paint our entire state party with the perfectly legitimate position taken by some of our members on the pronoun question.
The NLC complaint is dismissive of our legitimate concerns for the well documented male-pattern (actual physical) violence which women suffer. It dismisses women’s legitimate right to create and defend boundaries between themselves and men. Women are not concerned with trans-identified people in private women’s space, but with the presence of men, no matter how they self-identify, being in those spaces.
All the while the NLC complaint points to biological men who identify as women and who insist we validate their claims that they are women and characterize their hurt feelings as somehow being evidence of violence. This is an example of classic DARVO tactics3 employed by abusive men, particularly sex offenders, for as long as women have sought to hold men accountable for men’s behavior.
As a feminist party it is important that we see this pattern of denial as evidence of the abuse it is. Surely a feminist political party should not prioritize the hurt feelings of biological men who identify as women over the legitimate concerns for personal safety of actual women.
B. violation of the Platform is not an actionable offense
There exists no actionable offense for being in violation of the Platform.
If such a provision existed, surely we would have enforced it against the party’s 2020 nominees for the federal executive who in violation of our platform's support for the Nordic Model both made embarrassing public statements advocating that we decriminalize pimps and johns, promoting such regressive policies as being somehow empowering to the women exploited by prostitution.
These statements were extremely damaging to our state party’s efforts to bring new feminists into the party.
Further, they were made in contradiction to Mr. Hawkins assurance to the Presidential Campaign Support Committee that “Yes, I will advocate for the platform”, in its questionnaire where he declined to acknowledge, as asked, whether “there are any significant platform positions which you cannot support, please state why”.
C. NLC case relies on a narrow and controversial interpretation
Their case, such as it exists, relies on a difference of opinion about a small handful of provisions in the Platform of the Green Party of the United States, again, not an actionable violation. The bulk of the complaint catalogues a narrow and controversial interpretation of a small number of specific provisions within the platform. This narrow interpretation directly contradicts other provisions of the platform, which affirm the rights of women, which call for U.S. Senate ratification of the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, which support our nation’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. (For any unfamiliar with the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights, deemed as transphobic by the NLC complaint, that Declaration is essentially a restatement of existing international law, mostly derived from CEDAW and the CRC). In fact, if we are to read our own platform as internally consistent, we cannot do so by accepting these narrow interpretations advanced by the NLC of the provisions they cite.
Does anyone really believe that the National Committee would have adopted language stating that "The Green Party affirms the right of all persons to self-determination with regard to gender identity and sex," if they understood that one person's self-identity was intended to compel another person's thoughts and speech? Would they have adopted such language if they had given half a moment’s thought to the idea that one's sex (distinct from one’s gender identity) can be self-determined, when biological science tells us clearly that our sex is determined at conception?
Are we really prepared to say to the public that we believe in climate science but reject biological science? The Georgia Party is not interested in trying to make such a case at the cost of our credibility.
D. implication of NLC’s interpretation requires compelled thought and compelled speech,
inconsistent with Green values, scientific method and democratic engagement
The Lavender Caucus may well believe that one person's 'internal sense' of themselves (to draw on the circular definition published in a recent revision to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary), should be able to compel the thoughts and speech of others. But such authoritarian notions are highly inconsistent with Green values, with the scientific method and with the democratic process.
U.S. jurisprudence on First Amendment issues has at least since the Supreme Court’s opinion4 in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), and in many cases since, been clear “that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein”. To reach for an Orwellian reference, no one can be compelled to say that 2 + 2 = 5, when they know that to be false.
E. national party platform is a living document
The Platform itself begins with 'A Call to Action'5, including a statement that the "Green Platform is an evolving document, a living work-in-progress".
In fact, in recognition of this, the Rules and Procedures of the national party lays out in Article XII., related to a 'Platform Amendment Process and Timeline'6 a biennial process for the consideration by the National Committee of revisions to the national party platform.
F. NLC interpretation is inconsistent with the Green Party’s key values
The Green Party of the United States holds forth ten key values around which we organize. It is a criteria for membership in the Georgia party that we 'affirm' these values, as articulated in the bylaws of the state party, 'as a basis for organizing'. Included among each of these articulations of green values are grassroots democracy, decentralization, feminism and a respect for diversity.
We assert that grassroots democracy and decentralization require that the platform of the Georgia Green Party and the delegates whom we name to the Green National Convention and those whom we name to the Quadrennial Presidential Nominating Convention are accountable to the members of the Georgia party, and not to the National Lavender Caucus.
We believe that democracy and a respect for diversity requires a respect for a variety of perspectives which Greens bring to their work to build independent political power, consistent with the key values of the party.
We hold that grassroots democracy and our agreement that the Platform of the national party be 'an evolving document, a living work-in-progress', it is necessary that state parties retain the power to disagree with its current articulation and to bring to the national party's platform revision process proposals to refine and perfect the national platform in future platform revision cycles; even to substantively alter aspects that we have concluded are incorrect, or prone to misinterpretation.
We understand trans ideology, as distinct from trans-identified people, both in theory, but particularly as manifested represents a misogynist and homophobic backlash against feminism and the gains made over decades by feminist organizers.
G. the Green Party is a feminist political party
Since the initial filing of our governing documents with the Georgia Secretary of State, three years prior to our first affiliating with the Association of Autonomous State Green Parties in 1999, the bylaws of the Georgia Green Party and our membership materials have announced to the world that we are an organization which values feminism. The platform of the national party also affirms feminism as a key value of our party. In fact, our national platform, in its discussion of what we mean by 'feminism' states: "We call for the replacement of the cultural ethics of domination and control with cooperative ways of interacting that respect differences of opinion and gender."
Yet, the entire complaint to which this letter replies is premised on a deep disrespect for 'differences of opinion' within our party, not to mention within the U.S. society as a whole, the very society within
which we organize.
H. coherent logic is made impossible by imprecise use of language
At the root of this 'difference of opinion' is the unfortunate conflation of key words and concepts, and the imprecise use of those words, in our Platform and governing documents, in our organizational culture and in our attempts to discuss the ideas at the root of the conflict which the National Lavender Caucus has created over the routine and periodic work of the Georgia Green Party to maintain and
improve its state platform.
For those of us whose feminism is grounded in a commitment to ending the sexist oppression of women, we see gender as a tool for the oppression of sex-classes of people. Gender is used to put both women and men into boxes, constraining our choices in the world. Trans ideology seeks to create more boxes and provide individuals choices as to which box they prefer. Feminism seeks to abolish those boxes and allow women and men to live free of those constraints.
I. democracy requires that rules be constructed based on the meaning
ascribed to words by the deliberative bodies adopting such rules
An important premise of legal construction is that words ought to be interpreted based on the meaning afforded them at the time they were used to craft a statute, policy or rule. Ex-post-facto laws7 are explicitly prohibited by the Constitution and are anathema to the principles of substantive due process.
The popular meaning of 'gender' has experienced a significant shift in the last six to eight years. This has been the result largely of corporate funded philanthropy, media propaganda and institutional capture. To construct the past actions of deliberative bodies in light of evolving meanings only recently ascribed to words used in their agreements is profoundly anti-democratic.
J. debate on underlying issue complicated by involvement of monied interests
and the corporate capture of public and private institutions
James Nicholas Pritzker, U.S. Army retired (who now goes by Jennifer), contributed8 a quarter million dollars to Trump's election in 2016. In the 2020 campaign, he contributed $100k to the Lincoln Project, a super-PAC overseeing expenditures opposed to Trump's re-election. His brother Jon, did the same. Forbes reports9 his net-worth at $1.9 billion, as of this date.
The Stryker family fortune was made in the manufacture of medical instruments. The Stryker family controlled Arcus Foundation10 (a charitable foundation focused on issues related to LGBT rights and a Great Ape conservation program) lent its philanthropic support for the Yogyakarta11 meetings; convening the staff of corporate financed non-profit advocates from around the world for a meeting in Indonesia to first adopt, then ten years later revise a statement of Principles. These Yogyakarta Principles have been brandished about in the lobbies of public policy making bodies as if carrying the force of law we attribute to an international treaty, when it is anything but just another white paper published by a corporate financed think tank. Arcus has funded the propagation of a narrative grounded in these so-called Principles, profitable to the Stryker family fiduciary interests but dangerous to children groomed by social media12 to self-diagnose as gender dysphoric. They have leveraged a network of captured institutions in the public and private sectors, in academia, among professional organizations, etc., many of whom are direct beneficiaries of Arcus Foundation philanthropy.
Investigative journalists Sue Donym13 and Jennifer Bilek14 have conducted extensive research to follow-the-money and to understand how it is that a movement which deigns to speak for the ‘most oppressed people ever’ has been able in such a short span of time to capture such wide-spread institutional support. The Pritzker and Stryker families are only part of a group also including other names (from the 1%) like Rothblatt, Gill, Soros and Buffet dubbed the ‘trans-billionaires’ who have leveraged tax-free philanthropy to impose an agenda on public policy making bodies at odds with science15 and under the cover of anti-democratic strategies16, for what appears motivated to serve the interests of private profit, and an aim for which Trump proved to be an impediment17.
Given what Greens understand about the role of private money in public elections, one is left to wonder whether the Biden campaign prioritizing passage of the so-called Equality Act (to throw women's rights back into the Courts) as part of his 100-day agenda, indeed his Executive Order18 on the subject signed the afternoon of the inauguration, constitutes a quid-pro-quo for the Pritzker family largesse. One wonders why our opposition party would so uncritically follow the lead of this monied Republican political operative on a question of public policy.
K. meaning of ‘gender’ has shifted since party rules were formulated
Gender had a different meaning at the time when our national platform first was adopted than it does now. At that time, at least three competing understandings were at play.
Within academic discussions among feminists, 'gender' was used to mean 'sex-role stereotypes', and to describe a tool for the systemic oppression of people based on their membership in one sex-class or another. This is the meaning embraced by gender-abolitionists and feminists around the world, and by the Georgia Green Party in its consideration of our Bonaire Amendments.
A new and at the time far less popular understanding of gender was being advanced by post-modernist queer theory, and would later become the core of the meaning used in the narrative being pushed by Arcus and others among the trans-billionaire funded lobby for gender ideology.
And still the most popular use of the word gender at the time the relevant platform language was adopted, was its use as a 'polite' pseudonym for sex. In popular parlance it was used, without the precision which feminists had attributed to the word for several decades, or the new meaning just then being theorized by the authors of queer studies (which very few had read twenty years ago), as the basis for a personal identity. When our national party's presidential convention adopted our platform in 2000, in its popular use within the culture, the word gender was used to distinguish between the two meanings of the word 'sex', not to be confused with the means for reproduction among sexually dimorphic19 mammals (including humans) or for interpersonal intimacy among our species, but rather to refer to differences between the sexes, between men and women, the latter word being defined in the dictionary as 'adult human females'.
The above few paragraphs provide a small taste of a complex discussion which gender critical and feminist greens believe it is important that we explore.
L. NLC has engaged in anti-democratic bullying behaviors
which have threatened internal democracy within the Green Party
We deplore the bully tactics evidenced by the NLC complaint and by nearly a year now of harassment, pile-ons, name-calling, silencing, de-platforming20 and related abusive tactics of mostly women within the party's ranks who have sought to engage in conversations on these important topics.
Shortly after our Bonaire Convention, the NLC organized a pile-on campaign seeking to bully the officers of the Georgia Green Party to operate outside our own democratic rules, to rescind a decision of the annual convention which had amended its state platform and elected its state committee, resulting in our being named as state party officers, accountable to the will of that convention. The NLC's tactics have escalated to include threats21 of physical violence. The individual responsible for the most egregious of violations of the usual expectations for Green discourse was appointed by the Lavender Caucus to serve as their appointee on the Dispute Resolution Committee. Members of this party's media committee, responsible for the moderation of the party's facebook channel have abused their discretion to silence women and others who have stepped up to defend the position taken by the Georgia Party and to speak to the conditions faced by women. The Media Committee members responsible for moderating that social media group have deleted comments, deleted posts, refused to allow posts by officers, previously nominated candidates and Green National Committee delegates of member state parties. They have banned subscribers with dissenting views from participating in that channel. All the while they gave free reign for the unsubstantiated propaganda of trans ideology, and condoned extreme and unrelenting verbal abuse of feminists who attempted to participate on that channel.
Without ever, even once, picking up the phone for a direct one-on-one conversation, the NLC has spent the preceding year badgering the Georgia state party through third parties to engage in what amounted to 're-education', as if Georgia Greens had not already studied deeply the issues on which we adopted amendments to our Platform. They have lied to the national party community asserting that we have ignored their requests, as if we had not already taken time from a very busy campaign season to respond to their demands with a letter22 proposing an opportunity for dialogue on the issues we raised. They accused us of violating Federal law by reading more into the narrow findings in the Bostock23 Order than the Supreme Court had written. They ignored our offers to engage in dialogue on the issues which divide us and have mocked and silenced every attempt at dialogue we have made.
They have engaged repeatedly in anti-democratic behavior at odds with our expectations for civil debate on the questions on which we differ. They have failed to respond meaningfully to the arguments we have put forth and the questions we have raised. And whenever those questions have cut uncomfortably close to the house of cards on which gender ideology is built, whenever those questions have peak-trans'd24 those who listen quietly, think critically and vote thoughtfully, they have responded by ending and disappearing those discussions.
IV. in closing
For all of these reasons and more, we urge this committee to table and ignore this spurious complaint and to allow our national party's platform process to serve its purpose as the venue for debate on the political divisions over public policy within our party.
Much like our national party provides a process for the biennial review of the national party platform, so too, does the Georgia party provide a mechanism for the review of our state party platform. We have a platform committee open to submissions by members of the Georgia party. Our annual conventions are charged by our bylaws with the power to revise the Platform of the Georgia Green Party. But unlike the bullying demands of the NLC, we expect decorum in our proceedings, an expectation of good will among our members and we refuse to be held hostage, making policy with a gun to our heads.
Our conventions have tended to favor thoughtful policy proposals, grounded in a well-researched, scientific understanding of reality supported by respectful discourse. Local delegates to our conventions tend to look skeptically on policies advanced by advocates captured by monied interests, or meaningless statements more focused on signalling virtue rather than in offering concrete proposals for the revision of public policy. Our members and our candidates are clear that our platform is a tool for organizing, and that the policies which we advance must one day be defended before the voting public by our candidates. Our conventions operate democratically and seek consensus where possible on platform revisions.
Some of our newer members may hail from organizations with a history with democratic centralism. Even if we as Greens had embraced this concept, and we never have, there can be no 'unity of action' prior to 'freedom of discussion'25. Cancel culture is fundamentally anti-democratic and should not be tolerated within the ranks of the Green Party, which has long embraced a commitment to democratic engagement within our ranks among the diverse experiences and perspectives brought to this work by those who share a commitment to the ten key values of our party.
Our rules anticipate that 'inactive status' be used to protect the ability of the Green National Committee to raise a quorum, not as a means to penalize an accredited member state party over political differences with other accredited members of the party about the Platform.
Our rules anticipate that the disaffiliation of a state party or caucus be reserved for violations of the Accreditation Criteria laid out in the Rules and Procedures of the party, not over offenses which are not defined in our rules; again not over political differences with the Platform and its interpretation.
Neither mechanism exists to resolve political differences over the platform with the political purges which have so frequently been utilized by sectarian formations on the political left. Such tactics are anathema to Green values, culture and politics. The proper place for such debate is within our Platform revision process.
We urge that this Accreditation Committee respect these basic concepts of Green democracy and allow these conversations to proceed in their proper place, not here where our rules make clear, that state Green parties 'should experience (this committee) as a welcoming committee and their advocate to the (National Committee)'. We each should prioritize the use of our energy for building up, not tearing down the party we have worked so long and so hard to build.
s/ David Josue, chairman
s/ Kweku Lumumba, chairman
s/ Denice Traina, treasurer
s/ Hugh Esco, secretary