Thursday, April 10, 2008

Specific discussion of siting policy

Currently there are two siting policies on the table. Which one should be adopted? Or are there other alternatives that would be better?

APSA Proposal

Responding to Restrictive Legislation. Restrictive state legislation creates a presumption of a relatively unwelcoming climate for same-sex partners attending APSA meetings, though the wide variety of local circumstances does not guarantee this will be the case in each locality in those states. Consequently, it is proposed that APSA adopt a special multi-stage policy in response to this issue.

(1) In locating its meetings, APSA would presume that a city in a state whose legislation restricts local jurisdiction’s rights to recognize same-sex partnerships is an unwelcoming environment for our members. APSA would notify the CVB’s and conference hotels in cities that otherwise meet our annual meeting criteria in these states of our position that their state legal environment does not appear to create a welcoming environment for our members. We will assure these localities that if the state restrictions change, APSA would welcome proposals to site our meetings there.

(2) APSA also recognizes that on a case by case basis there may be cities within these states that warrant an exception to our presumptive policy, because of demonstrated positive local practices or other Association goals. Examples of evidence of positive local practice could one or more items such as the following:

a) adoption of anti-discrimination legislation for its employees;

b) presence of equal opportunity legislation;

c) opinions of and invitations to APSA of local civil rights and LGBT advocacy organizations;

d) recognition of medical power of attorney from city and local hospitals;

e) experience of other associations or groups meeting in this locality; or

f) other evidence of the local climate in respecting same-sex relationships.

Additionally, APSA may consider other information in a decision to accept the locality as a meeting site. Examples of such other information might include regional accessibility, advice and invitations from local political science departments, or contractual responsibilities.

(3) An exception to the restrictive state policy would be handled in the following way:

a) a proposal to meet in a city in one of the restrictive states would be coordinated by the Annual Meeting Committee on the instruction of the Administrative Committee. The Annual Meeting Committee would consult widely and work with APSA staff on relevant information gathering;

b) the annual meeting review committee recommendation and background information would be given tentative review by the APSA Council who could either reject the site or seek member comment;

c) if sent forward, the proposal would be circulated for member comment for a period of at least one month; and

d) the Council would make a final decision about the site.

Policy in Non-restrictive States. In the remaining, non-restrictive, states, while not presuming there is an unwelcoming climate regarding this issue, APSA would still follow a practice of reviewing each site in light of the city’s anti-discrimination record, as our hotel contract language calls for.

APSA would also review the legislative record of states annually to see whether revisions are needed to the list of restrictive states, and would publicly state its position on the difficulty of holding its meeting in states with such restrictions.

Brown and Hirsch Bright Line Policy

The APSA will not hold conferences in any state which, by law, severely restricts the recognition of domestic relationships legally recognized in other jurisdictions.*

*Our intent is to prevent the Association from meeting in those states (19) which fall into the category of "most dangerous," as classified by Lambda Legal Defense.


Anonymous said...

In general this is a good idea but should we not include ERA, and anti-immigrant legislation at the state and local level?

Anonymous said...

What kinds of policies make people feel at risk? Like the kind of risk that would make you not want to go to a meeting?

Mediocre Intersectionality Scholar said...

[Posting from Don Rosenthal]

To: President Dianne Pinderhughes

Executive Director Michael Brintnall

Members of the APSA Executive Council

From: Don Rosenthal, Chair, LGBT

Status Committee

Date: March 31, 2008

Subject: Proposed Set of Action Items

For Council Consideration

I thought it would be useful in advance of the Executive Council meeting on Saturday for me to lay out the positions of the Status Committee on the major siting issues in summary form:


Since 2005, the Committee has favored adopting a state-level formula that takes the passage of especially onerous state constitutional amendments opposed to recognition of same-sex relationships into account in making siting decisions. That is the formula proposed by Executive Director Michael Brintnall in his recent siting policy proposal.


While this section may have been well-intentioned as a way of responding to the concerns of those who seek to go to New Orleans in 2012, it is an administrative nightmare and potentially destructive of the general formula. It also is a poor guide in moving past New Orleans in making siting decisions. If, as many surmise, it is the purpose of this section to find a way to go to New Orleans (the critical issue that is not stated explicitly in the policy proposal), then that recommendation should be presented squarely on its own terms. Instead, a convoluted set of “exceptions” are proposed that are difficult to specify and likely even more difficult to implement for potential sites.


Members of the LGBT Status Committee and the LGBT Caucus recognize the legitimate concerns of members who feel an obligation to help the predominantly lower-income African-American population of New Orleans whose lives have been shattered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. We feel, however, that a decision to meet in New Orleans would do little directly to help these people, essentially benefiting only those corporations with whom the Association normally does business elsewhere in the country in the course of holding meetings. If the economic benefits of meeting in the city are really to reach those who have been most affected by the hurricane and the inadequate response to the hurricane’s destruction, other alternatives might be considered like moving the meeting to a more suitable site and having a major portion of the normal income in APSA fees from the meetings go into supporting programs for helping the people of New Orleans who have been most affected. Would a moratorium on an APSA meeting in 2012 really be destructive of the discipline and of the professional way of life that some suggest?

At the same time, we feel strongly that the potential treatment of LGBT visitors to New Orleans as second-class citizens (as they would be if they were invited to attend a meeting there) would be an egregious step by the Association. Many leading LGBT figures in the discipline – people who have been active participants in the life of the Association like Martha Ackelsberg, Joan Tronto, Julie Novkov and Ken Sherrill – have already indicated their intention not to attend a meeting scheduled for New Orleans under present circumstances. Up to this point, the Committee has carefully weighed the pros and cons of supporting a call for boycott of the kind advocated by Dan Pinello. We have not yet taken a formal stand on that proposal, partly because we recognize that, whatever we do formally, this is a matter of personal conscience for many LGBT members of the Association and that such a boycott might happen whether we endorse it or not. Indeed, you should be aware that the recent statement from Julie Novkov, the head of the new Sexuality and Politics Section opposing going to New Orleans reflects a growing move toward supporting a boycott of New Orleans.


Whether intentionally or unintentionally, the decision-making process in APSA with regard to the siting issue has proceeded sluggishly for the better part of the current academic year. Indeed, the process such as it has been has been opaque rather than clear even to interested participants in that process, let alone uninterested members in the Association. That is actually an improvement over the previous two years when members of our Committee felt that our requests for changes in organizational policy and concerns with addressing the New Orleans case head-on were simply being ignored or shunted off by the Council to a committee. Was it predicable that that Committee would not feel it was in a position to address the issues involved? As painful as it is to admit, we must take some responsibility for not pressing even harder for a defined process and schedule months ago that have led to a satisfactory decision by this time. It is now time for APSA leadership to move away from indecision and for the Council to take actions that set out a course over the next few months that open a conversation about what different groups and individuals within the Association really feel about going to New Orleans.

While we have engaged in the debate largely within our own constituency and reported our understanding of those views to President Pinderhughes and Executive Director Brintnall, we still do not have a clear understanding of all the concerns those supportive of going to New Orleans in 2012 may have. The APSA communication system has been a poor resource system in promoting that conversation. Indeed, as we have noted elsewhere, we have not been told everything we need to know about the views some of the members who may have sent letters to APSA leadership which either the writers or APSA leadership did not share with us, perhaps out a concern for our sensititivities (although we have reason to believe that some of those communications were supportive of our positions).

That leads me to propose four steps that we feel should be taken immediately:

1) Delay a decision on New Orleans at least until the Council meeting in Boston.

2) In the interim, open opportunities for a conversation within the Association by making available to us the media resources of the Association, particularly the monthly newsletter and/or the next issue of PS in order to circulate our views throughout the discipline. Of course, we would anticipate and welcome other views on the issues being represented in the same forums. If we do not so something like this, our differences may continue to fester within the Association in years to come. In the near term, the Status Committee and the Caucus and individual members are likely to continue to raise the issues first identified in 2005. They are too important to us as members of the Association to do otherwise. Indeed, it would mean colluding in the homophobic policies of states like Louisiana by supporting unjust regimes.

3) The Council should go on public record in recognition of the serious issues that are at stake here. That statement should be circulated widely in the public media particularly in New Orleans as we struggle with the issues. Personally, I think these matters have been kept within the APSA “family” too long and need a wider airing. In that respect, I think this is also an opportunity to educate both the general public and other professional associations as they deal with the same issues. And isn’t that something that APSA as an organization made up mainly of professional educators should be proud to do?

4) The Association should begin negotiations with cities interested in being selected as sites post-2012 based on the new general formula.

Mediocre Intersectionality Scholar said...

Posting from Don Rosenthal:

To: President Dianne Pinderhughes
Executive Director Michael Brintnall
Members of the APSA Executive Council
From: The Committee on the Status of Lesbians,
Gays, Bisexuals and the Transgendered (LGBT)
in the Profession
Members: Jay Barth, Hendrix College
Cynthia Burack, Ohio State University
Valerie Lehr, St. Lawrence University
Donald Rosenthal, Emeritus, State
University of New York at Buffalo
Angelia Wilson. University of Manchester
Subject: Statement on APSA’s Siting Policy
and the New Orleans Decision
Date: May 5, 2008

The LGBT Status Committee wishes to go on record with the following statement:

The LGBT Status Committee calls upon the American Political Science Association to support the principle that the Association not hold conferences in any state that, by law, acts to severely restrict the human rights of any group of its members. Currently, eighteen states have enacted broad anti-gay constitutional amendments that seek to void legal recognition of domestic partnerships recognized in other jurisdictions. Such amendments put human rights in jeopardy.

We recognize that there are contending interests and aspirations at stake in the proposed siting of New Orleans in 2012. Should the APSA Executive Council proceed to support holding the 2012 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, we call upon the Council to make the following commitments:

1) to research and provide information to all members on queer-friendly hospitals and health-care emergency services, insurance agents and attorneys familiar with protecting the rights of the LGBT citizens of New Orleans;
2) to communicate to local and state officials the non-discrimination policies of the American Political Science Association and the Association’s expectations of the proper treatment of LGBT members and their families who attend the meeting;
3) to provide venues for promoting communication among members about the human rights implications of the state of Louisiana’s relationship policies; such vehicles should include PS and the monthly e-Newsletter distributed by the Association;
4) to commit other organizational resources to providing opportunities for discussing the siting policies of the Association and the New Orleans decision within the Association at future Annual Meetings leading up to and including the 2012 meeting; these would include making available panels or forums to discuss the issues;
5) to insure that the Sexuality and Politics Section’s panel allocation for the 2013 Annual Meeting will not be based on attendance at Section panels in 2012;
6) to accommodate the Sexuality and Politics Section by extending the period for assessing the number of members of the Section by at least one year.

Paisley Currah said...


As you prepare your feedback for APSA on the siting issue (instructions below), I would like to suggest that people use precise language in relation to LGBT issues. In traveling to APSA conferences, while many of the issues lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender caucus member face are the same--discrimination, harassment, violence--the legal landscape affecting gender identity/expression can be very different. For example, many states have sexual orientation non-discrimination laws; most of those statutes do not include gender identity. In addition, while bans on same-sex marriage, recognition of civil partnerships, etc., can mean that partners have no visition rights in hospitals, for trans people--whether or not they are in a same-sex relationship--the health care issue can also involve discrimination, harassment and outright denial of urgent medical treatment. The lack of a statutory or constitutional same-sex marriage/civil partnership ban would not alleviate this risk for trans people.

Honestly, at this moment in time, I am thinking it would probably be a mistake to add trans issues into the APSA siting issue. But those of us who are trans identified and our allies look forward to educating caucus members and APSA leadership about the particular issues that trans people in the profession face. Sending comments to APSA that conflate sexual orientation and gender identity/expression or that imply that sexual orientation laws protect trans people from discrimination will make our future education work all the more challenging.


Paisley Currah

Anonymous said...

A different view

Anonymous said...

Eerily quiet over here following yesterday's decision...

Anonymous said...

Good decision. I look forward to going to New Orleans in 2012! And if some political scientists decide to boycott the meeting, it will make it that easier to book a room at one of the conference hotels.

Anonymous said...

I can now only assume that plans to boycott APSA 2012 in New Orleans have been put on hold while everyone gears up to start protesting APSA 2011 in San Francisco, given the California Supreme Court's ruling today that upholds Proposition 8...

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