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    November 18, 2006

    Someone didn't get the memo

    Posted by: Chris

    Joe_bioWhat does it say when the politicians are actually out in front of gay "activists" on our issues?

    Joe Solmonese, the Democrat-first, gay-second leader of the Human Rights Campaign, is already tamping down expectations on the new Democratic leaders of Congress, promising that issues like repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" needn't be addressed anytime soon. From today's Washington Post:

    Solmonese indicated that leading gay-rights groups will be patient with the new Democratic leadership, not pushing to have their issues be at the very top of the 2007 agenda.

    "What we've got is a new and respectful Congress that's open to our community, to learning the specifics of our issues," he said. "To stress right now — 'This is what we want and this is when we want it' — would be premature."

    Democratic leaders need to "learn the specifics of our issues"? If HRC hasn't spent the last six years in the political wildnerness educating their Democratic friends about basics like workplace protection, hate crimes and gays in the military, then what in good god have they been doing?  Decorating their fancy Washington, D.C., offices and taping self-promotional programs for XM Satellite Radio?

    Gayjoinu Thankfully, Democratic Congressman Martin Meehan apparently didn't get Solmonese's go-slow memo. Meehan, who expects to be named to chair a House Armed Services subcommittee, said yesterday he plans to hold hearings early next year on whether to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and allow gays to serve openly.

    It should embarrass HRC and Solmonese that Democrats are actually out in front on gay rights issues like this. Can anyone imagine a similar scenario from conservative Christian activists? Unfortunately for the gay rights movement, Solmonese is a lifelong Democratic party activist who shows no signs of recognition that he no longer works at an organization that puts party ahead of principle.

    For the first time on HRC's most recent congressional scorecard, members are no longer given any credit for adopting non-discrimination policies. That was an issue on which Republicans tended to do better and eliminating it skewed the scores toward Dems. It also contributes to an even more hostile climate for gays working on the Hill for Republicans. These gay staffers, while caught up in the Mark Foley scandal, often have a strong moderating impact on their members.

    What's more, HRC abandoned its promise to moderates and backed Democratic challengers against two GOP incumbents who were endorsed by Log Cabin. Rep. Deborah Pryce in Ohio managed to fend off her gay-baiting Democratic opponent, but  Rep. Michael Fitzgerald of Bucks County, Pa., lost his seat by less than 2,000 votes. That's two fewer GOP moderates to check the anti-gay conservatives in House leadership.

    Strategic blunders like this may please gay Democratic activists, but without these moderates and gay GOP staffers, the gay rights movement is all the more dependent on the Democrats. That's not a winning strategy for gays, though it's certainly good for Howard Dean. Just which side is Solmonese on?



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