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    April 26, 2007

    "It's all about the math"

    Posted by: Chris

    Hrclogos It don't get more ironical, to paraphrase our commander-in-chief.

    "It's all about the math," says the Human Rights Campaign's Joe Solmonese in today's Washington Post, though he didn't let "In the Loop" columnist Lois Romano know he meant HRC's patently fuzzy kind of arithmetic.

    Taking full advantage of yet another "mainstream media" reporter whose idea of covering the gay rights movement is taking one phone call, Solmonese our savior spins a tale of turning around his organization, and the movement, from silly sidewalk protests to his own version of "strategery":

    It was not so long ago that gay activists were on the defensive, with 22 states considering bans on same-sex marriage and Congress considering a constitutional amendment declaring that marriage must be between a man and a woman.

    But after working hard -- and spending millions -- in last year's elections, activists are looking at 2007 as a victory year. Joe Solmonese says it is no accident.

    When he took over the leadership two years ago of the Human Rights Campaign-- the nation's largest gay rights group -- Solmonese saw a clear opportunity to go on the offensive with the organization's largest-ever electoral effort. "It was time to be tactical and not just stand on the sidewalk" protesting, he said in a recent interview. "We are trying to change the role we play in electoral politics. It's all about the math, and for the first time in a very long time there are people in charge who are committed to moving legislation." …

    For the first time in the group's 27-year history, the HRC spent or raised millions of dollars on state and congressional elections and mobilized many of its 700,000 members to work in the field. …

    "What it all comes down to is that we're beginning to be perceived as politically potent," Solmonese said.

    Let's count the inaccuracies and downright fabrications, shall we?

    1. "'It was time to be tactical and not just stand on the sidewalk" protesting: Can anyone else remember the last time HRC organized a protest, on the sidewalk or anywhere else? My memory drifts back to the Millennium March on Washington, and that was obviously seven years ago. There may have been a megaphone or two in sight during Cheryl Jacques' ill-conceived "George W. Bush, You're Fired!" campaign back in 2004, but to suggest it was Solmonese who took the movement from the sidewalk to the strategy room is ridiculous.
    2. For the first time in the group's 27-year history, the HRC spent or raised millions of dollars on state and congressional elections: Huh?  HRC has claimed every election cycle to have spent or raised millions on state and federal elections. Was HRC lying then or is Solmonese lying now, when he claims the 2006 cycle was the first time?
    3. For the first time in the group's 27-year history, the HRC … mobilized many of its 700,000 members to work in the field: This whopper is a two-fer; "mobilized many"? HRC has never effectively mobilized its "members" for anything other than putting on their tuxedos, writing checks and sending the occasional canned e-mail. It's a great idea to actually mobilize them, but where's the proof?

    Joesolmoneseofc And of course the big whopper is that bald-faced lie about "700,000 members." It's ballsy, if nothing else, for Solmonese to trot out HRC's grossly exaggerated membership claim after so many within the movement have called on him to cut it out.  But Solmonese must be packin' some Bush-sized "cajones" to actually inflate the figure further, from 650,000 to now 700k.

    Those of you "in the loop" already know that HRC counts its members two different ways: To become a member, you must pay an annual $35 membership fee, although in response to scrutiny a $5 alternative is now offered online. But when touting its members, HRC doesn't just count those members of the current, dues-paying variety. It counts every single person who has ever donated $1 or more to the organization, including purchases at the HRC merchandise store.   And once you're counted, you are forever counted, until HRC receives proof that you're dead.

    No one knows how many memebers HRC actual has because Solmonese refuses to answer the question. The closest he's come is to admit that less than half of the 700,000 figure made some sort of donation during the last two years. Read what you will into his ongoing refusal to whittle that number down to those who are current dues-paying members.

    Loisromano Seeing how the Washington Post swallowed all this without question reminds me of how much we need the gay press to keep the movement honest. A simple Google search would have turned up all the recent attention paid to HRC's inflated claims and "strategery" in the gay press and the blogosphere.

    Makes you wonder what else the Post is "out of the loop" about…

    (As before, credit goes to The Malcontent for the clever "less than" (or rewind) HRC logo.)



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    1. Craig Ranapia on Apr 26, 2007 2:52:26 PM:

      Ah, yes, and not for the first time I wonder if Solmonese would have subjected to some basic fact checking if he was, say, one of Focus on the Family's little spin goblins?

      And I cite FoF for a reason - that's another organisation that routinely inflates it's membership, over-sells and under-delivers it's 'influence', flat out lies about it's activities and routinely issues press releases that beg to be quoted for untruthiness.

      Not a fabulous picture, do you think?

    1. K on Apr 27, 2007 9:59:04 AM:

      Okay, Crain, so when's the last time you laid off blasting HRC or anybody else long enough to accomplish anything?

      HRC ain't perfect, but they can usually get fairly good coverage for gay issues in the mainstream press. Can you do that, Crain?

      Oh, and another thing: When's the last time your conservative buddies did anything for gay rights? Huh, Crain?

      Try doing something constructive for a change, Crain. Bash the right, or bash timid political "allies." But stop trying to sow divisiveness within our own groups.

    1. W=WIMP on Apr 27, 2007 11:14:00 AM:

      Bravo for another well done expose'. The HRC is nothing but a bunch of self-congratulating hacks.

      We need more of this type of reporting.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Apr 27, 2007 2:08:56 PM:

      What I love, K, is how gays like you will step up to the plate and attack gays like Chris about how awful and evil they are for going after HRC.

      However, you have nothing to say about HRC's leaders, like Solmonese, Hilary Rosen, and Andrew Tobias, channeling money and endorsements to FMA supporters ( http://mpetrelis.blogspot.com/2007/02/lets-see-if-we-can-follow-bouncing.html ).

      One of these days, K, you and your fellow leftist Democrat gays may grow enough of a spine to confront people like Solmonese, Rosen, and Tobias, who are nothing more than shills and hucksters exploiting the gay community for their own ends.

      Hopefully it's BEFORE the close of the next decade.

    1. N. R. Cissist on Apr 27, 2007 2:59:01 PM:

      You just keep repeating the same old attacks on HRC. How about doing something a little more productive with your life? Form your own gay rights group and do something instead whining about HRC. One Andrew Sullivan is quite enough!

    1. Bradley Smith on Apr 30, 2007 2:28:02 PM:

      i quit giving money to HRC in 2004- I think the organization spends too much money on paying the salaries of people; people who make more than I do and I am sure I work harder than they do.

    1. Jennifer on Jun 5, 2007 4:53:26 PM:

      Hey everybody.. I cant believe what i just read. It is unbelievably outraging. Its aHUGE EMBARRASSMENT for HRC , it turns out thatTim Downing the HRC board director is representing the birth mother in a lawsuit and denying the non biological mother visitation rights. That is a huge slap in the face. He needs to be removed from office there. We do not, and i repeat DO NOT need somebody like that in a high ranking position. Here is a link to the actual article is anybody is interested:


      It is my hope that you will speak out with me by emailing HRC about this.

      [email protected]


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