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    June 18, 2008

    Lowering standards for both HRCs

    Posted by: Chris

    It's a bit depressing to see Kevin Naff, my former colleague and successor at the Washington Blade, lowering the bar even further for the two HRCs: Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Human Rights Campaign.

    Hillarygayprideparadenewyork2000 Kevin endorsed Hillary back in January -- based not on her gay rights superiority but on her supposed general election prowess -- so I guess it's not surprising that he still had her back as she bowed out last weekend:

    [Clinton] delivered her belated concession speech, promising her full support of Obama. And, contrary to the Obama camp’s claims during the primary campaign that she shies from mentioning gay issues in front of non-gay audiences, Clinton referenced her gay supporters, not once, but twice. 

    “Eighteen million of you from all walks of life — women and men, young and old, Latino and Asian, African-American and Caucasian, rich, poor and middle class, gay and straight — you have stood strong with me,” Clinton said.

    She continued, “We all want an America defined by deep and meaningful equality — from civil rights to labor rights, from women’s rights to gay rights, from ending discrimination to promoting unionization to providing help for the most important job there is: caring for our families.”

    Kevin never explains why exactly we should be impressed that Clinton waited until she was withdrawing from the race to remember her gay and lesbian supporters. Color me less than impressed. If anything, it suggests her conspicuous failure to mention gays in literally thousands of campaign appearances was a calculated ploy not to risk her support among "working, hard-working Americans, white Americans."

    Now that she's out, Hillary pivots and remembers the gays, just as she frequently forgets her maiden name when running for national office and then remembers it when she's not.

    Nancypelosijoesolmonese_2 Kevin's defense of the other HRC is even more curious to me because I know he knows better. Kevin takes a shot at Andrew Sullivan and Michael Petrelis for pointing out that the Human Rights Campaign leadership supported HRC the candidate far more than Barack Obama, now of course the nominee.

    Mostly, Kevin seems put off that aspects of Andrew and Michael's posts had already been reported at various times by the Blade. When he gets down to substance, Kevin points out that some HRC board members also gave money to Obama. A stronger counterpoint, made by HRC Board member and lobbyist David Medina, is that Obama refused donations from registered lobbyists.

    Regardless, Kevin ignores the weight of evidence -- pointed out by Andrew, Michael and your's truly (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here) -- that HRC has had more than its thumb on the scale for Hillary throughout the primary season. Crediting HRC as he does with not out-and-out endorsing Hillary does not a sound rebuttal make. Are we measuring fairness by such low standards these days?

    Finally, it's disappointing to see Kevin dismiss as silly Andrew's point about HRC's obsession with commercializing the movement; selling trinkets of equality -- like its latest, a T-shirt designed by Christian (I'm sorry for my "hot tranny mess" tagline) Siriano -- over and above the actual hard work of passing gay rights legislation.

    Instead, Kevin credits HRC with the House passage of ENDA this session. To the contrary, there is no greater condemnation of HRC's ineptitude and "Dems or bust" "strategy" than the debacle over trans-ENDA and the failure to get either that bill or the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act through both houses of Congress -- despite majority support in both chambers.

    Have we really lowered the bar so far that we thank HRC for so little, so very late? The movement does not need more apologists for either HRC. We need more pressure not less on the organization, the candidate, as well as Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, to once and for all deliver on the long-delayed promise of federal gay rights protections.

    Kevin is usually at the forefront of doing just that; I hope he'll "find his voice" again soon.



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    1. Jack Jett on Jun 18, 2008 2:54:15 PM:

      Perhaps Kevin has already found his voice without your help.

      Many of us are fully capable of making decisions and choices without the advice of you or Mr. Andrew Sullivan.

      Perhaps you and Mr. Sullivan should find another voice that doesn't include day to day bashing of Hillary Clinton. She lost the nomination. Why not get off her ass on the ass of some of your Republican buddies who have screwed our country up almost beyond repair.

    1. adam on Jun 18, 2008 4:17:03 PM:

      Medina's explanation isn't a very good one, as I pointed out on Andy Towle's blog earlier this week. Here's the comment:

      This is a good explanation for the employees registered as lobbyists in 2008 (Joe Solmonese, David Smith, Susanne Salkind, Allison Herwitt, Christina Finch, Brian Moulton, Lara Schwartz, Mike Mings, David Stacy, Andrea Lavario, Dena Wigder Feldman, and Jonathan Monteith--add Antonio Agnone, Robert Kearney, and Courtney McCall from the 2007 records), but other employees gave most of the donations in the story.

      Of the donations in the referenced data, 12 went to Presidential campaigns. Of these 12 donations, two were from a registered lobbyist. Those were both David Smith's contributions of $1000 to Dodd and $2300 to Clinton.

      Of the remaining 10 donations (from people who are and were free to give to any campaign by virtue of not being registered lobbyists), the breakdown is as follows:

      Senator Clinton: $2000
      Senator Dodd: $2000
      Senator Edwards: $750
      Governor Richardson: $500

      Senator Obama still got $0, of course.

      For what it's worth, David Medina hasn't given any reportable donations (more than $200) this cycle. Joe Solmonese has given, but not to any presidential campaigns.

      Here are my thoughts:

      1) Medina's explanation is weak at best and misleading at worst. It's not even a good attempt at redirecting the argument when the data on giving is available at the link above, and the lobbying database is available at ldsearch.house.gov.

      2) It's amazing that HRC would try to deflect the story when this is really not very much money at all. 12 reportable donations to all presidential campaigns from HRC staff isn't very much. $4300 is just a drop in the bucket as well. But HRC is now making this another kerfuffle it doesn't need.

      3) I don't think "HRC Leadership" really applies to all of the people who donated, some who work in development or field operations. So that's an overblown charge, but I'm still amazed it rose to the need for an official statement from an HRC board member.

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