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    November 13, 2008

    This finger-wag brought to you by HRC

    Posted by: Chris


    MLK and Solmonese -- For Whom Does the Finger Wag?

    Unbelievable. Just when I think "the nation's largest LGBT political lobby" can't make itself any more irrelevant to the lives of its supposed constituents, Joe Solmonese et al somehow manage to go the extra mile.

    After failing to lift a finger to help organize days of protest following the passage of Proposition 8 and three other anti-gay ballot measures, the feckless leadership of the Human Rights Campaign finally acted.

    Are you ready? Drumroll, please. Solmonese issued his "weekly message" one day early!

    Normally, I would wait until Friday to write to you, but with all that’s going on right now, I felt it was important to speak to you today.

    Yeah, I was shocked, too!

    But simmer down, folks. It's not like Joe is interested in speaking truth to power, our offering some actual plan to mobilize the protesters' grassroots energy into achievable goals. No, no, no. That would conflict with the Beltway bargain HRC has already struck with the Reid-Pelosi-Frank-Baldwin contingent in Congress to take our ENDA and hate crimes and hush up till 2011.

    So instead it is the protesters themselves -- how dare they act from the bottom up! -- who are treated to a classic P.C. finger-wag in this Very Special Episode of Solmonese Speaks:

    To reverse the outcomes of November 4, we must embrace our passion and anger, and redirect them to tasks that have as yet gone undone. We must take this election as an occasion to look inward.

    Inward? I remember Obama saying that "we are the change we are waiting for," but surely Solmonese isn't blaming gay folk for HRC's "No on 8" hide-the-gays strategy that has failed all 30 times it's been tried before. Oh yes! It seems that minority voters were justified in stripping gays (of all races) of our fundamental rights because we have not sufficiently bankrolled a broader social justice agenda.

    In our California, Arizona and Florida campaigns, we asked diverse communities to hear our stories and respect our rights. But have we heard the concerns of the people we asked to listen to us?

    We assert that equal marriage rights are basic human rights. We must also show that our concern for human rights does not end with marriage. We must make clear alliance with those we seek as coalition partners. As we ask communities of color and religious communities to engage and partner with us, we must demonstrate our commitment to the people and issues they care about.

    Specifically, Solmonese calls on the gay rights movement, already tiny in number and overwhelmed financially and politically, to devote out energy to "forty-seven million uninsured" Americans and "legions of children are denied equal opportunity by failing schools, violence, and racism."

    Putting aside, for the moment, that gays have always contributed time, energy and (especially) money to the political party organized around these other social justice issues, Solmonese's primary goal here is the ole bait and switch.

    HrcnotequalsStop rabble-rousing in the streets on an issue HRC has already agreed to put on the backburner! You're only reminding everyone how badly our smartest focus-group strategists have failed our movement!

    Finally, as the pièce de non-résistance, there is the classic call to action that accompanies the Solmonese missive. He begs us to "join with [him] and thousands of others and pledge to become an 'extremist for love' and fight to overturn these amendments."

    That's you, Joe, a tuxedo-clad "extremist for love" with a quarter-million dollar annual paycheck. And the accompanying "take action" link? You guessed it -- a web form that captures your contact info and email address for the HRC database, consigning you to a lifetime of fund-raising solicitations.

    With "activists" like this, who needs the bigots? I wonder if he'll even show up for a protest.



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    1. Double T on Nov 14, 2008 1:48:38 AM:

      What is it with your hatred of HRC? Are you still pissed that Joe S. “dissed” you at the gym. Please, grow a set.
      Out of all the GLBT groups why is it that HRC is the “End all of Be All”? There’s plenty of blame to go around but you always accuse HRC of having a monopoly on “Gay Blame”.
      You want to blame someone, find the average queer on the street. The problem is not HRC, the problem is the GLBT community. You have the couples who are “too good” to live in the gayborhood, and move to the suburbs. You have the people in these gayborhoods feeling they have nothing in common with the suburbs. Pretty soon, too many people have the “I don’t give a shit” attitude.
      Then they wake up and discover that the Republican Governor, supported by Log Cabin Republicans( they put coin in his pocket) and some zealots have taken their rights away. WOW. Take your rights for granted and they’ll be taken away.
      P.S. If I want to wear a tux to an HRC event, that’s none of your god damn business.

    1. Charlie on Nov 14, 2008 3:02:34 AM:

      Maybe if the HRC worked more on getting people involved and less on selling mountains of logo-emblazoned trinkets, they would get more done. I totally agree with Chris on how out of touch the HRC is, and Joe S. has never dissed me at the gym, or anywhere. Both urban and suburban gays are willing to buy the trinkets as a token of support for our rights, and that's great, but HRC clearly has no idea how to harness the power of thousands of gays angrily protesting every day for over a week. Their response, as Chris points out, is essentially "calm down and get out your checkbook." You know what, if the HRC was more effective, we wouldn't be angry in the first place. It's my opinion that they better evolve or get out of the way.

    1. Tim C on Nov 14, 2008 7:59:56 AM:

      The man's an idiot. He's so blinded by his own agenda he can't even detect the opportunity to appear to be a leader by trying to get out in front of the parade that's already marching. A competent leader-wannabe would embrace what's already developing.

    1. Kris on Nov 14, 2008 10:17:47 AM:

      HRC has failed every LGBT American because of Prop 8 California, the largest LGBT organization did little to defeat Prop 8. I think Joe should resign or HRC should fire him. Prop 8 is just a preview of what we should all expect going forward. Joe will just be Obama's lapdog, and will be ineffective to push any effective legislation to advance LGBT equality in the near future. He's already making excuses of why we need to wait to repeal DADT, and to push through ENDA and Hate Crimes. HRC....WE NEED CHANGE!!!!!

    1. Mark on Nov 14, 2008 10:58:26 AM:

      Protesting is a great start. In addition, everyone who shows up at an event tomorrow should also contact their representatives and HRC; flatly stating that they will provide not more support, money or votes, until action to repeal DADT and DOMA are taken.

    1. GMRinSAN on Nov 14, 2008 2:01:09 PM:


      "...stating that they will provide not more support, money or votes, until action to repeal DADT and DOMA are taken."

      Yes! I did that myself already. Although I'm one of those California "Decline to State" non-party voters, most of my friends are registered Dems. They are all in agreement that we've given enough quid, time for some quo.

    1. GMRinSAN on Nov 14, 2008 2:02:13 PM:


      "...stating that they will provide not more support, money or votes, until action to repeal DADT and DOMA are taken."

      Yes! I did that myself already. Although I'm one of those California "Decline to State" non-party voters, most of my friends are registered Dems. They are all in agreement that we've given enough quid, time for some quo.

    1. GMRinSAN on Nov 14, 2008 2:02:16 PM:


      "...stating that they will provide not more support, money or votes, until action to repeal DADT and DOMA are taken."

      Yes! I did that myself already. Although I'm one of those California "Decline to State" non-party voters, most of my friends are registered Dems. They are all in agreement that we've given enough quid, time for some quo.

    1. Keith on Nov 14, 2008 2:24:08 PM:

      While I disagree with much of what DoubleT said, some of what he said vaguely has merits.

      First, HRC has not done anything. And apparently has no plans to do anything that anyone cares about except for the gay people that are still sending them money to go to their dinners and brunches. (And btw--if you want to go to their brunches and dinners you're right that is done of our "G.D. business". Go right ahead.) But that's fine. If you want to go drop dollar bills in the toilet bowl I will not care about that either as long as it does not affect me. BUT ....HRC is affecting me by setting their own little political agenda. And most gay people do not agree with it. They are not representing us.

      The statement about how it is the average gay person on the street's fault? Whoa whoa donkey. First, in my small city there is NO gayborhood. There are a few concentrations but for the most part we are living amongst the straights. There is a very good argument that gay couples in these suburbs are doing more than the gays concentrated with one another ever thought about doing. When people know gay couples they feel more comfortable voting for our issues.

      But....I contacted a single gay friend in Atlanta this week and told him to be sure and find a protest there and his attitude was "I am single and this really does not affect me." Selfish and self centered. And really not valuing our friendship very much since this is very important to my partner and me. If one gay person anywhere is being attacked then I am being attacked. That's the way I look at the whole thing. I don't care why they are being attacked. Get your kiesters out there and have visibility. As I posted elsewhere, I am not convinced it is going to be productive. But I don't think it will be counter productive either. And hopefully we will be standing together for a brief time. And hopefully somehow it will jump start something much bigger and better than HRC's political agenda.

    1. DavenPA on Nov 14, 2008 4:21:12 PM:

      Gay apathy must be addressed. I admit, I do not live in or near any of the states that Prop 8 ballot measures passed in. But if a similar measure was on the ballot here in PA, I would have joined and helped on a campaign that was more agressive than the "Hide the Gays" stuff that I've read about so much on here, facebook, and other blogs.

      The HRC needs to regroup and restrategize to EXPLOIT the energy of this Activism 4.0 movement....NOT SUPRESS IT.

      Or they need to work on a NATIONAL EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT for the entire country, not city by city or state by state.

    1. Chris on Nov 14, 2008 5:14:52 PM:

      You can still join the protests, Dave! There's one in Pittsburgh tomorrow:
      I'll be at the one here in Memphis... ;)

    1. Double T on Nov 14, 2008 11:10:28 PM:

      HRC is not the KGB. No one is "standing in the way".

      Tim C. "leader-wannabe would embrace what's already developing" great!!! Change is good. You want to ride this horse. I'm sure you're qualified. Or are you afraid of people attacking you while running a large LGBT organization.

      Kris. If Joe resigned he'd probably make more money elsewhere. Why don't you apply for the job?
      Here's the site address

      Mark. Protest is a good start. Question. Would you be willing to go to jail/lose your job. If you knew it would over turn Prop 8, would you sit in a cell for a year( or longer)?

      Keith. Where are you Alabama? You contacted ONE person. And asked that ONE person to stand up for your rights.Get off your ass and do it yourself. You're going to sit home on Sat because driving an hour isn't worth the trouble. Or there aren't any protest near my small, small town.


      Mobile 205 Government St Mobile, AL 36602
      Dothan 126 N Saint Andrews St Dothan, AL 36303
      Huntsville 100 Northside Square Huntsville, AL 35801

      Jackson 400 High Street, Jackson, Mississippi (MS State Capitol Building)
      Hattiesburg Hardy Street / USM main entrance

      Atlanta 1:30pm 214 State Capitol, Atlanta GA 30334 (GA State Capitol Building)
      Atlanta, 5 p.m. Intersection of 10th and Piedmont--5PM on 11/15/08, Candlelight Vigil

      Macon 1:30pm 700 Poplar St @ 1st (Steps of Macon City Hall) Macon Ga 31201
      Athens 1:30 pm At UGA Arch on Broad St. (You're welcome to come as early as 1pm to make signs; materials will be provided.)
      Valdosta 1:30pm Courthouse courtyard

    1. Keith on Nov 15, 2008 11:09:23 AM:

      Double T, bless your heart,thanks for thinking of me. I'd like to know you I'm sure. So you know more about me: First, I live in Florida. Second, I don't know why you thought I "contacted one friend". I contacted an UNATTACHED (I used the word single) friend in Atlanta and encouraged him to get out and participate in this.

      And I am going to be in the state capitol of Florida protesting on Saturday and I am dragging every friend I have that is not pretending to be sick out with me.

      All week long I have been on the internet, posting online in newspapers, craigs lists. making signs, coordinating the march and rally in my small city in Florida.

      B-t-w, interesting article in today's LA Times about the protests via blogs, the internet, IMs, etc. Can this gel into a movement that can overturn Prop 8 it asks. Well it has to. What else do we have?

    1. Double T on Nov 15, 2008 10:07:41 PM:

      Keith, bless your heart for joining a protest.

      What else do we have? Well, some people worry about violence.
      We also have civil disobedience. I asked the question in my last post and I noticed no one answered the question, Would you be willing to go to jail for the cause?

    1. Keith on Nov 16, 2008 12:32:56 AM:

      Double-T-- Just for you.....

      There were 4 or 5 anti-gay protesters today in our city. All but one black man left after they saw our huge crowd. I give him credit because he has been campaigning on street corners here against gay people for the past year.

      His sign:

      "Same Sex Marraige is a sin against God"

    1. Charlie on Nov 16, 2008 1:59:16 AM:

      Double T -

      Will you be wearing your tux to jail, or is that none of our god damn business?

      As long as wealthy gays think they are helping the cause by donating heaps of money to HRC who accomplish nothing with it, when that money could be much more wisely allocated, then yes, I'd say HRC is "in the way." I'm really not sure where your KGB analogy comes from. I'm aware that the HRC is not the KGB, CIA, IRS, ABC, SAG or NWA. Or any other 3-letter acronym. Doesn't mean they do a good job just becuse they have a unique 3-letter acronym.

      Your suggestion that random posters on here should apply for Joe S.'s job because those posters suggested that Joe isn't doing a good job is silly. You know, GW Bush has a hard job too. As they said on Saturday night live, "Presidenting is hard!" Hey, didn't like Bush? Why didn't YOU apply for HIS job?

    1. Double T on Nov 16, 2008 2:23:36 AM:

      Well Charlie,
      yes presidenting is a hard job,but it's an ELECTED position. HRC is a private organization. If you want to change it, apply for a membership.


      And HEll No I'm not going to sit in jail with or without my tux so you can sit at home and roll your eyes.

    1. Wes on Nov 16, 2008 12:52:20 PM:

      Double T, how do you go about influencing HRC in their decision making. My little $200, $300 or even $1000 is pocket change for these Showboat Sams. I can hear the chuckles from a thousand miles away when I write in with my check telling them they need to get rid of this clown and start representing gay people.

      The gay civil rights movement needs an organization that represents a more aggressive push for our rights. And it needed it a year ago.

    1. Charlie on Nov 16, 2008 1:05:05 PM:

      So you're saying you won't fight at that level for this issue until (or whatever I symbolically represent) fight as well?

      Well, that's not a very good attitude, but it's honest.

      But why would I roll my eyes if you were in jail? What kind of person do you think I am? Like "Oh, that boob got arrested fighting for my rights. How silly. Hey, what's on TV?" I would be honored to know anyone who is willing to get arrested for us, whether it's me or you or anyone else, assuming that the arrest occurs for some nonviolent protest and not something like you went on a Mormon-shooting spree. (As appealing as that sounds ... probably not a good idea.)

      I'll only roll my eyes if you're like the protesters staging a sit-in at the intersection of 18th and Castro in SF last night, who protested at zero possible harm to themselves and only harmed the businesses that have supported us. Or if you continue to think it's appropriate to dump money and support into organizations who do nothing for us.

    1. Double T on Nov 17, 2008 1:58:43 AM:

      Wes, If you want change, you have to work for it.
      You have to become a Federal Club member, you have to show up at meetings, you have to speak up.

      And, you have to realize you are but ONE VOICE. You have to realize you wouldn't always get your way.

      But keep that $200 check coming in, without your money the whole thing would stop.

    1. Double T on Nov 17, 2008 2:06:55 AM:

      "Or if you continue to think it's appropriate to dump money ..... who do nothing for us"
      Hahahaha, that's rich, you still pay your taxes don't you?

      Gay marriage will happen, someday. Why not today? because not enough gays want it.

      Ok Charlie I'll bite. What are you DOING about Prop 8?

    1. Charlie on Nov 17, 2008 12:04:22 PM:

      Gay marriage will happen, someday. Why not today? because not enough gays want it.

      I don't think this is exactly true. Even if every gay person in this country "wanted it," we still make up, what, near 5 percent of the population, or less? I'm not sure a voting bloc of 5% is going to force passage of anything. The reason we don't have it now is that we haven't been able to convince enough non-gays that we DESERVE it, and this is where you are right: as long as there are gays who don't want it, who won't come out in support of it, it's going to be more difficult to convince that undecided middle that we're deserving. It certainly doesn't help that our largest groups that are supposed to be leading us refuse to push this issue. Not all gays care about workplace protections but apparently the HRC really, really does.

      So, this thread is not about me, and what I'm doing personally and it's not about you and what you're doing personally. It's about the HRC and how they continue to fail us. And one thing that I'm doing about Prop 8 is trying to convince everyone I know to cut off HRC's fundraising until they promise to take action on this issue. Hopefully some of the money HRC would have gotten will go towards groups that might actually work for change.

    1. Gary F on Nov 17, 2008 2:04:43 PM:

      HRC's failure is a failure of leadership. I stopped giving to them years ago and instead donate to local organizations that actually work with at-risk gay kids, that help resolve "gay books in the library" controversies, that deliver meals and help to home bound people suffering with HIV. I don't expect HRC to do these things. But I DID expect HRC to provide progressive leadership and an unashamed voice on my behalf in the national media and in its dealings with government officials. But they've played suck-up, fawning over the powerful rather than speaking truth to them. It seems like an organization that still has one foot in the closet. Even the name "Human Rights Campaign," and the generic "equal sign" logo, smell of internalized shame. You can love or hate someone like Andrew Sullivan (and not being a DC type, I'm not privy to the gossip of which gay leader dissed who at the gym...nor do I care about that crap). I only know Sullivan through his blog. But he's been unapologetic and staunch in knowing he's right about gay marriage. Not "focus-group" right. Not "we think this is what we can achieve at this time with appropriate expectations" right. Right. HRC ceased being relevant in my book 12 years ago. Nice building. Cute stuffed animals. No balls.

    1. Sean on Nov 18, 2008 9:55:05 AM:

      The issue is not just about HRC it is about all GLBT organizations in existence at this time. Minus the work Lambda Legal has done for our community as well as SDLN, our gay lobbying organizations are simply that, lobbyists. There is no community organizer in our community anymore. The national and state organizations are more focused on fund raising and high profile sponsorhips then actual grassroots organization and political progress. Progress is not giving money to a candidate or providing staff to a losing campaign, it is actually winning and bringing gay families - single, coupled, or coupled with children - under the safety of a larger legal umbrella. Now our community on an individual level hasn't been any help either. We have been lazy in our support, more interested in what other letter we should add to GLBT/LGBT (why is it we need to switch the G and the L?) and the latest event in West Hollywood then actual personal sacrifice. Our community is everywhere and in every possible demographic. We live in the city, the suburbs, and the rural areas and do so proudly because that is what we choose to do as AMERICANS. We are not bound to any neighborhood. We are the same with one twist of lime in the cocktail. We are black, African-American, white, Indian, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, Latino, Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Muslim, Aethist, Non-Denominational Christian, men, women, transgender, single, married, engaged, thin, fat, gym members, food lovers, homeowners, renters, investors, Nielson families, poor, middle class, rich, physically challenged, veterans, civilians, college educated, GED, old, and young. It is this diversity that is our strength not the label we create to make sure the acronym reflects us. Our organizations and our own attitudes need to change and if this call to arms of the defeat not just of Prop 8 but in Arizona, Florida, and Arkansas as well doesn't wake us up we will have to wait another 8 years for progress. We must personally demand accountability from people who claim to represent us and bring democracy to our own movement before a civil rights movement degenrates into angry bloggers, shiny lobbyists, and self-declared leaders. It's our movement not the opportunists.

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