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Friday, March 16, 2007

How to Get a Politician to Say the Right Thing About the Gays

posted by on March 16 at 13:00 PM

There’s an interesting sub-plot to the recent blogosphere controversy over whether or not gays are immoral and (actually worthy of serious thought) what Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama should say about such things.

You have to be following intra-gay politics very closely to have been up on this, but over the last few weeks there’s been a notable dust-up pitting some prominent gay bloggers (led, it seems, by Andrew Sullivan and Michael Petrelis) against what is probably the country’s best-known gay rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign.

For the overview, see here.

In sum, some gay rights activists and bloggers feel that the Human Rights Campaign has become a bloated, ineffectual organization that inflates its membership numbers, acts as a Democratic party mouthpiece rather than representing the full spectrum of gay political leanings, and vilifies its gay critics.

How does this connect to the Clinton/Obama controversy? Well, part of the argument from HRC’s critics (that is, critics of the Human Rights Campaign, not critics of Hillary Rodham Clinton) is that HRC is so focused on working behind the scenes and playing by the rules of Washington, D.C., that it doesn’t actually get anything done.

In some ways, this is a continuation of a very old debate in the gay community, a debate about tactics. And, really, it’s a debate you could probably find among members of any minority group that is fighting to gain full equality under the law in a culture that has historically been hostile toward the idea of extending such rights. Speaking very broadly here, it’s a debate over whose rules to play by.

Here’s an easy way to see the divide in the gay community. These are the rules the newly-energized ACT-UP played by in response to Gen. Peter Pace’s statement that homosexuality is “immoral”:

ActUPprotest.jpg

And what did HRC do in reponse? The usual: It put out statements and called on its members to write letters, make phone calls, and generally complain through proper channels.

Because, as a rule, HRC does not talk like this guy:

Kramer.jpg

(That’s Larry Kramer, for the non-gay-politics-obsessed.)

And it certainly doesn’t talk like this guy (who this week had to be calmed down by, of all people, Kramer).

Personally, I don’t see why anyone would view the two approaches as mutually exclusive, rather than complimentary. The less-politic activism from the non-HRC quarters of the gay community gives the HRC a way to say to its Washington insiders friends: “Look, we’re feeling pressure from our base to push you on this. We know it’s a tricky issue, but we’re being pushed in an impolite way and now we’re going to push you in a more polite way.”

But the question of the moment is whether HRC actually does end up getting things done with its thoughtful statements, well-placed donations, and private behind-the-scenes phone calls. Well, at least in the case of Obama and Clinton, it appears it did.

You’ll remember that at first Obama and Clinton both failed to defend the morality of homosexuality. But after this, from HRC, the other HRC, Hillary Rodham Clinton, put out a statement saying this:

I have heard from many of my friends in the gay community that my response yesterday to a question about homosexuality being immoral sounded evasive. My intention was to focus the conversation on the failed don’t ask, don’t tell policy. I should have echoed my colleague Senator John Warner’s statement forcefully stating that homosexuality is not immoral because that is what I believe.

And Obama put out a statement saying this:

I do not agree with General Pace that homosexuality is immoral. Attempts to divide people like this have consumed too much of our politics over the past six years.

Both of those statements could have been written by the Human Rights Campaign, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were.

(Cross-posted)

RSS icon Comments

1

I've always thought that both types of groups are necessary. you need the ones with connections and in roads to those with power, and you need the crazy, out there, fun ones to make the connected ones seem more reasonable. groups like ACT-UP, which i personally love, make groups like HRC seem very middle of the road.

Posted by konstantconsumer | March 16, 2007 1:08 PM
2

I'm a big fag and all, but why the fuck should a politician ever have to comment on morality? That's a job for philosophers and (maybe, just maybe) theologians.

I don't care if Bush thinks my cock sucking is "moral" just like I don't care if Clinton or Obama think it's moral.

To the contrary, I don't want my politicians dabbling in morality and the professions thereof. I sure as fuck don't want Reagan calling Osama bin Laden and others "the moral equivalents of our forefathers", then using this pretty morality mural as an excuse to finance and sell weapons to them.

Morality is for the church, not the Oval Office.

Barak and Clinton (and, yes, even Edwards, Erica) have made their support of the gays and their concrete benefits on society pretty damn clear. Don't fall into the trap of limiting your news intake to the three-second sound bites.

Posted by Chris | March 16, 2007 1:18 PM
3

I'm with Chris. I don't care about what people think of my morals. I just want my rights.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | March 16, 2007 1:48 PM
4

I'm with Chris @2 and Eli on this one because I'm a fag who loves. And they both have good points.

Posted by horat!osanzser!f | March 16, 2007 2:06 PM
5

Part of this recent dustup about the role of HRC is, indeed, a new expression of the long-running feud between fire-breathing radicals like Spaulding, Petralis, and Kramer and the work-in-the-system politicians at the DC organization.

It's doubtful that HRC could ever do anything that would please those wonderfully cranky activists.

Although they've piled on to the lastest blog dustup, the real source of it all was with former Washington Blade editor Chris Crane who questions only HRC's methods of working within the system.

(For those who don't recognize it, the phrase "former Blade editor" means that Crane is almost as far from a fire-breathing activist as a gay man working for a gay business can be.)

Having Crane and Petralis on the same side of an issue is remarkable -- as both of them have noted. But they're only slightly aligned in their criticism.

Crane and his former newspaper conglomerate question HRC's ways of spending the money raised, but Crane's most frequent critique of late is even simpler: The group has aligned itself so tightly with the Democratic Party that it can no longer advocate for gay issues that haven't been adopted by that party.

It can't (or won't) criticize the party. Crane offers up Tim Gill's new DC group as a better way of working within the system. He likes Gill's gay-centric, but non-partisan approach. It's doubtful that either Kramer or Petralis offer similar admiration for Gill.

The otherwise good Bay Windows story misses Crane's central role in it. (Maybe because it would have required the paper to print more than it would have liked about the Blade and its sister papers.)

Posted by Robinev | March 16, 2007 2:07 PM
6

I agree with number 1, both are necessary, but for the last ten or 15 years, its been only HRC, and the organization has been left to become bloated and dull. Crazy, nutty activist types need to be apart of creating social change, and not relegated to the phones or worse, driven to apathy because of being forced to play by the rules. It's a shame that Larry Kramer has to essentially come out of retirement to reactivate ACTUP and really push for some change. There should have been other, fresher faces that could have done that, but no, we have Reichen and Lance to be our spokespeople.

Balance the force, we must.

Posted by Brandon H | March 16, 2007 3:30 PM
7

Two ways you get politics to move in this country: Money and Embarassment.

HRC is the money bags. It probes congressional hallways for that 5 minute meeting with a mid-level staffer so they have someone to call (and the staffer does as well) when a subject of interest pops up. It makes those connections, people both in public office and in the org move up, and everyone is just peachy. Just like AIPAC, the US Chamber of Commerce and every other political action group/lobbyist of any size in DC. We on the left bitch about when Big Oil sends their lobbyist in to write legislation about opening up something like ANWR, and those on the other side bitch and moan when we do the same with our legislative tidbits. That's called politics in DC. While boring, that's the way things work at the federal level. If HRC wasn't there, some other group would be doing that sort of work.

Kramer, Savage, Sullivan, et al are all about embarrassment. Trying to find something embarrassing to quip about to flog more papers or get more publicity. This too has its purpose, which is quite different from HRC.

Is HRC bloated and bureaucratic? Absolutely. Are Kramer, Savage, Sullivan et al whiners that focus spotlights on thing within their interest and sometimes for their best interest? Absolutely. The activists push the HRC, and HRC responds like the giant elephant it is... slowly. That's the nature of the beast and it isn't any different in gayworld than it is anywhere else in the political realm.

Posted by Dave Coffman | March 16, 2007 4:12 PM
8

If they don't exactly parrot your words, you must attack ... isn't that how it goes?

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 16, 2007 4:13 PM
9

The fact that Obama and Clinton couldn't disagree with Pace's homophobic remarks immediately, in 2007 no less, is just shocking. Their desire to be "centrist" shouldn't include bigotry and cowardice. I, for one, will not donate to either campaign and am actively looking for another democrat to support regardless of their "chances". The stakes are too high for the gay community to accept a wink or nod from these campaigns. I want a candidate with some balls to speak the truth about gay people. Their HRC follow up comments were designed not to be heard by the public but got plenty of airtime on gay blogs etc..They seemed to have gotten their cake and eat it to. I say all this having co-chaired a fundraiser for Hillary in her senate run. I do not regret that but having met her and discussed issues important to our community I expected more. As for Obama all his talk about religion has left me uneasy. NOw I know why.

Posted by charlie f | March 17, 2007 4:13 AM
10

I am a nice het lady HRC type who has always loved Kramer with a passion, I even named my cat after him. Now, I am utterly fed up with mealy-mouted Democrats AND HRC and want the gloves to come off. Enough! No more hedging the rights of people who support you with their blood and money so your career can get advanced by not offending bigots. Hasn't the LGBTQ community dealt with that enough? Both Obama and Clinton get one more strike and they are out.

Posted by Jill in NYC | March 17, 2007 5:14 AM
11

Sullivan is a huge effin twit, case closed. He has been so consistently wrong about so many things that in an effort to revive a bit of street cred he will trash whomever, whatever he's posted on his enemies list. HRC's (no, not her) big mistake is simply refusing to bow down and worship at Andy's altar to himself and his pet hobbyhorses. Andy is the guy who happily serviced Reagan and Bush and the RightWingNuts all those years and who still thinks Florida, say, should have the right to make being gay/lesbian illegal. Can't we just make him marry Coulter?

Posted by Willy | March 17, 2007 7:15 AM
12

Sanders doesn't represent Sullivan's beef with the Human Rights Campaign accurately. This isn't a simple conflict between political insiders and outsiders, and Sullivan hasn't taken HRC to task, as Kramer has, for trying to work within the corridors of Washington power. Sullivan's claim is that HRC isn't even trying: HRC, in his view, has become more concerned with fundraising, merchandising and partisan campaigning than with constructive political activity. So he's asking (quite politely, given the circumstances and the stakes) for a little organizational accountability.

None of this should qualify as news, of course. For years GLBT people have joked that HRC really stands for "How to Raise Cash."

Posted by Timothy Hulsey | March 17, 2007 7:34 AM
13

Ditto what Willy says about Sullivan, but add Crain to the criticism.

What Crain and Sullivan don't like is being marginalized themselves by the HRC. This is about their egos, not about principle. Any fool can see we need both HRC and ACT UP types.

Sullivan, as Willy said, has been wrong about everything from the "end of the AIDS epidemic" to the invasion of Iraq. Lacking credibility, he can only stir the pot.

Crain has been booted out of Window Media (yeah, sure, he left to be in Brazil with his bf, uh huh). In just the way he liked to create controversy and ignore issues of real substance during his 10 years at gay newspapers, he's engaged in another attack on people who don't share his point of view. For more such crap, see his attacks on the transgendered.

Posted by biloxi bob | March 17, 2007 8:39 AM
14

I reject the notion that morals, morality and their opposites shouldn't be commented on by politicians--especially because homosexuality has been denigrated on moral grounds--and moral grounds alone--by a host of people, most notably the Christianists of the religious right. For many, homosexuality *is* a moral issue and it is important for people to understand that morality and morals are *not* ideas simply impose from 'above' as the bible-thumpers and many theolpgians would insist. Morals and morality can and do change within societies. At least part (if not much) of the increased acceptance of homosexuality in our society is due to more people understanding this--and realizing that they have the ability to break free from an imposed understanding of morality; they are free to decide for themselves; they are not forced to accept the dogma from priests, ministers and other self-styled arbiters of morality. The speaking out by prominent members of society, which politicians are--facilitates this.

We have to do everything we can to counter the idea that homosexuality is immoral because so many view it as a question only of morality. We have to counter the notion that the only acceptable morality is prescribed by the Church and that a changing view of morality is proscribed. We are not likely to convince those who subscribe to the beliefs of Phelps and his www.godhatesfags.com website, but cogent statements rebutting the 'homsexuality is immoral' fallacy--even, simply, press coverage of people stating that they do not believe homosexuality is immoral can help.

I, for one, very much care what Clinton and Obama think of the morality of homosexuality because it is so often framed this way. And to whoever wants my vote that's a question I want answered.

Posted by Kevin Kruger | March 17, 2007 8:57 AM
15

Echoing #6 and #13... I live in Houston -- red state and all (really purple in the big city)... Crain's monomania about the HRC drove our gay weekly out of business before his leaving the helm of Windows Media.

Neither Sully nor Crain ever acknowledge that during the last 13 years, the GOP-controlled Congress was NEVER going to pass anything remotely gay-positive. EVER.

Hate-crimes legislation in the wake of Matthew Shepard? Killed by Trent Lott.

ENDA? Passed the House. Killed by Senate inaction. Passed the Senate. Killed in conference by DeLay.

So the big effort in Congress was to play defense and hope to change the playing field.

On the Corporate side of things, using the power of persuasion, the HRC's Corporate Equality Index has given employee groups a benchmark tool (in corporate speak) to work with their management on change. 102 major corporations now have non-discrimination policies covering LGBT employees and provide domestic partner benefits.

Yes, the Kramers are needed to be the firebrands they are... but middle America looks to the HRC -- just like the NCAAP of its day.

Petrilis, Sullivan and Crain are simply about self-aggrandizement.

Posted by Mike inHouston | March 17, 2007 9:32 AM
16

Though I agree with MikeinHouston's overarching points I disagree with the implication that Sullivan is only out to self aggrandize. He's asking the HRC for evidence of how they count their members (since they toss the 650,000 figure around as if it were truth) and where and how they spend their money, questions that I ask any organization that wants my money. I haven't given them a dime because their fudging has been a known issue for some time.

I don't support hate crimes legislation as it effectively separates out what people think from what people do. This veers precipitously close to totalitarianism. It's the ridiculous 'free-speech zones seen on campuses nationwide writ large--except that it goes dangerously further and codifies 'proper' thought, not just speech.

Funny, not all gay guys think alike! Who'da thunk it? :-)

Posted by Kevin Kruger | March 17, 2007 10:23 AM
17

Both Sullivan and Crane challenge HRC to really be what it claims to be -- "America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality" instead of trying to be America's richest gay group supporting Democratic Party politics.

Democrats have, indeed, done far more than Republicans on gay issues, but HRC weakens its message by trying to work so closely with the party. Democrats worried that opposing popular anti-gay-marriage initiatives would weaken their own message. Fine for them, but not fine for HRC which followed them down that disasterous path.

Democrats weren't ready to push very hard on DADT and instead figured throwing out the scrap of ENDA would do. HRC followed along. That's a disaster.

HRC works from within the beltway. Fine. But they should push harder to expand the belt and they can't do that while they see their job as being Democrats first and gay activists second.

Posted by Robinev | March 17, 2007 12:10 PM
18

This isn't about mainstream vs. radical (and needing both). A "mainstream" organization can work the halls of power without selling out.

HRC sold out, plain and simple. Take Joe Lieberman. HRC endorsed Lieberman not only in the CT general election last fall, but also in the Democratic primary months earlier. Ned Lamont was an outspoken advocate for gay rights, including marriage. Lieberman could only say through a spokesman that he didn't disagree with CT's civil unions law. And that's not all -- Joe's equivocation on gay issues are legion.

One might say: See...HRC knew Lieberman was going to win and so they did the good and practical thing and didn't piss off a senator whose vote they'd (we'd) someday need.

I'd say: Lieberman has become a nightmare (something the good Democrats in CT knew). He's been threatening to switch parties and flip the whole Senate chamber over to the Republicans, who have trashed gays for the past 12 years and then some. His stands on church and state jeopardize gay causes. And I won't even get started on the Iraq War, which has killed and maimed far too many soldiers, many of whom are gay.

HRC sold out long ago. It's time to replace them.

Posted by Another Kevin | March 17, 2007 12:21 PM
19

Unlike Robinev above, I don't fault HRC for being too closely allied with a political party. (Full disclosure: I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Dem.) If Republicans controlled either chamber of Congress right now, not only would that chamber not bring up pro-gay legislation, they would instead be bashing gays for political gain (more "protecting marriage" legislation, Constitional amendments, and so on).

That isn't to say that gays shouldn't support good Republican candidates where we find them. Just that we need to be mindful that the national Republican party, in its very bones, is vehemently antigay.

Posted by Another Kevin | March 17, 2007 12:31 PM
20

Spot-on Robinev and Another.

For an expanded view of the membership issue see this article: http://washingtonblade.com/2005/5-6/news/national/members.cfm

Posted by Kevin Kruger | March 17, 2007 12:42 PM
21

But, Kevin, mightn't the HRC be more effective if instead of being seen as an 'ineffectual organization that inflates its membership numbers, acts as a Democratic party mouthpiece rather than representing the full spectrum of gay political leanings, and vilifies its gay critics' [from the article above] it did recognize and *support* politicians whose views aligned with theirs irrespective of political affiliation? There *are* Republicans (as well as Libertarians and others) whose views do align with HRC's and, occasionally at least, non-Dem politicians who identify themselves as gay.

Posted by Kevin Kruger | March 17, 2007 12:59 PM
22

Sullivan is an utter fool - anyone who thinks he has a leadership role on gay issues needs a hearing aid....and some memory.

He is a pro war, pro generic Bush conservative.

Who needs that shit?

I have less issues with HRC today than a decade ago. I just sent them `100.00 when all this nonsense came out.

DC is a pit, and they are there working it. Big organization, high visibility, tank God someone has built a large muti state organization that can sustain, repeat sustain itself.

Thanks God we do not rely on Sullivan, Crain, or Petrelis.

Sure a bunch of whining ninny's in our movement.

HRC even gets beat on for buying a building in DC. About fucking time we quit expecting our organizations to operate off some alley space. Sounds like a great investment as well. Oh, it cost millions, well- they raised it one dollar at a time. Great fund raisers, thank God. Finally.

Anyone know any rich queens? Plenty.

Posted by eric | March 17, 2007 4:43 PM
23

eric, you couldn't be any more wrong about sullivan's beliefs about the war or bush. he is very critical of both. he came on to the idea late, but he has very intelligent and very damning ideas about the two now.

Posted by konstantConsumer | March 17, 2007 5:13 PM
24

more wrong - hah!!

gimme a break - he is the epitome of late comer to all things

why is it a whole movement had figured out the the Bush game and the war game and he - so educated and moon faced - just got aboard

he is an ultra conservative and now faces a problem - change spots for a while or look like a real fool

no I am not wrong - I think he is a shit bag, and no leader

talking head says it well, blah blah blah blah, for money no less

Posted by eric | March 17, 2007 7:18 PM
25

Sullivan seems to forget who was in charge of Congress for the last decade, which is odd, since it was his party. His new-found "independent" status might even be real for all I know, but it sure, SURE isn't old.

I will begin to have a problem with the HRC being so closely associated with the Democratic Party when the GOP does anything pro-gay. I expect to die of old age before developing this hypothetical problem, and I'm not that old...

Posted by BobN | March 17, 2007 8:29 PM
26

I have to agree with #15.

Using co-sponsors as a measure, I've actually run (and posted) the latest figures for Immigration Reform (AUFA Act) and for fixing up DADT (Military Readiness Act).

Can you guess how many GOP co-sponsored these bills? If you guess three, you would have been right ...

Against that backdrop, "accountability" has to have a different measure.

Posted by Amicus | March 18, 2007 9:10 AM
27

Sullivan has never fashioned himself as a gay 'leader'. He disavowed the war and the Bush administration some time ago, in one of the most cogent mea culpas I've read, and has never supported the religious right.

Sullivan is not the only one questioning the financial choices of the HRC--many people are. I agree with his position on HRC's purchase of the building but I can see other's opposing views as rational. For those that do not subscribe to knee-jerk reactions necessarily having validity, who might be interested in the latest from him: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/03/hrc_update.html

Posted by Kevin Kruger | March 18, 2007 10:07 AM
28

Kevin,

Just some more facts.

The GMHC also have their own building. Was that a "waste"?

In NYC, The Center owns its own building, too.

The Gill Foundation owns a building.

I tried to find out if The Denver Community Center own their own property, but I couldn't determine it.

If there is a Capital Campaign, and people donate money specifically to raise a new roof, do you intend to condemn that practice?

Posted by Amicus | March 18, 2007 10:40 AM
29

kevin

how can you be such a dork?

In Seattle the community center pays 5,000.00 a month in rent.

Why would they not be better off with a building of their own? And, they have been trying for years to purchase.

If Sully does not fashion himself a gay leader, why is he so invested in dictating terms and silly pot shotting to HRC???

All his face time on the tube is because he is queer - oh, geez.

And the media chose a conservative queer to boot - oh geez, surprise.

You have a thing for Sullivan, that is OK. Many of us have not like his take on the world for a very long time.

Posted by eric | March 18, 2007 12:38 PM
30

Kevin-

You may be alone in stressing about the building purchase. Alone.

Did you really read how they financed the purchase? Ten, of the thousands of possible very wealthy donors, did a million each.

I should stress that finally the rich fags and dykes put out some real money for the movement.

Larry Kramer, old arch type trouble maker, in the speech of the decade last week called for the rich among us to give more.....seems like HRC made it happen.

I think you live in a small world.

The last thing to be concerned about is HRC buying a building.

Must go - the anti war demo calls.

Posted by rorry | March 18, 2007 12:52 PM
31

Buying their own building probably did make sense, even if might have they picked an odd time in the market to do so. But paying out $160,000 last year to pay off the employment contract of an exec director they fired over two years ago does not make sense.

On the broader issue, Crane responds in a post today: "My criticism is from the left, not the right, and it is that HRC does not stand up to Democrats enough when they are too weak-kneed to spend political capital on our issues."

Posted by Robinev | March 18, 2007 4:18 PM
32

That would be Crain. Sorry

Posted by Robinev | March 18, 2007 4:21 PM
33

Yeah, eric, name-calling will get you everywhere. (Reminds me of 6th grade.) It *sure* makes me value your opinion.

Amicus, that's a good question. No, I wouldn't 'condemn the practive' a priori. My issue with HRC has long been their inflated sense of themselves and their lack of getting much done with the money they've collected--besides, at this point, buying a building. If there are groups that actually have something to show for their efforts that then feel some of their money would be better spent in purchasing real estate so that they don't have to pay rent and can realize the value of growing equity, so be it. It is groups like HRC, notwithstanding all their self-promotion, that I have issues with. For all their years in 'business' they seem much more concerned with fund-raising and sucking up to their annointed politicos, not pushing for needed changes in any meaningful way. There are better organizations, imo.

Posted by Kevin Kruger | March 18, 2007 6:17 PM
34

Also--take a look at the Gill Foundations clearly spelled-out resources and compare them to the obfuscations of HRC.

I am not the only one that has issues with HRC (or rather, Sullivan, Crain and I). Amicus, I know you're aware of Lavi Soloway's position as you posted a comment to his blog. For those not: http://continuedhere.blogspot.com/2007/03/give-instead-to-organizations-that-make.html

Posted by Kevin Kruger | March 18, 2007 6:32 PM
35

The quote Robinev just posted from Crain is apt, and illustrated yet another complaint I have with HRC outside of my concerns with their finances.

Posted by Kevin Kruger | March 18, 2007 6:36 PM
36

middle America looks to the HRC

I hope you're joking.

Middle America doesn't even know HRC exists, let alone what it's about. Heck, even its name is closeted. They'd probably confuse it with Human Rights Watch, if that.

Posted by Brian Miller | March 18, 2007 9:08 PM
37

Another quick observation -- ever notice that criticism of HRC from within the gay community seems to earn more attacks (and action from HRC) than attacks from Democrats against the gay community?

When was the last time Solomonese and other HRC partisans launched attacks on anti-gay Democrats like Ford, or either of the Clintons, or Lieberman, or Zell Miller, or numerous others, that were as pointed, hateful and personal?

Never.

Something to consider.

Posted by Brian Miller | March 18, 2007 9:15 PM
38

Brian - hope someday, heaven is OK for you .... you seem soured on life.

HRC has a lot of visibility - of course ARP has 35 million members.......

Or do numbers matter to you.....gay activists are more interested in gay stuff than any others.....and we are only some small fraction of the population.

Just what the hell do you expect?

Attack the dead ex, so washed up, president Ford....???

Hope you send money to some national org..... to each his own as the old saying goes.

Posted by earl | March 18, 2007 10:01 PM
39

Kevin,

I've found that there are quite a few who have egos in gay-politics. Do you think Sullivan's or Crain's is less inflated than HRC's? Why? Both of them are asserting their own primacy based on their personal stories, in ways that are inimical to gay-institution building (institutions have to become bigger than individuals, at some point in time) - which may be reason why they personally do not "fit" into building institutions, but into criticizing them, yes?

The bottomline is that they seem resentful that the gay movement has come to a point in time when it can afford to have a fancy building and snappy execs. It's their worst two-headed nightmare: Rich AND Democrat.

Sure, the salaries for all these organizations make me quite uneasy, even resentful, that someone may be getting rich off pushing for gay rights, but that is the future, as the movement matures. It's not a shameful betrayal, I don't think, even if I'd like to see salaries curbed. The NAACP pays its folks more than HRC, and if you look around to what others in gay organizations are making, it's not like Exec Directors in other organizations are "starving". Frankly, at $76K, Victoria Nelson is 50-100% underpaid, compared to her Lamda Legal peers and to the Exec Dir of Freedom to Marry NYC.

Can we apply the same standards and logic as Sullivan does to other organizations? Immigration Equality has taken in $1M from 2001-2004, according to their statements. Where is *my* legislation? None? They must be "wasteful" ...

Glibness aside, I don't see how Immigration Equality is the same kind of organization as HRC aspires to be. They appear to focus on gay-services, not gay-rights. I didn't see any line-item for Congressional lobbying, if they do some, and they don't appear to be obviously organized for it.

If you meant that folks ought to consider donating more to gay-services than to gay-rights fighting, that's a separate proposition, right?

Posted by Amicus | March 19, 2007 2:18 AM
40

right on ---"rich AND Democrat"

Gay Republican are in real pain --- and --

should add, rich AND Democrat, and not taking orders from GAY Conservatives a la Andrew Sullivan.

Or GAY rock throwers a la the infamous obsessive critic of everything he encounters -- Michale Petrellis.

Posted by eric | March 19, 2007 5:38 AM
41

hope someday, heaven is OK for you .... you seem soured on life

What a perfect example of the personal attacks I was describing earlier!

Every critic of HRC is painted as a bitter, life-hating partisan Republican out to "tear down the movement."

The only problem is that in every single major development in gay rights over the last 10 years -- *every* single one -- HRC has been either opposed (marriage) or a follower (military equality).

Just what the hell do you expect?

Open forums for candidates.

Asking Hillary Clinton and other HRC darlings why they support the DOMA.

Asking Hillary Clinton and other HRC darlings why they haven't acted on the issues that matter most to gay families.

You know. . . lobbying and activism.

HRC seems to spend more time savaging its critics in the gay movement, having black-tie gala dinners, and building expensive glass palaces than it ever spends doing real, productive work.

Mix in the complete opacity of its operations, the arrogance of its senior executives, its undemocratic power structure (where members and "the community" have no influence whatsoever), and its consumption of by my math over $100 million in the last 10 years in exchange for nothing, and you've got to start asking -- who needs it?

The biggest events HRC ever held were the embarassing MMOW, and an upcoming "concert for equality" in Berkeley that will raise more cash for HRC to. . . hold more concerts, I guess.

Posted by Brian Miller | March 19, 2007 10:29 AM
42

Oh, what the fuk, I'll go one more round:

"HRC seems to spend more time savaging its critics in the gay movement, having black-tie gala dinners, and building expensive glass palaces than it ever spends doing real, productive work."
========
Do you have anything to back that up? Almost everyone throws parties - let's stack up the numbers and see who is best/worst, o.k.?


or a follower (military equality).
=======
So, when groups like SLDN start up litigation and Log Cabins do their own lawsuit on DADT, you believe that the HRC should muscle them out or do it's own lawsuit, just to add ... emphasis?

In other words, are you lamenting a Community organization/fragmentation problem, or an HRC problem?


Asking Hillary Clinton and other HRC darlings
====
see, you say things like that and you wonder why you get called names ...


The only problem is that in every single major development in gay rights over the last 10 years ...
=========
o.k., here's a few questions, in the spirit of Sullivan asking 'transparency' questions:

1. What are the "major developments" in gay rights in the next six, nine, and twelve months, and over the next three years? Be precise.

2. What do you think there is in the past five years that ought to have been done that simply wasn't tried at all, either by the HRC or some other organization?

3. Do you think you can give money and get social change or buy votes to legislate social change? Why or why not and how long does it take?

4. Woody Allen once quipped that 90% of life was just showing up. What value do you ascribe to having a visible and formal presence in the political lifeblood of the nation?

Posted by Amicus | March 19, 2007 2:39 PM
43

Do you have anything to back that up? [i.e. that HRC is ineffective at things other than black-tie gala dinners]

Sure.

Hundreds upon hundreds of black-tie dinners, galas, concerts, and other fluff.

Zero (0) successful campaigns for federal legislation.

What are the "major developments" in gay rights in the next six, nine, and twelve months, and over the next three years?

I have no clue.

I do know the major developments in the last ten years though, and every single one of them happened in the face of HRC opposition and/or minimal involvement by that organization. Judging from the past performance, plus HRC's big exciting concerts (and closed forums for Hillary), I have little doubt to expect the record of failure will continue.

What do you think there is in the past five years that ought to have been done that simply wasn't tried at all, either by the HRC or some other organization?

Significant funding and on-the-ground campaign support for opposing anti-gay state amendments in the last two election cycles.

Even NGLTF, an organization with considerably fewer resources in terms of cash and employees, spent more money and had more support infrastructure than HRC.

Most states were left to fare on their own by HRC, with little to no support whatsoever.

Do you think you can give money and get social change or buy votes to legislate social change? Why or why not and how long does it take?

HRC doesn't give money to influence social change or buy votes. Rather, it gives money to candidates, such as the Clintons, who have no intention of making social change -- and rewards anti-gay votes on DOMA with endorsements and more cash.

Woody Allen once quipped that 90% of life was just showing up. What value do you ascribe to having a visible and formal presence in the political lifeblood of the nation?

A very high one. Of course, HRC is neither viable nor formal as a presence in politics.

It has no contact with the grass roots, it isn't democratically operated, and as a wing of the Democratic campaign organization it by necessity places partisan Democratic interests above those of everyday gay and lesbian people.

A high profile, politically involved organization would be nonpartisan, would withhold endorsements and cash from homophobes like the Clintons (or Al D'Amato) until they formally changed their positions, would engage third party and independent candidates, and would operate independently of the DNC.

HRC isn't that organization -- and given their arrogant posturing in the face of criticism from the gay press across the political spectrum, they don't intend to be anytime soon.

There.

I've given more of an answer to your peacockish and leading "questions" than HRC will ever give to Sullivan's questions asking for basic disclosure about HRC's actual operations.

Posted by Brian Miller | March 19, 2007 5:32 PM
44

Here, then, to summarize:

You don't know the future of gay rights, even near or mid-term, but you expect Others to have been in the right place at the right time on just about everything that happened and all that in the right way, too.

You think that there was a real chance squandered in the last ten years, with a GOP House and most of it with a GOP POTUS and an anti-gay-marriage public, to pass Federal legislation. Fancy accounting, that.

In 20/20 hindsight, it has been the fault of the HRC for not doing "on the ground campaign support" to counter a blacklash that you (or others) also fault them for creating, by adopting what one other poster called their "across the board support for marriage".

You don't like giving money to candidates, but you don't say what "on the ground support" means to you. NGLTF has always had a more grassroots orientation (that I can remember), but they haven't been successful in other ways. Tell me, do you find them more transparent or more accountable somehow? More focused?

You have a Camelot vision of a grassroots supported, "democratic", LGBT National Organization that can take time out to address the hoots and howls of each pundit who has a blog. Good luck with that. I have a rule of thumb that every time a room fills with more than 13 LGBT activistes they are ready to sub-divide and organize separately.

You dodge the question on whether HRC's party/fundraisers are somehow more decadent/wasteful than anyone elses.

You dodge the SLDN question and don't offer any vision of how you want to go about social change in general or how long it might take. Can you see how that lack of preparation is what maybe some take as "arrogant questioning" of the HRC? I'm not saying folks ought not to question - never! What I am saying is that people talk past each other easily when one *starts* their questioning with accusation and summary judgement (not that you did, but that has been done).

Posted by Amicus | March 19, 2007 10:05 PM
45

The sort of back and forth on this great thread is something I wish we had with the HRC site.

I can't find any page at HRC that is interactive, and engages the community. Sure, I understand they need to post releases about their latest involvement with celebs and tix for dinners, and their once-weekly blog for the radio show is a small step into the blogosphere, even if no transcripts of the shows are available, but the entire community would greatly benefit if HRC staff could engage us bloggers critics.

Someone once said the way to deal with speech you don't like is with more speech, so I suggest to HRC that it allow staffers to blog, on all sorts of topics, not just our criticism, which still addressing, instead of just sliming bloggers who don't goose-step to the HRC band.

And Solmonese should also move his blog on HuffPost to the HRC site. Glad he has a blog, but it strikes me as odd that it isn't on his group's site.

Speaking of blogs and new ways of communicating, I was amused to read HRC's release on the hiring of Solmonese and seeing he has a degree in communications. Huh? He may have a degree in communications, handy for the upper reaches of DNC circles and Washington cocktail parties, but he stinks at respectful dialogue.

Posted by MPetrelis | March 19, 2007 10:24 PM
46

after i got an alert from sean bugg, i sent this around to friends.

From Bugg's blog:

>I'm sure it's just the vestiges of the genteel Southerner in me, but I hope the DEFCON level begins to drop a bit soon, on both sides. All that smoke can still choke out the fire.

i like sean a lot and think he's got good critical thinking skills when it comes to the gay movement, so i'm a bit disappointed he wants the critical noise to drop a few notches. nope, that's not an answer, not when the HRC can't even hold a public meeting in SF, or regular town hall meetings at its DC diggs, never mind web-cast such community forums.

no let up until HRC develops and commits to honest respectful engagement with blogger critics, provides an interactive page on their web site, answers serious questions about their political managements.

what sean bugg doesn't realize is that blogger critics have raised our voices and concerns, put our thoughts out there for readers to consider, and except for solmonese's bitchy letter in the SF bay times, HRC has only replied via the media; bay windows and washington blade, so the HRC has not, and it should, communicated well with us.

over all though, bugg is right on in addressing the continuing drama of making HRC better and delivering REAL results for the community.

mp

-----Original Message-----
From: sbugg@metroweekly.com
To: sean@seanbugg.com
Sent: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 8:39 PM
Subject: Another round on the nature of the beast

http://seanbugg.typepad.com/buggblog/2007/03/nature_of_the_b.html

Sean Bugg
sbugg@metroweekly.com

Posted by MPetrelis | March 19, 2007 10:41 PM
47

And this handsome blogger in DC has some good things to say in response to Aravosis and his statements to the Blade last week, and in general, the Rice Geneticist, blogs well on things HRC:

http://ricegeneticist.blogspot.com/

Posted by MPetrelis | March 19, 2007 11:16 PM
48


The Human Rights Campaign is as transparent as a cauldron of tar.

-----Original Message-----
From: David.M.Smith@hrc.org
To: mpetrelis@aol.com
Sent: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 12:16 PM
Subject: RE: Cameras allowed at HRC SF meeting, March 21?

Michael this event is invitation only and not open to the public. You will not be admitted.

From: mpetrelis@aol.com [mailto:mpetrelis@aol.com]
Sent: Monday, March 19, 2007 1:57 PM
To: Events; Joe Solmonese; David.M.Smith; Brad Luna
Cc: BARpaper@aol.com; Matthewsbajko@aol.com
Subject: Cameras allowed at HRC SF meeting, March 21?

Dear HRC,

A friend of mine will be joining me for Joe Solmonese's meeting this Wednesday night at 7 pm here in SF, and he wants to tape the meeting with his camcorder. Will cameras and tape recorders be allowed at your meeting at the Olivia offices? Please advise.

Best,
Michael

Posted by MPetrelis | March 19, 2007 11:47 PM
49

You don't know the future of gay rights, even near or mid-term, but you expect Others to have been in the right place at the right time on just about everything that happened and all that in the right way, too.

Me? I'm just a little libertarian working my ass off trying to make a living who devotes a large amount of his spare time to gay issues.

You're going to compare me with so-called professionals who are full-time gay rights activists, with over $150 million in income during that time, who position themselves as "experts" who tell us everything we need to know, and expect their judgment to be final?

You cannot have it both ways. Either HRC is super-intelligent and has amazing insight -- deserving all that cash and the deference that you're demanding they receive. In that case, they shouldn't have a record of complete, 100% failure.

Or, they have a failed record but try really really hard. In which case, they shouldn't be a closed organization that attempts to dictate policy on politics and such -- and they deserve as much funding for their gay rights efforts as I do (and that's a hell of a lot less than $150 million).

You think that there was a real chance squandered in the last ten years, with a GOP House and most of it with a GOP POTUS and an anti-gay-marriage public, to pass Federal legislation

Yes, I do.

Keep in mind that when HRC endorsed Clinton, he had a Democratic House and Senate.

And the GOP only controlled one of the two houses for much of its term while Dems had the Senate and presidency.

What did we get out of it? DOMA and DADT -- and HRC endorsements for Democrats who supported anti-gay legislation.

Great return on $150 million isn't it?

You have a Camelot vision of a grassroots supported, "democratic", LGBT National Organization that can take time out to address the hoots and howls of each pundit who has a blog

Nope. I do have a couple of expectations, however:

1) An organization that positions itself as representing all LGBT people should, at a minimum, be representational of all LGBT people. That means having auditable records, comprehensive reports on its activities, a board that is elected by the general membership, and a mission driven by membership votes. Political parties and other groups manage to do this. If HRC won't allow democratic participation and open membership, then it should immediately drop the pretention that it "represents gay people," since it doesn't. Again, you cannot have it both ways.

2) If HRC wants to be a "national rights organization" with credibility, it should drop the Enron-style accounting and clearly explain where all of its money is coming from and going to. HRC has a horrendous record -- by independent watchdogs' standards -- on this issue.

3) If HRC wants to point out reasons why it has been completely and totally ineffective in the past 15 years -- both in years where Democrats were the majority, and years when the Republicans were the majority -- that's fine. They'd just better stop their idiotic positioning as "experts" on the issues -- unless the issue is "how to spend over $150 million and have absolutely nothing to show for it."

You dodge the SLDN question and don't offer any vision of how you want to go about social change in general or how long it might take.

I don't dodge the question, because SLDN can point to successes and hasn't spent anywhere near the cash that HRC has. SLDN also claims to represent not all gay people, but just its membership.

HRC has spent several orders of magnitude more cash, and claims to represent all gay people. Big difference.

SLDN also operates in an open and transparent fashion. It files regular financial reports that are open, has a board of directors elected by the paid membership, and is directly accountable to members. HRC is diametrically opposed in each of these areas.

Not to mention that SLDN has gotten legislation passed.

Comparing a focused and effective transparent organization like SLDN to HRC is an insult to SLDN, frankly.

this event is invitation only and not open to the public

Typical.

Any event involving any political figure, like Hillary Clinton, who is basically homophobic but still being endorsed, gets this sort of line.

HRC is about as open as the government of Iran.

Posted by Brian Miller | March 20, 2007 3:44 PM
50

Wow. Been away but was thinking I'd drop back in and, once again, be marginalized for my views...

Thanks for your cogent input, Brian and Michael! I knew it wasn't only me and Sullivan and Crain.

Posted by Kevin Kruger | March 20, 2007 10:14 PM
51

Well, if you don't have a general view of where gay rights are going, then how can you (a) either ask critical questions or (b) make any kind of sensical, critical assessment? Rely on Andrew Sullivan to make up your mind for you?

I'd suggest that the reason you don't have an answer to those questions is that they are damn hard, not because you are "just a little libertarian".

And, yes, an organization, can take money and not have a 100% track-record. Professional athletes do it all the time, don't they? They don't disband the team if they don't win the World Series every year, do they?

You have another common mistake, which is not to draw a distinction between local and national, and Congressional and Executive. This leads you to focus on the Clinton Presidential endorsement. Few reasonably expect that a Democratic National OR a GOP National Exec is going to move far in favor of rights, but at least a Democratic one will be favorable in other ways, just as Clinton was (Bush has been actively hostile, so ...).

#1: You don't have to have representative governance to represent someone. Even a democratically elected organization could never represent all gay people, because all of them do not agree - never will. Under that scenario, one might end up here complaining that the "majority" doesn't pay attention to the "minority" interests - and it's the same thing all over again, more or less.

#2. So far as I know, they comply just like any other organization with the accounting rules and they are audited. Which "watchdog" are you referring to?

#3. When you come up with some detailed yardstick for accountability, rather than just some sweeping summary statement, we'll have a chance to either agree or disagree. #15 above already gave the explanation why legislation wasn't going to pass in these Congresses and why can't they expect that interested people should know the basics? They raise money, so of course they suggest they are experts - would you give money to folks who were charming but didn't claim to be more than half-baked?

So far as I know, the SLDN have a federal lawsuit on DADT (not 100% sure) and so do the Log Cabins (100% sure that they say so). To be precise, what is the role you now see for the HRC in this? You fault them on the issue, but what they hell are they supposed to do, file yet another lawsuit for emphasis? Waste a lot of money lobbying against George Bush's veto? I'd wager some would be in here upset if they did that, too, sort of damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't; and the reason for that is because people don't have an consensus on how they want to go about things, and the vocal critics aren't helping with too many educational doses on that, are they?


By the way, I noticed that our posts were deleted from that other blog where we were discussing things? What's up with that?

Posted by Amicus | March 21, 2007 1:59 PM
52

if you don't have a general view of where gay rights are going, then how can you (a) either ask critical questions or (b) make any kind of sensical, critical assessment?

I didn't say I don't have a view -- I simply questioned HRC's. You seem to think that I should have as many fingers in every pie as a $150 million + organization, for whatever reason.

they comply just like any other organization with the accounting rules and they are audited

They received 1 star for transparent financials from a recent charitable watchdog.

the reason you don't have an answer to those questions is that they are damn hard

I provided you with extensive answers to those questions, which you have chosen to ignore.

Summarized pithily (so you'll read them this time), HRC is focused on ENDA and hate crimes. . . issues that haven't motivated the grass roots at all.

What has motivated the grass roots? Marriage. A concept that HRC first attacked and then quietly acquiesced to -- while not funding any of the fight against anti-gay amendments.

I don't need to have a "super vision" of the direction of the gay movement to know that HRC is out of step. For you to suggest otherwise -- or that even such a super-view is possible -- is manifestly silly.

When you come up with some detailed yardstick for accountability, rather than just some sweeping summary statement, we'll have a chance to either agree or disagree.

As I said before, and as you (once again) ignored, the best benchmark is one successful piece of legislation that is supported by the gay community.

So far, after almost 20 years, they haven't even passed that benchmark. Hell, gay rights groups in Alabama have done better.

Failing a single successful piece of relevant legislation, they could serve as a voice for LGBT Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs -- but that would require an open structure with events where gay people of all sorts are allowed to show up and ask questions.

See Mr. Petrelis' last post to see how well they're doing on that front.

Finally, as a practical sort, I tend to think that tangible results are a measure of success. I've long challenged HRC's supporters, including you, to produce a single tangible success that HRC has produced.

That you've failed to produce even one -- despite my repeated challenges -- and instead tried to redefine "failure" -- is evidence that my position seems to be the factually correct one.

They raise money, so of course they suggest they are experts

Experts on raising money, perhaps.

The CWA raise money too -- are they also experts on gay rights?

Real experts are people who get things done.

As your repeated silences on my inquiries as to what tangible results HRC has delivered indicate, HRC hasn't gotten things done. Ergo, they're experts in the one and only area where they have a modicum of success -- raising money.

In every other gay-related area, they've got little to support their contentions.

So far as I know, the SLDN have a federal lawsuit on DADT (not 100% sure) and so do the Log Cabins (100% sure that they say so). To be precise, what is the role you now see for the HRC in this?

None, really. HRC is so far behind the ball that a small non-profit and a small partisan group had to step up to the plate to do their job for them. Likely for far less money than HRC has, itself, raised.

The fact that HRC isn't leading with lawsuits, and instead leaving that to groups like GLAD, SLDN and the friggin' LCR, suggests that people who want to see real action leading to real change on marriage, DADT, etc. should send their money to those groups and not HRC.

Waste a lot of money lobbying against George Bush's veto?

That would be a step up from their present strategy of wasting a lot of money on teddy bears, logowear, Blondie concerts, MMOW paybacks, and black-tie filet mignon plates.

I'd wager some would be in here upset if they did that, too, sort of damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't

Why not debate actual positions rather than assign ridiculous straw-man policies and debate those? The former option is more relevant and enlightening.

people don't have an consensus on how they want to go about things

Oh, no doubt, but HRC doesn't even engage everyday people to try and argue the positions themselves. HRC makes all of its decisions in a top-down, closed fashion without consultation or participation from the broader community.

In a sense, HRC does represent consensus -- the consensus of partisan Democrats, and individuals wealthy enough to buy an audience in its invitation only "community forums."

And that's fine -- they just shouldn't paint themselves as representative of the community when they clearly aren't. . . in practice; in policy; in operations; in issues pursued; or even in basic political orientation.

Posted by Brian Miller | March 22, 2007 4:07 PM
53

Brian,

The best criticisms come from people who have alternatives and constructive ideas. Not those who say, "I know what I like when I see it".

A coach who just hits his team-members for "losing" and doesn' teach or instruct them how to win is just a hack. I can find 10 people easily who do not agree that the benchmark is marriage legislation. What is this mystery legislation that everyone agrees is needed nationally?

The Charity rating has been debunked (you can find the hyperlink where I have blogged on these things. Take care on items you have checked out, because not all bloggers correct themselves when new information surfaces).

Go the HRC website and read their annual reports and also read the recent Bay Windows story, if you continue to be interested in some of the things HRC is doing. Also, the Rev. Gene Robinson wrote on Mar 16h in the Wash Blade on how some of his work alongside the HRC is going [some 90 million people reached by his groups message].

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the SLDN never wanted to be part of HRC - they wanted to organize separately. Ditto, LCR. Should the HRC have prevented them? Funded them, as someone suggested they ought to have done for Immigration Equality?

It's preplexing: people derride the HRC, but they almost always add that they want/wanted HRC money to support this-or-that effort.

Why you think wasting money on a doomed legislative initiative (against a Presidential veto) is efficient, that's something you have to explain further.

If they weren't good at fundraising, no one would bother about them. It's a good skill to have.

I don't have a problem trying to "grassroot the grassroots" organizations. I posted on this recently. As long as it doesn't turn into a gripe fest, you are right, such an exercise might be constructive. However, it is not obvious. Sometimes, people sharpen their views and get more angry with each other, rather than reach any consesnus on what to do and, more importantly, how to do it.

Posted by Amicus | March 22, 2007 9:01 PM
54

The best criticisms come from people who have alternatives and constructive ideas.

That's assuming you think HRC can be reformed into something useful to the LGBT community. Given that it's done nothing useful or meaningful in its entire life, and it's a voracious cash consumer, I'm not of that mind.

I think the best thing that could happen to HRC is to shut it down and let the money it consumes go to more effective groups like GLAD (single-a GLAD as in Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders), SLDN, EM, and other groups who are effective.

A coach who just hits his team-members for "losing" and doesn' teach or instruct them how to win is just a hack.

Except they're not my team members. They don't want my involvement, they don't allow me to participate in their efforts, they're an "invitation-only" group that actively undermined the gay marriage campaign that's most relevant to "heartland homos" at the moment.

They're utterly irrelevant to gay people and gay rights causes, which is my initial point. To that end, the only thing they do is consume cash that would be more effectively spent elsewhere.

The Charity rating has been debunked

No, the independent rating agency has been attacked. . . there's a difference, you know.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the SLDN never wanted to be part of HRC

I don't speak for SLDN, but I'd imagine you're correct. After all, groups that want to get things done and be effective at actual lobbying for gay rights tend to go to lengths to avoid HRC.

Why you think wasting money on a doomed legislative initiative (against a Presidential veto) is efficient

Because it actually increases awareness and puts politicians who want gay support on notice as to the importance of the issue to the LGBT community.

Whereas, your entire argument seems to be "let's waste money on costume parties, gay cruises, teddy bears and galas instead because it's not going to get passed anyway." Sorry, but I think that an "advocate for the movement" should spend money on, you know, advocacy.

If they weren't good at fundraising, no one would bother about them.

The problem is that they're good at fundraising through deception. If people actually knew where their money was going, and had a sense of how poorly HRC has done at actual advocacy, they'd be more likely to give money to groups that actually *are* effective.

And HRC, like all large, unaccountable bureaucracies, would sooner see the LGBT mission fail than lose out on its own funding.

Sometimes, people sharpen their views and get more angry with each other, rather than reach any consesnus on what to do and, more importantly, how to do it.

Ergo, I suppose, we should be allowing fearless leaders to make the decisions for us, lest this messy grassroots diversity "harm our momentum."

I don't accept that premise -- but even if I did, the last person in the world who is in any position to hold that role is Joe Solomonese, a man who is newer to the gay rights struggle than just about anyone else in any position. . . a partisan Democrat who has already shown his inability to work with anyone who isn't a partisan Democrat.

Posted by Brian Miller | March 23, 2007 9:56 AM
55

You start off with the dishonesty that they have done nothing and that their existence represents nothing. Both are false.

You accuse them of deception, but I think you use it too.

You don't like HRC because they are not gay-conservatives, Republicans, or Libetarians.

The rest of your criticisms are in service to that, sadly. For instance, you don't say why these other organizations are effective, when none of them have won any gay rights legislation for anyone that everyone has agreed on (your gold standard), that I know. You suggest that these other groups wanted to get something done, but they were largely gay services organizations at their start, which was never HRC's focus, so no, they didn't belong together. Therefore, your criticism is a slur.

I would expect you, as a self-described libertarian, not to be questioning how other people want to spend their money. If folks have a party, then that's what they want. Obviously, it is a formula that works, because it is done across the board. I don't like these kinds of affairs myself, but that is what OTHERS like.

Somehow I doubt that more people and money in the field would have stopped all or any of the state anti-marriage amendments. Therefore, the idea that they abandoned the homeland and actively worked against marriage is another slur.

The Charity Navigator thing was debunked. The HRC is not a "1". The criticism was not an attack, it was that the rating was (a) incomplete and (b) not properly qualified.

Your "bipartisan" appeal is deceptive, because it suggests that there is a playing field to be split even-steven, fifty-fifty. But, so few on the GOP side of the Isle support gay rights and so many are actively hostile that "bipartisan" w/r/t gay rights is a call word for self-delusion.

Posted by Amicus | March 24, 2007 5:02 PM

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