HRC: Here’s Hoping, Again

by Stephen H. Miller on March 2, 2012

Chad Griffin, newly named head of the Human Rights Campaign is, like his predecessor Joe Solmonese, a Democratic partisan with close ties to the Obama administration. But perhaps unlike Solmonese, who departs to join the Obama reelection effort, he seems more willing to work with Republicans (something you sensed Solmonese felt was anathema) and to be critical of the administration (again, something that seemed anathema for Solmonese). From The Advocate:

Griffin, 38, is a fervent supporter of President Obama with personal ties to White House officials, but … Griffin has been openly critical of the president’s evolving position on marriage equality, calling Obama’s indicated support for states’ rights on deciding who can marry “a step backwards.”

NARAL and Planned Parenthood pressed Obama to force Catholic-affiliated institutions to buy abortion-inducing drugs for employees. The environmental lobby got Obama to block a jobs- and energy-gushing pipeline and to lavish federal funding on corrupt “green” boondoogles. Meanwhile, HRC took a back seat to the Log Cabin Republicans on pushing for “don’t ask” repeal and sits back while Obama “evolves” ever so slowly on marriage equality. Will any of this change? We’ll see.

More. The Washington Blade concurs:

“The incoming HRC president also comes into the role as many critics contend HRC has been too cozy with the Obama administration and too afraid to criticize Democratic lawmakers.”

You think? Recall that Democrats were in charge of the House, Senate (with a supermajority) and presidency, and ENDA never moved out of committee. Why spend political capital when the nation’s largest LGBT lobby views its mission as promoting the party.

{ 14 comments }

Houndentenor March 3, 2012 at 11:01 am

I haven’t belonged to HRC since 1998. I wrote them and told them why I was leaving and they responded with a letter telling me why I was wrong on every point. It’s an ineffective inside-the-beltway lobbying group which so far as anyone can tell accomplished nothing but throwing lavish parties and paying high salaries to a few key people. I don’t know why homocons keep harping on HRC. It’s useless. Don’t expect much on them because based on their history they are unlikely to accomplish anything.

As critical as I am of Log Cabin, you are right that they led the fight to overturn DADT. The repeal was forced by independent gay activists. HRC provided no leadership at all on the issue. They never had before, so that came as no surprise.

Doug March 3, 2012 at 11:44 am

I’m no fan of HRC. How many Republican votes to repeal DADT did Log Cabin bring to the table?

another steve March 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm

More than anyone expected — 8 Republican senators and 15 House members — and really, you couldn’t look that up yourself?

But the larger point is that Log Cabin’s lawsuit forced Congress to act (or face a judicial ruling throwing out the ban). Reid and Obama were content to sit on the issue rather than risk political capital, unlike (as Miller notes) their kowtowing to the pro-abortion lobby, the green lobby, the unions, etc.

Mark March 3, 2012 at 10:20 pm

I agree completely with Stephen’s analysis of the uselessness of HRC, and I also agree that Log Cabin deserves enormous praise for their work in the DADT lawsuit. They also, however, deserve strong criticism for their decision to endorse Rep. Patrick Murphy’s challenger, given all Murphy had done to advance equality.

I was most interested in this post’s breaking some news–that “NARAL and Planned Parenthood pressed Obama to force Catholic-affiliated institutions to buy abortion-inducing drugs for employees.” I’ve read about Obama accepting the recommendation of the Institute of Medicine to mandate contraception coverage, but I hadn’t read about NARAL or Planned Parenthood successfully pressuring the administration to require coverage of “abortion-inducing drugs.” I wanted to read some more about this important new revelation, and so was surprised to see the post contained no link to substantiate the charge.

RC March 3, 2012 at 11:44 pm

HHS Mandate for Contraceptive and Abortifacient Drugs
http://www.usccb.org/news/2011/11-154.cfm

NARAL Pro-Choice America Calls on Congress to Back Off Attacks on Insurance Coverage of Birth Control
http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/media/press-releases/2012/pr02082012_win-for-women.html

Mark March 4, 2012 at 11:46 am

I didn’t realize that IGF commenters were now in the habit of turning to the Conference of Catholic Bishops(!) for guidance on scientific matters. Will this elevation of the Bishops’ scientific insights apply to gay and lesbian issues as well?

And the post asserted, as fact, that Planned Parenthood and NARAL pressed Obama (and, presumably, the Institute of Medicine). The item to which you linked deals with NARAL’s after-the-fact reaction, calling on Congress to back off. That NARAL was a supporter of the policy is hardly a surprise, but also irrelevant to the point that the original post made.

Jorge March 5, 2012 at 8:27 am

Not reading RC’s links, but if you don’t know that the Catholic Church believes life begins at conception, that the “morning after pill” can terminate a pregnancy that occurs between implantation and fertilization, and that the Catholic Church therefore considers it abortion, then that is still something that the Obama administration knows or should know.

It is true that the previous policy did not mandate coverage of RU-486. However I have read some sites claiming it mandated coverage of a drug that was medically identical though not yet approved for causing abortions.

Mark March 5, 2012 at 9:01 am

I’m quite aware of the official position of the Catholic Church. But the post spoke of “abortion-inducing drugs,” not “what the Catholic Church leadership (but virtually no one in the scientific community) considers to be abortion-inducing drugs.” These are two quite different points: the first is a simple statement of fact, the second an acknowledged position of a group which can’t seem to command the loyalty of its flock and which is well-known for its virulent opposition to gay rights.

Perhaps Stephen (and RC) consider the Conference of Bishops to be the voice of truth on matters relating to human sexuality, and if the Conference says something (in this case, that morning-after pills constitute “abortion-inducing drugs”) it must be presented as the truth, at least if what it says can be presented as an attack on Obama.

I fully agree with the thrust of this post–that the HRC has been wholly ineffective, and that its partisanship in part explains this. But to make that point by presenting the scientific conclusions of the Bishops as accepted fact (and to posit, again as incontrovertible fact, NARAL/PP influence on the Inst. of Medicine) strikes me as a very unusual tactical choice.

TomJeffersonIII March 4, 2012 at 8:26 am

1. I doubt very much that had McCain been in the White House and a Republican majority in the House and the Senate, the lawsuit against DODT (many have been done against the anti-gay ban, I reading a book on this), would have led to much in terms of an actual policy change. Yeah, its great that a handful of Republicans supported the bill and if Democrats voted against it, that is stupid. However, I doubt that had the situation been different in the White House or Congress, that the repeal would become the law.

2. We need a professional and well funded organization that can effectively lobby (with anyone who holds a federal seat) at the federal level for gay rights. I am not suggesting that the HRC fits the bill, but the Log Cabin Republicans sure as heck dont either.
I hear the HRC parties are a lot of fun to go to, in comparison to LCR parties.

ShadowChaser March 4, 2012 at 11:55 am

I have always believed that HRC needs Democratic and Republican co-chairs, like the National League of Cities or the National Governors’ Conference.

I am a center-left Democrat. I can also count to 50 percent-plus-one. I know many Democrats who are economically liberal but socially conservative (aka Reagan Democrats), who for whatever reason won’t support gay rights in the US Congress, state legislatures, county commissions and/or municipal councils.

I realize to get to the 50 percent-plus-one mark, most votes require the support of Republicans. Do I expect Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney to be one of those Republicans supporting gay rights … hardly. However I believe there still some economically conservative and socially liberal members of the GOP — they used to be called Rockefeller Republicans — out there who would vote for gay rights. It is of paramount importance politically active supporters of gay rights to reach out and win over such Republicans. A highly visible gay Republican would fit the bill nicely … a certain lame duck Congressman would be perfect when he is ready to acknowledge publicly his sexual orientation.

In addition, gay rights supporters must reach out and get the support of independents who have either left one of the two major political parties or who have never been affiliated with either political party.

Also, political activists should engage the politically apathetic, people who have dropped out of the political system. Look what President Obama did in 2008 to energize the politically disengaged.

TomJeffersonIII March 8, 2012 at 5:00 pm

This seems look a pretty good idea; ‘I have always believed that HRC needs Democratic and Republican co-chairs, like the National League of Cities or the National Governors’ Conference.’

Although why not also include members of the nation’s third parties? After all, we would not want to exclude anyone or seem too overtly partisan, right?

Houndentenor March 11, 2012 at 9:49 pm

“Recall that Democrats were in charge of the House, Senate (with a supermajority) and presidency, and ENDA never moved out of committee. Why spend political capital when the nation’s largest LGBT lobby views its mission as promoting the party.”

What political capital? They repealed DADT. ENDA got tied up in the politics of including transgendered people in the bill. (That’s another topic for another day, but that’s what sunk the bill.) But do you think we could have gotten DADT repealed with a Republican controlled Congress? Yes, the Democrats are slow and disappointing but at least when they were in the majority we were making progress. We certainly have no chance of passing ENDA or the DOMA repeal with Republican majorities or a Republican president. None.

TomJeffersonIII March 14, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Yeah, what I heard was that ENDA was not going to go anywhere if it included ‘gender identity’, but it had probably had a decent shot of passing if it was only about ‘sexual orientation’.

Again, ‘Blue Dog’ type Democrats in more conservative Districts or States might have had some ‘objections’, but liberal and centrist Democrats seemed willing to support ENDA, but not if it dealt with gender identity.

Frankly, I think that civil rights issues tend to happen slowly and in pieces, so if all we can get today is sexual orientation, then we get it and fight like heck for gender identity tomorrow.

Notice that ENDA does not really add sexual orientation to the Federal Civil Rights law, so it does not really address discrimination in say, banking or housing or education. Although, their is another bill floating around on anti-harassment/student rights.

I am sorry, but I really do not see a Republican President and a Republican majority in Congress having much interest in advancing gay rights legislation. I have no problem working to change that and building broad based coalitions across party lines (Democrats, GOP, Independents, Greens, Libertarians) .

TomJeffersonIII March 14, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Again, I do know younger Republicans (gay and straight) who support gay rights and would probably do so if they got elected to Federal office. But the immediate challenge seems to be the hurdles that they face internally.

A couple of gay and bisexual male Republicans I know wanted to run for office (mostly State, given their age) but the fact that they were gay and or supported gay rights pretty much killed any chances of getting endorsed by the GOP . I hear its worse at the federal level.

So, one think that might make a difference is getting more ‘socially liberal’ Republicans to run for office, especially at the Federal level.
It might help the party if more younger Republicans starting running at the State and Federal level and being pro-gay rights.

Their is a gay Republican running for President and he seems to have many good, practical ideas.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: