There was no press coverage of this speech, and HRC kept it very hush-hush, which is weird, defensive, suspicious - but that's HRC, sucking money out of gay pockets to finance an insider, velvet-rope elite of D.C. hacks. But the speech is significant in one respect, it seems to me. HRC, the organization, is now fully integrated into HRC, the campaign. It is the Clinton campaign. Clinton calls HRC's executive director, Joe Solmonese a "colleague." She talks of a future "relationship" with HRC in a Clinton administration: "You will have an open door to the White House". Among HRC's victories, she cites the 2006 election turn-out campaign ... for the Democrats.
To her credit, she forthrightly backs gay adoption. And she backs ENDA and hate crimes. But no mention of marriage. She's against it. She also makes no commitment to passing ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) or hate-crimes laws in the current Congress. That's also significant. I have a feeling that they've run the numbers (that's what HRC does when it's not fund-raising for the Dems), figure that employment discrimination could actually be the first gay wedge issue to work against Republicans, and are going to hold off to use it in the presidential campaign. What matters is what's in the best interest of the Clintons and the Democrats. It's 1992 all over again . . .
The highly respected GLBT blogger Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend chimed in on Sullivans's comments. Spaulding observes how quickly HRC was in putting out a press release saying it had not endorsed Clinton, although Sen. Clinton referred to Solmonese as "her good friend and colleague" and announced Board of Governors member Mark Walsh had formally joined her campaign. "I suppose this was a pre-emptive strike to allay fears that the organization is already in her pocket," Spaulding mused. Spaulding then lets it all hang out about how she feels about HRC's leadership:
All the cheering and glad handing and back patting is simply too much. She compliments Joe Solomonese and calls him a colleague and a friend and says "what a smart, steadfast strategic leader HRC has; someone who understands how to get where we need to go." Sigh.And when it comes to the presidential candidates, nobody has been keeping closer tabs on where the candidates stand on GLBT issues than Spaulding. And for the record, Sen. Clinton's is about as weak as they come among the current crop of contenders for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. For that matter, the leading GOP contender, former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani, can boast of a better record of support for GLBT rights than Sen. Clinton.
I've spoken to Joe, and I don't doubt that he has the best interests of the community at heart, I simply think he and most of HRC's leadership still haven't a clue about what it's like to be gay outside the major blue metro areas of the country, and has any idea how HRC is perceived outside the Beltway.
Doing the necessary work on the Hill to move LGBT-positive legislation forward doesn't mean being invisible to gay folks in non-urban areas of the country. We've watched marriage amendments slide in little or no visible opposition, creating all sorts of real obstacles to gay families that will not be able to be overcome for years. Even the one victory, in Arizona, where a state amendment was defeated, national advocacy organizations were MIA.
While HRC is throwing galas and pole stroking, 72-year old Andrew Anthos was beaten to death with a pipe in Detroit, amendments are resulting in bills to ban couple benefits in Kentucky and efforts to repeal benefits won by gay couples in Michigan, and a host of other legal morasses and outright violence that affects gay folks in the hinterlands on a daily basis. As long as HRC is the go-to org for the MSM, it has to be held accountable when it goes off the rails, or it fails to represent us accurately or truly advocate for LGBT equality when it becomes too partisan to be fully effective.
Both Spaulding and Sullivan are correct in their criticism of HRC. It really galls me, in particular, that Solmonese heaps so much credit on the defeat of the FMA last year to Sen. Clinton. Remember, Republicans were still in control of the Senate last year. There were more than a few GOP senators who aided in that effort to defeat the FMA. But to hear Solmonese describe it, the credit belonged to the Democrats and, especially, to Sen. Clinton. As for Sen. Clinton, she has a lot of nerve telling the HRC audience that she had "worked in a lot of battles with the folks in the audience over time." She had to be referring to election campaigns to elect Democrats to office because she has yet to take up a battle for the GLBT community. She did, however, stand four-square behind her husband's decision to enact the only two federal laws enacted in our nation's history which specifically discriminate against gays and lesbians.