December 17, 2010 | by Kevin Naff
Should HRC’s Solmonese resign?

Blogger Pam Spaulding last week called for the resignation of Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. It’s a demand we’ll be hearing more and more if the Senate can’t manage to pass repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year.

Spaulding wrote: “Joe Solmonese should do the honorable thing and step down. It is shameful to cash all those checks without the follow through on the job. The White House was never put under serious pressure; the late calls now in the e-blasts for the President to do something ring hollow after the toadying that has gone on for two years.”

I’m sympathetic to Spaulding’s criticisms — and those of others like Andrew Sullivan — that HRC has taken in a lot of money without delivering much in the way of legislative wins. But while taking down Solmonese might temporarily placate those frustrated with the slow pace of progress, it wouldn’t change much in terms of the LGBT movement.

Why? Because the problem is much deeper than one person or one organization. The real culprit: entrusting our rights to a single political party. The decision to align the LGBT movement with the Democratic Party has proven a disaster for equality. We see proof of that fact all around: from Harry Reid’s inability to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to an endless list of Democrats happy to take gay money and deliver nothing in return.

Putting our eggs solely in the Democratic basket demeans our fight for justice. It sends a message that our equality is a partisan issue, rather than a true civil rights struggle. HRC is partly to blame for the current sad state of affairs in which a Congress with overwhelming Democratic majorities can’t schedule a hearing on ENDA, but it is not alone. LGBT voters who continually support Democrats without holding them accountable for their promises share in the blame. We’ve trained the Democrats that they don’t have to earn our support — they’ll get it automatically because the Republicans are allegedly so much worse.

Consider, however, that nearly 80 percent of Americans support repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was introduced in 1974 and it becomes clear that LGBT voters have been had.

The solution? We must extricate ourselves from the Democrats’ back pocket and work to unseat the hypocrites who take our support for granted. It means taking a stand and being willing to sacrifice short-term political gain for long-term progress. If Democrats lose a few close races in part because gay donors closed their pocketbooks and gay voters stayed home or supported a third-party candidate, the party might start taking us seriously.

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

5 Comments
  • Right, gays are in the Dems pocket. The Republicans are “allegedy” so much worse. Has Kevin Neff been paying attention? Hate crimes was pased with a Democratic Congress and President. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs advocated for DADT repeal under a Democratic administration. And from where are MOST of the votes to repeal DADT coming: Democrats. Without the need for a cloture vote, a Democratic Senate would have already passed this. And it wasn’t like nothing was happening in Congress. The battle for health care stalled a lot of the legislative agenda. Oh and the presidential candidate of what party is against DADT even after the military study: Republican John McCain. The Dems are not perfect, but the political process isn’t perfect. The assertion that Dems take gays for granted given all of the issues before this administration and congress is nonsense.

  • HRC called tonight asking me for money, I politely said I would never give money to HRC again but that I do support GetEqual.

  • Given the choice between HRC and the cabal of unaccountable billionaires buying up our movement – one org and one blogger at a time- I’ll pick HRC. I see what they have achieved and when they screw up I know where to call. But the handful of major fiunders and their shadowy operatives …they claim credit but never step up to take the blame when they screw up. They own half the local, state and national groups. I’m glad HRC is big enough not to be shoved around by them.

  • hrc Ffailed in only one way – they didn’t exist at the end of the civil war as the party in power in the north. If they had and had done the job needed to be done, every last rotten southern baptist slaver preacher and their small town sherrif pals would have gotten their due after a trial by a nurenmberg court ca 1865,

    And we wouldn’t have these redneck idiots and their jesus freaking ministers to deal with 150 years later.

    Its happened, DADT is most likely all but dead, though its going to take some period of time to implement it. certainly any discharges should be stopped, and reinstatement of those already discharged, with their rank +1 implemented poste haste. The mess is going to be about Doma type issues, for partenred and married gay couples. Which btw is just anotehr driver of marriage equality.

  • HRC is not only not producing on a national level, it’s existence stiffles the ability of local and state level organizations to marshall the resources needed to mount effective campaigns for equality where it really counts. So-called HRC “local” groups mimic the national organization’s high profile image with monthly events and fundraisers, and the obligatory “A-gay” oriented big ticket annual dinner, Everyone involved appears to feel good about what they’re doing, but very little political action ever takes place and no real progress ever seems to be made. Another negative by product of this corporatization of the GLBT equality movement by HRC has been that younger gay men and Lesbians have virtually no personal involvement in it, taking for granted that the fight should be left to “professionals.”

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