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.