The LGBT faces a myriad of issues. Right now, the most galvanizing seems to be same-sex marriage. Opinions and emotions run high on both sides of the debate. While there have been some amazing grassroots efforts in individual states, it seems like we are powerless on the national stage. So, who is supposed to represent us? The Human Rights Campaign, whose self-proclaimed mission is “to improve the lives of LGBT Americans by advocating for equal rights and benefits in the workplace, ensuring families are treated equally under the law and increasing public support among all Americans”, per their website, www.hrc.org. The question is, are they accomplishing this goal or have they become, to quote the term from some of my friends on Twitter, “Gay Inc.”
Until very recently, I supported HRC. I first heard of them when I attended the NYC Gay Pride Parade in 2011. This was an extraordinary event in my life. It was my first Pride and it happened not 48 hours after the New York legislature passed a marriage equality law. I even heard it on the radio on the way to Jersey from the airport. It was a moment I won’t forget. The parade was equally powerful; people were jubilant as they celebrated this important victory. HRC had a tent set up after the parade. After talking to them, I was on board and became a donor. I was happy with the decision until recent events made me rethink that choice.
Before I get into that, I want to say that HRC has done a lot of good things and should be commended. First, they have produced a study of LGBT youth to document how things are for them in school. As this is a subject I take a lot of interest in, I was pleased to see this study done; here’s a link to said study (http://www.hrc.org/youth#.UHb5YVGQAZY). Also, they have donated money to the states that have marriage initiatives on the November ballots and are very outspoken about marriage equality. Third, they are big supporters of the StandUp Foundation, ex-rugby player Ben Cohen’s anti-bullying organization and are quite verbal on that issue in their own right.
Now, the question; does the good outweigh the missteps?
The first was their very sad response to the Chick-Fil-A incident. In July, Dan Cathy made very public and controversial statements regarding his views on same-sex marriage, stating he believed in the “traditional definition” and those who opposed that were “inviting God’s judgment on our nation”. The outcry from the LGBT community was immediate and very angry. From there, the press ran with it and covered it as a free speech. However, they missed the point. It’s been no secret in the LGBT community that Chick-Fil-A, through WinShape, had donated over $5 million to anti-gay groups such as Exodus International, and the Family Research Center, labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group for its slandering of the LGBT community and its attempt to interfere with a bill to condemn Uganda’s treatment of LGBT citizens. Unfortunately, that didn’t get covered and it turned into an argument about the first amendment in the media. Our supposed defenders, the HRC only made remarks on it being bad business practice (http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/chick-fil-a-anti-gay-bad-for-business) and didn’t issue any kind of statement or engage in debate over the issue. Anti-gay politician Mike Huckabee jumped at this chance and called for “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day”, a day for supporters of traditional marriage to go eat at the restaurant. Despite attempts at protest, it was a rousing success and, though Chick-Fil-A made a statement saying they would stay out of the political side, nothing changed. Chick-Fil-A: 1, HRC: 0.
The second problem is even more disturbing to me. To explain why, let me give a bit of history. I got engaged in a debate on Twitter with @GayPatriot, a gay Republican that does not support same-sex marriage, which is incongruous in my mind. His views are a reflection of the views of the Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud, two alleged gay advocate groups within the Republican Party, both of which have come out in open support of Mitt Romney. After the RNC approved a platform calling for the outlawing of same-sex marriage and even a constitutional amendment to that effect, the LGBT community voiced an understandable outrage. Chad Griffin’s remarks just stunned me: “The Log Cabin Republicans are good people doing good work”. Really, Chad? REALLY?!? It’s good work for our fellow LGBT people to turn around and stab us in the back by supporting a candidate that sees us as unequal and wants to permanently take away our rights? Republicans:1, HRC:0.
I know two events may not be enough for some, but the silence from HRC on a lot of other issues such as LGBT employment equality, among many others, has been deafening and a little frightening. Given how much money they receive in donations, we should be seeing a bit of bang for our buck. Instead, all we get is silence and political correct “footsie”. I think it’s high time we call them to task and demand they get it in gear or the LGBT community needs to pin their hopes on a group other than “Gay Inc.”.