The Human Rights Campaign, the highest profile gay rights organization in the country, has endorsed Barack Obama for President a year and a half before the election.
HRC's endorsement, which seems fairly straightforward, brings up some questions about their role in holding public figures accountable to their commitments to the gay community. Should Gay Inc. really be endorsing a candidate who has yet to make any specific promises regarding equality in his second presidency?
John Aravosis of Americablog speculates that this means we can forget any commitment from the president on marriage equality:
"While an eventual endorsement of Obama by HRC is inevitable, expected, and fine, there's a dance that's expected where both sides get something. And the expectation should be for gay rights advancements, not appearing at your dinner or giving you a job. (HRC may be the only folks in town worse at negotiating than the White House itself. ) But now that HRC has already given the President the prize he seeks, what incentive does the President, who claims he's 'evolving' on marriage, evolve before the election? He has no need to. HRC clearly hasn't learned the lessons of the first two years of the Obama presidency."
I've long been a critic of the HRC as Democratic apologists. They seem far more interested in fundraisers and getting candidates with lackluster records on gay rights elected. Even more alarming is their recent "pass" given to the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce regarding the restriction of anti-discrimination laws in local jurisdictions in that state. Long story short: Corporations like AT&T and Comcast bear responsibility for an anti-gay bill being passed through the Chamber's lobbying efforts in the TN legislature. After the bill passed, with a blow being struck to gay rights in Tennessee, the member companies got the Chamber to denounce the law.
Then, of course, Joe Solmonese congratulated them on their ground-breaking work for equality.
And why did HRC gush on about the great contributions of the member corporations who withdrew their support for the discriminatory bill after it had already passed?
Will Kohl at Back2Stonewall did a simple Google search to research the issue and discovered that fully half of those corporations have some form of contribution to HRC, to include AT&T having an award named after them-- the AT&T E-Hero Award-- at the annual HRC Fundraising Gala. Essentially, you want a glowing report from Solmonese on your "achievements" in gay rights? Write HRC a check!
I'm sorry, but I'm just not happy with Gay Inc.'s approval-- and thus, through their representation of our community, MY approval-- being purchased. That isn't advocacy nor activism, that is the privatization of our interests, and it should be stopped.