Sanders campaign spokesperson Michael Briggs spoke with The Washington Blade after the announcement, and he had some strong words for both Hillary Clinton and the HRC:
“It’s understandable and consistent with the establishment organizations voting for the establishment candidate, but it’s an endorsement that cannot possibly be based on the facts and the record.”
Or, in other words:
After this, Hillary Clinton responded directly on Twitter:
So, about that “establishment” thing:
The HRC has long been accused of catering to wealthy white gays at the expense of other members of the community. After years of the notorious Executive Director Joe Solmonese and his penchant for designer suits (and a $350k annual salary), newish ED Chad Griffin apologized to the trans community in a gesture to leave the elitist tag in the past, but problems persist.
Last summer, an internal report emerged that painted HRC as a “white men’s club” that was sexist, exclusionary, and homogenous. Their galas, which are long on celebrity appearances but short on much substance, don’t do much to change that perception.
“So who knows what prompted the Human Rights Campaign to do what it does — I have trouble myself figuring why they do some of the things they do over the years — but I think the gay men and lesbians all over the country will know who has been their champion for a long, long time and will consider that as they make up their mind on support for his campaign.”
Shortly after being pressed by the Blade over the omission of bi, trans and questioning people, he assured them that he meant “LGBTQ people all over the country” will consider Sanders. He also added that Sanders voted against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” back in 1993 and against DOMA (Defense Of Marriage Act) in 1996. What Briggs didn’t add (but we will) is that both discriminatory laws were signed under President Bill Clinton.
The timing of HRC’s endorsement is curious. The last time Hillary Clinton was in a dogfight with another Democratic candidate for the nomination, they waited until June to make an endorsement (which went to President Obama).
Perhaps the organization was swayed by the speech she gave to the group last October, though both candidates answered positively to every action HRC proposed in a questionnaire that was sent to both campaigns.
HRC spokesperson Brandon Lorenz provided the Blade with a statement with their reasoning behind the endorsement:
“There are certainly several friends of equality in this race, but the 32 community leaders who comprise HRC’s Board of Directors have unanimously decided that Hillary Clinton is the champion we need to fight for us each day on the campaign trail and every day in the White House. She has a strong record, a strong agenda, and a strong ability to win against any Republican running on an anti-LGBT platform in November and lead from Day One.”
By the way, that statement came from The Human Rights Campaign, not the Hillary Clinton campaign, although that last sentence sounds like it was ripped right out of a “Ready For Hillary” handbook.
We doubt this will do anything about Clinton’s dwindling leads in Iowa and New Hampshire, but it’ll make for a few days of good press for a campaign that desperately needs it. However, if Sanders finds his way to the Democratic nomination, HRC will look even more out of touch than usual.
And that’s saying something.