the little people

Did HRC Forget Its Boycott of Arizona Might Harm Gay Arizonans?

The Greater Phoenix Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce isn’t so pleased with the calls for a boycott of Arizona over its ridiculous immigration law. Namely, because they’re being made by national queer groups Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, who evidently forgot that gay persons still live, work, and run businesses in the state, and a boycott could potentially upend their livelihood.

Just how living are members of the Phoenix business consortium? Enough that they found to be the only outlet for their frustration, and that’s saying something. HRC, for its part, revised its original position — the organization has a history of making grand pronouncements and then retracting them — to say its boycott support only pertains to conferences and meetings planned in the state.

“They haven’t even read SB 1070. … They don’t even really know what’s going on around here,” Joseph Gesullo, chairman of the Phoenix gay chamber, said of the organizations calling for boycotts. “It’s really just hurting the people of Arizona.” Gesullo told on Tuesday that the groups are “grandstanding.” The Human Rights Campaign and National Gay and Lesbian Chamber were joined by 21 groups in announcing a boycott several weeks ago.

Gesullo said the national chamber has since shown a willingness to reach a compromise. Indeed, the group sent a letter to the Phoenix chamber June 16 expressing support for Arizona businesses. But Gesullo said the Human Rights Campaign has “absolutely” resisted requests to tone down the boycott. He accused the group of kowtowing to Latino advocacy groups as well as the Service Employees International Union and expressed concern that the move would discourage gay and lesbian couples from visiting Arizona. That, in turn, hurts the hundreds of Phoenix businesses that count themselves as chamber members, he said.

So what’s HRC’s response? Enter the org’s crisis manager Fred Sainz:

Referring to a conference call held two weeks ago during which Gesullo tried to convince the other groups to drop their boycotts, Sainz suggested that the Phoenix chamber was making the problem worse by talking about it. “My counsel to them was if you want to draw attention to it, they should speak to the media,” he said. “I’m like, the best thing you can do is say nothing in that situation, and they clearly didn’t agree.” He denied that the Human Rights Campaign launched the boycott just because the SEIU wanted it, but said there’s nothing wrong with working as a “coalition.” He said there’s a strong connection between those who support Arizona’s immigration law and those “who would bring similar harm” to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

That’s right, local gays: Shut up and stop interfering with HRC’s national effort. What do you think HRC is, a transparent organization that cares about people on the ground or something?