Did The HRC Run Louis Marinelli’s Equality Tour Off The Road?

Get this: after the National Organization for Marriage’s Facebook guy saw the light, quit NOM, and decided to start supporting marriage equality, he announced a summertime nationwide tour to support homo nuptials across the land! But then the HRC decided to kick off their summer tour the exact same week as his. Has the HRC “taken the wind out of Louis Marinelli’s sails” by holding a competing gay bus tour?

Although Steven Thrasher from the Village Voice calls the bus tours “very similar”, that’s hardly accurate. For one, Marinelli’s tour is for marriage equality and the HRC’s tour is for educating residents in anti-LGBT states on queer issues. Secondly, Marinelli’s tour wraps up early September and the HRC’s stops the day before Halloween. Lastly, the tours take completely different paths. In fact, the only cities that both tours will visit are Salt Lake City (HRC visits August 12-14 and Marinelli visits August 19th) and Atlanta (Marinelli arrives August 30th and the HRC arrives October 6th) so there’s absolutely no overlap.

Nonetheless, does Marinelli feel bitter that the potential celebrities and attention surrounding his tour might now get overshadowed by the HRC’s? In short, yes:

Marinelli said:

“By the way, nice name for the tour, HRC. ‘The Road to Equality’ has a nice ring to it and if you need a good graphic for promoting the tour, I put one on the NOME website a week or so ago to promote my marriage equality tour. See the big slide graphic for the equality tour where the flags of each state we intend to visit are? Well, right above that is where you’ll see the green highway signs on one of which is written ‘Road to Equality’. I spent a lot of time on that in Photoshop but [you] can take that, too, if you need it.”

“I understand the HRC has the manpower, resources, reputation and ability to do their tour and do it well. I won’t even contend the fact that they’re tour will likely draw more media attention and more people will likely attend their events and sign up for their newsletter and give their credit card information to a young man or woman walking around with a clipboard soliciting donations. Hey, you need money to get the job done and I fully understand that.”

For the conservative equivalent of the HRC and Marinelli’s dueling bus tours, look no further than NOM’s summer bus tour and Santorum’s Iowa Summer Tour. One is loud, the other is janky.

Apparently political road trips are all the rage this summer.

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  • Xander

    There are three inaccuracies to be pointed out here.

    1. Atlanta is *not* the only overlap on the tours, Salt Lake City is too and Nebraska was also on Louis’ orginal tour plan.

    2. What the Village Voice article you’re referencing fails to mention, but *is* mentioned in Louis’ orginal post (see, is that he had spoken with people in directorial positions at HRC about this since May already. This makes it very strange that they never mentioned the plans for *their* tour to him.

    3. The title of the HRC tour adds just one word to the one Louis had already made public; “*ON* the road to equality”. You may argue that this is the obvious name to call a tour such as this, but it still can’t be ignored.

  • jeff4justice

    I’m done donating to the mega LGBT groups that pay their executive directors 6-figure salaries, do little to foster social community, and ignore most small town/rural/suburb areas (unless they have an opportunity to be reactive to something that gets media coverage like a hate crime).

    Donate to your local grassroots activists instead. If there aren’t any, start funding them.

  • Xander

    @Xander: An important and logical addition to point 2 is that HRC must therefore have been aware of his plans for several months already.

  • Daniel Villarreal

    @Xander: Thanks for pointing out the dual visit of Salt Lake City. Nebraska is no longer on Louis’ list. However, I could not find a line in the Marinelli post you referenced saying explicitly when he spoke to the HRC and how long they knew of his plans before announcing their own tour.

    I’m trying to figure out if the HRC ever did a bus tour anytime in the past.

  • Xander

    You’re welcome, Daniel! The part where Louis mentions it in his post starts a bit above the picture of Meghan Stabler, the HRC director he first was in contact with.

  • Xander

    @Daniel Villarreal: Hm… wait, the exact date isn’t mentioned, but he writes that he mentioned it to Meghan Stabler on the day he publicly announced his tour, which was on May 27th, as can be seen here He writes that she thought it was a great idea..

  • Cam

    HRC has spent the last few years launching attacks against any group that dared to try to do anything for gay rights that they didn’t agree with.

    When Get Equal first planned the march and started to pressure Congress HRC launched attack after attack on the blogs, and now they are going after this person. No shock here. They need to keep those donations rolling in so their Exec can keep getting paid more than any Senator or Supreme Court judge….after all, it’s a difficult job to plan a black tie dinner every year.

  • Tony

    I was under the impression that the folks at the HRC thought the USA stopped at the beltway. Who knew they knew there are roads going to the rest of the country?

  • Brian Miller

    HRC hates competition and anybody who goes “off message.” This isn’t the first time they’ve launched a competing event to suck the oxygen out of the room and put down any effort that could tempt individuals to donate to someone other than them.

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  • David Hughes

    Nevermind the fact that the gay news media is not consulting any of the LOCAL ACTIVISTS or COMMUNITY-BASED GAY RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS that have been striving at these same efforts from a very local and invested perspective on the issue.
    Nevermind the fact that many of these local organizations do not receive ANY assistance from The HRC’s money trucks throughout the year, nor will they receive any assistance after the organization has come in a media firestorm and gone, leaving stringently fostered & maintained policy networks within these communities, regions, and states blown wide open.
    [Activists on the bus tour will be hosting forums and workshops, offering advice on how gay communities can empower themselves politically even on conservative turf, notably through local ordinances and initiatives.]

    You mean like in Louisville, KY where they celebrated 10 years of gay non-discrimination inclusion in the city ordinances as of 2009? You mean like in Lexington, KY where the city just elected its first openly gay mayor? The HRC has no right to come in to local communities and ‘inform’ its GLBT citizens how to think or behave. These communities are strong and active, and have achieved considerably great things given the time and resources that they possess.

    Nevermind the fact the AL, KY, & UT to name a few have NO OFFICES or STATE-LEVEL ORGANIZING on the part of the HRC.
    From LGBTWeekly
    [HRC President Joe Solmonese announced Monday that, because the U.S. is on the cusp of a “cultural tipping point”, now is the time for LGBT Americans to take the fight for fair and equal treatment into their own hands.
    “…Our job is to push the scale as far and as fast as we can toward fairness,” Solmonese said. “The tour will serve as a powerful visibility tool and support the work of creating real and lasting change in these communities.”]

    Nevermind the fact that the University of Louisville has voted to implement gender neutral housing THROUGHOUT campus.

    Nevermind that the University of Louisville is implementing gender neutral bathrooms, and that the HRC’s presence could agitate backlash in opposition to the efforts undertaken by the Kentucky Fairness Alliance and the existing network of activists, administrators, and public politicians in the region.

    No, the effort is not to draw gauche amounts of media attention on to yourself, it is to strive for social justice and equality where you can, when you can, and how you can. The reality in these communities and faced by these GLBT citizens of these communities is not that of the HRC, they are not supported in any way by the HRC, and they certainly don’t want the HRC coming in and stirring up negative publicity. QUEERTY please consult the local organizations and get the REAL STORY out about why some local, regional, or state organizations would not WANT to HRC to visit their communities and HOW this could be very damaging to the future of GLBT equality in these locations.

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