Do Our Gay Leaders Have to Go?

In a post that will surely upset the “We must not be divisive!” crowd, Andrew Sullivan questions the continued value of the Human Rights Campaign, noting that not only is there almost no information about last weekend’s protests on their site, but also:

“In the two decades of serious struggle for marriage equality, the Human Rights Campaign has been mostly absent, and when present, often passive or reactive. Here’s a simple statistic that might help shake us out of complacency: HRC claims to have spent $3.4 million on No On 8. The Mormon church was able to spend over $20 million, by appealing to its members. Why are non-gay Mormons more capable of organizing and fund-raising on a gay rights measure than the biggest national gay rights group?”

It’s not a dumb question.

Now, taking pot shots at the Human Rights Campaign a popular pastime among pretty much every gay political pundit (Queerty included), but the passage of Prop 8. may be seen as a tipping point, with more and more voices questioning the various gay organizations that are commonly seen as “gay leadership.” As Sully puts it:

“It’s time gay people realized that this group is often part of the problem, and rarely part of the solution. It needs to be swept clean of its deadwood, overhauled, or if it persists in its ways, defunded. When we are in a civil rights movement and the biggest organization is essentially a passive observer and excuse-maker, it’s time to demand better.”

One of the common rejoinders being made by gay leaders is that Prop 8. passed “for one reason and one reason only, people were lied to [by the Yes on 8 campaign]”, as L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center CEO Lori Jean told the Los Angeles protest on Saturday. And while it’s true that the Yes on 8 campaign made false accusations about the meaning of same-sex marriage, political campaigns are a zero-sum games. Just as we would not give any credit to the Mormon Church if the Prop. had failed, we can’t place all the blame on our opponents now that it has passed.

The reality is, we got beat and we need to take responsibility for that defeat. As P.R. exec Simon Halls said last week:

“Pure and simple, they beat us at the marketing game. If we learned anything from President-elect Obama’s brilliant and victorious campaign, it’s all about your efforts on the ground. The new president and his team organized at the grassroots level. They honed a clear and focused message and they were incredibly disciplined.”

The No on 8 campaign put all their money into TV ads (many of which did not even mention that Prop. 8 was about gay marriage) and into phone banking. During the campaign Julie Davis, Northern California campaign director for No on 8 made fun of the Yes on 8’s on-the-ground approach which she described as “randomly knocking on doors”. After they won, what did the Yes on 8 people credit their win to? You guessed it:

“We thought it would go this way,” Proposition 8 co-chair Frank Schubert said. “We had 100,000 people on the streets today. We had people in every precinct, if not knocking on doors, then phoning voters in every precinct. We canvassed the entire state of California, one on one, asking people face to face how do they feel about this issue.

“And this is the kind of issue people are very personal and private about, and they don’t like talking to pollsters, they don’t like talking to the media, but we had a pretty good idea how they felt and that’s being reflected in the vote count.”

In our struggle to change the mind’s of others, we may have to change our own. The grassroots, “everyone has a voice”, web-centric nature of the campaign that started after Prop. 8 passed is a direct response to the hierarchical, “here’s the plan, get on board or go away”, “shout from our bubble” effort that preceded it.

Madness is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different response. It’s clear that the strategy (or lack thereof) of the HRC and No on 8. campaign did not work. Saying it’s because the bad guys are liars and cheats gets us nowhere. Asking “Who are we?”, “What do we want?” and “How do we get there?” does.

To the people who feel that questioning our gay leaders will only make us more divided, I point to our defeat and ask, “What makes you think we were ever united?”

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  • Ethan

    Andrew Sullivan has and always will be a putz…

  • Ethan

    putz   /pʌts/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [puhts]

    –noun Slang. 1. fool; jerk.
    2. Vulgar. penis

  • ChicagoJimmy

    Ethan is correct. Andrew Sullivan is one of the “leaders” in our community we should all feel free to ignore. He simply carried too much water for the Bush administration for far too long. He’s just lost all credibility.

    In the end, he is a neo-con, right wing religious zealot who happens to be happens to be gay enough to believe in gay marriage.

  • Joe Moag

    Sullivan has it correct. I wrote a post about this on, asking who are the clowns that were in charge of the Vote No. Thanks, Japhy, at least I am getting a clearer picture now.

    And yes, it is always, always correct to look inside of our efforts to see what goes right and what goes wrong. One of the growing blogotopics for the month is “What is the GOP going to do with itself now that it can’t win anything?” I don’t hear anyone saying that this is a disunifying question… It’s what you do. And, if the LGBT “Leadership that Be” can’t handle the question, maybe it’s because they know – and fear – the answer.

  • Eric

    HRC was asked by the No on 8 people to not be very visible and keep a low profile. They felt that having a national symbol would be detrimental to the “local” cause. HRC did a lot behind the scenes. It turns out from the responses I have received, as well as other HRC members, is “Where was HRC during this?” So it seems that people wanted to HRC to be more visible. I agree, but HRC was not running this campaign. And the $3.4 Million raised from HRC was donations made to the HRC Marriage PAC, not a cumulation of HRC members which I think totals an additional $10-12 Million.

  • ksu499

    Just because Andrew Sullivan says something does not mean that it is wrong.

  • CitizenGeek

    I do like Andrew Sullivan and I am a big fan of his blog. But he does have this bizarre, almost surreal hatred for the Clintons and the HRC. The HRC doesn’t have anywhere near as many members as the Mormon church, yet he stills thinks it’s valid to criticise them for not raising as much as the LDS? And there was one stage when he made the ridiculous claim that Bill Clinton was campaigning against Obama at one stage. Both of these hatreds seems entirely baseless and I wish he would just let them go.

    Also, I can never get beyond how much of a brazen hypocrite he has been. While he was looking down at the admittedly oversexed San Francisco gay culture and berating those who engage in it, he was posting sleazy sex propositions on the internet for bareback sex (even though he has HIV). I think such hypocrisy is, frankly, unforgivable.

  • Ethan

    I think that calling the people that were in charge of No on 8 clowns is kinda pathetic. While certainly we lost, they did do a pretty good job of changing the margins from 2000. While they’re could have been some changes I agree, but to totaly disregard them because we lost is not very wise.

    I know we are all dissapointed, but there seems to be rush to pin blame on one group or another. First it was the Black vote then the Minority vote, the the “No” campaign. I believe we need to take a broader look and not try to blame, but acess and move on quickly from here.

    Also HRC may have had missteps, but in this new Administration they are perfectly poised to help make momentous changes…I think we should be excited about the possiblities and not tearing down our own…


  • Paul

    The HRC is largely ineffective. Give your money to Lambda Legal if you want to support a gay organization. Or the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

    Those people know what they’re doing. (And, no, although I’m an attorney, I do not work for either.)

  • Othniel

    @ Paul

    Very Well Put. Also the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund is Very effective. They helped elect a Lesbian to the Austin City Council this year – and she took the lead on a big community issue (tax subsidies) when no other member had the political courage to do so. This is how we get allies.

    We cannot gain anything from the closet. Andrew is very right on this. JMG backs him up as well.

  • Jon

    While I think Sullivan is an idiot, I think there are also a bunch of idiots at HRC. The HRC has taken the wait and see approach as gay rights have been trampled on in state after state. Where was the mobilization? They don’t have to take the driver’s seat, but they can at least do something. Regardless, Joe has got to go!

  • Jaroslaw

    Whether or not you like HRC isn’t the question. It cannot be emphasized enough that the YES ON 8 folks lied through their teeth. There just isn’t a neat little comeback soundbite to stuff like “Adam and Eve” not “Adam & Steve”.

    It can’t be underestimated what people will do when the seeds of doubt and fear are planted.

    This is what the Yes on 8 folks did. Does that mean NO folks were flawless or couldn’t have done better? Of course not. to echo another poster, HRC doesn’t have nearly the amount of members or money that LDS has.

  • ask ena


    This points out some of the perhaps fatal errors the “No on 8 people” (whomever they are, exactly, I’m still not sure…seems mostly an anti-war group has been behind most of the marches since…) made trying to coalesce against the Yes on 8 lies. It seems lots of bad calls were made, at the very core of the pre-election effort. See this interesting article in the LA Weekly:

    One thing for sure though. Now that prop 8 has passed, I have a funny feeling we are going to be less and less satisfied with baby steps and compromises. To have our rights willfully revoked by what is essentially a fanatical zealot majority just does not cut it.

  • matt

    couldn’t agree more with Andrew’s thoughts on the HRC – our rights are going to be fought and earned on the streets and not in an office building. The monies that the HRC makes shouldn’t go to fancy dinners and galas but for grassroots advocacy. Milk would be disgusted to find out that the HRC is selling merchandise with his image but taking a backseat to the grassroots efforts…

  • Wolf

    Even though it’s Andrew Sullivan. In a way (shudder) I must agree. But thats only because the HRC has become a HIGHLY ineffectual lazy group thats relying on th same methods they have used for many years which have not been all that effective. Despite some minor Vivtories this last 20 Years compared to the 20 years before that the gay righst Movement has had very little gain and in actuallity LOST standing and presence. Partly due to the HRC and its “laid back” way of doing things.

    Despite The “No on Prop 8” wanting them to keep a low profile. Which sounds absurb really. Since the passage the HRC should be making the most noise. And its not. They’ve issued some statements compared to a grassroots internet campaign that threw together a massive countrywide protest in 4 Days.

    The problem with the HRC is basically they’ve losy there balls and they have become too big and corporate. Activism is hard when its surrounded by office politics and red tape.

  • PJ

    It is refreshing to know that there are some people willing to accept some of the blame for ourselves. Whether or not HRC was instrumental in the No on 8 campaign is irrelevant. HRC has been getting more and more lax in their political activism lately and that is a problem. They are well enough paid through donations that they can be doing a little more for gay equality and equal rights. HRC does need a change in leadership and a change in philosophy. Just my two pennies.

  • Johnny Underscore

    The HRC has represented the LGBT orthodoxy for too long. It’s time for some competition. So Andrew Sullivan is a bit on the right. Big deal – if gays and lesbians are to have full equality we NEED the reasonable right on our side.

  • Bob

    Sullivan is indeed a putz, but he’s right on the mark this time. HRC became irrelevant when it started backing Republicans and refused to fund challenges by OPENLY GAY Democrats. Pathetic. And the No on 8 campaign was hopelessly mismanaged. I’m not a fan of Sullivan, but he is 100% on the mark this time.

  • Mark

    My partner and I give generously to Lambda Legal and HRC. Both do work from two ends of the spectrum. One works in the courtroom. The other works on legislation. They both have merit and both are absolutely needed in the community. Don’t blame either of THOSE orgs for the absolute lies the Mormon church put forth.

    The Mormon church is a cult. Plain and simple. Since they are a cult and because they are religious in nature, their foundational principles are based on LIES. LIES. Let me say it again another way L.I.E.S. Total and complete.

    Look it up. Every religion on the planet was founded by individuals who were either psychotic, charlatans or zealots. In the case of the Mormon church it was a charlatan. The history of the founding of the church is well-documented fraud. Thus, since the foundation, premise and first principle of the church was founded on a LIE, it stands to reason that this issue would be fronted by total and complete lies.

    Sullivan has never been a friend of HRC. He was, on the other hand, asked to speak to HRC several years back in DC. I attended that breakfast speech and it was conciliatory in tone and surprisingly refreshing, coming from him. Yet blame for the lose on this issue can’t be placed on HRC. It must be placed squarely on the church. Where it belongs.

    Just because we elected the first black President doesn’t mean everything is rosy now. What happened directly after he was elected? Gun purchases went up astronomically in one state. In SC, a priest said no communion to Obama voters. Rush Limbaugh blamed the economic downturn on the Prez-elect. What happened to Hattie Dillon just the other day? Etc. All of that originates from RELIGIOUS people. All of it. Without exception. Even Rush’s lie is aimed squarely at religious people. He knows they are troubled by reality. He exploits that, even tho he hasn’t a religious bone in his body.

    Stop blaming the orgs that are fighting against a HUGE tide. The tide of religious whackos is perpetual. We have to fight them ALL THE TIME. The real problem is that there are hundreds of millions of fire and brimstone religious zealots LYING their a**es off about us. And how many of US are there? Not as many as there are of THEM.

    Support the orgs that fight for you. Give more. Don’t turn away from them.

  • Jason

    I gave up on the HRC about four years ago, after they wanted to capitulate to Social Security privatization, which was a bizarre out of hand move. They’re kind of a relic and have long wanted to stay out of the gay marriage issue because they felt that we needed to wait a lot longer for the country to get to the right place.

  • Al Benson

    Andrew is a putz and has been right only twice in his life, but this is one of those times.

    The HRC and other ‘leaders’ like Lori Jean of the LA gay and lesbian Center had people distributing leaflets in West Hollywood rather then engaging the demographics we knew were leaning against us.

    The new leadership is there now, the young people ho organized the demonstrations and were out on the front lines day after day from from election day to yesterday.

    Unfortunately the professional gay bureaucrats will not just walk away from their jobs like they walked away from this fight.

    It’s time for them to go for bring abject failures. I for one will never give another dime to these organizations until there is a new and capable leadership.

  • MatthewCA27

    Is the HRC still relevant? Yes. I think it needs to evolve. At this time as the republican party questions itself, and we get to watch on the sidelines at all the infighting, it is also a time to really look at this supposed structure of the gay organizations. All of them.
    I was broken by Prop 8 passing. I am furious at these opponents and their lies, but that was expected. Wasn’t it? Where were our counter moves? This politics, not a fucking tea party.
    This is a time to reflect on what needs to change, and if it means cutting off the heads in order for something better to sprout, so be it. Are we in it to win, or what? If that means hiring former enemies to form new strategies, why wouldn’t we.
    As the GLBT community we sure do seem complacent and a bit snobby, even though we should be offering ourselves with some more humiltiy.
    It really struck a chord with me that only after defeat did everyone have the ability to form a cohesive, unified voice. Is it only then that we can rise up? Do we need to be perpetual victims facing down oppressors to feel good? We had it in California, and our own complacency is what ultimately what ruined it for us.
    Yes these organizations still serve a function, but They need to evolve to what is needed today. If they are unable to step to the jobs that they are designed to do let them die a quick unfunded death.

  • John

    I agree. The HRC is very good at filling our inboxes and mail boxes with junk and asking for more money. But thats about it!

  • mark

    Sullivan calling HRC useless
    ain’t that the pot calling the kettle MAUVE.

    If we are going to revamp the LEFT, the RIGHT needs to clean out their nest of closeted f*cks (who stand on our throats)…Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Ken Mehlman, Karl Rove, Condi Rice, Charlie Crist.Filthy Vichy queers, they give KAPO a bad name.

  • Anthony in Nashville

    The aftermath of Prop 8 has provided an opportunity for a new type of organizing that has more of a grass-roots edge than the “donate and dine” variety utilized by HRC.

    I believe a variety of methods should be used. There is still a place for the HRC style of activism. But for activities requiring an immediate response, perhaps new organization can take the lead.

  • Jon B

    HRC is basically a lobbying organization. They raise money, and they try to fight for gay rights through back channels. What are we even arguing about here? Hello? If you’re going to argue that we should look at the grassroots success of the Obama campaign, we should also look at the traditional aspects of the Obama campaign. Our problem for too long has been that we’ve had the large lobbying organizations (i.e. HRC) but we haven’t had the grassroots organizations. How about keeping them both? We can use the grassroots to organize people to protest and donate, and we can use HRC and others to focus the raw power of the grass roots message towards legislaters.

  • Ted B. (Charging Rhino)

    The HRC isn’t even a gay-rights lobbying organization any-more; it’s just the gay mailing list for fund-raising campaigns by the Natl Committee of the Democratic Party and the abortion-rights folks. And their membership numbers have never been honest….just give them a doillar or buy one of their tee-shirts and your listred as an “active member” for-ever.

    They’ve failed on over 30 State denials of gay marriage. They’ve failed on Doma…on ENDA…and on DADT. Maybe the leadership at HRC shoud ask for a financial bailout like Wall-Street and Detroit’s Big-Three.

  • konrad

    “HRC claims to have spent $3.4 million on No On 8. The Mormon church was able to spend over $20 million, by appealing to its members. Why are non-gay Mormons more capable of organizing and fund-raising on a gay rights measure than the biggest national gay rights group?”

    I dunno. How much did you give?

  • MB

    First thing the morning of November 5th I checked to see the status of Prop 8 and found it had likely passed. Then I checked my email to see a glowing message from Joe Solmonese with the subject line “HRC Claims Victory”. I was enraged. I then went to the HRC website to see what the next steps to fight this were and all I got was a splashy page about Sean Penn in the movie MILK.

    HRC is over. Between them and GLAAD it seems all they do is throw fabulous parties for celebrities to make them feel good about having a gay friend, and then email asking to fund it. No thanks. My money goes to the ACLU and Lambda Legal.

  • Ethan

    Nicely put John B, HRC is not the End All and Be All of Gay rights organizations. It does what it is supposed to but we need the grass root level to spring up now and make itself known.

    Again I have to say that HRC is perfectly poised to make change in this upcoming administration. They know how to play politics, and now that we have an incoming Administration that is open for change HRC and other stalwart organizations can bring about this change.

  • thebigreddog

    HRC positions itself as advocates of LGBT Americans and boosts of their 725,000 members and supporters.
    From their mission statement…
    “HRC works to secure equal rights for GLBT individuals and families at the federal and state levels by lobbying elected officials, mobilizing grassroots supporters, educating Americans, investing strategically to elect fair-minded officials and partnering with other GLBT organizations.”


    While they state that they “mobilize grassroots supporters”, they have only contacted me for more $$, renew a membership (which I canceled after the ENDA fiasco) and offers of $1000 a plate parties to pat themselves on the back.

    They really need to rethink and retool the organization. With the stature of their name, logo, and identity, they have a great responsibility to the GLBT community.

  • Camilo

    I think anyone who sat on their ass expecting the HRC to work for them regarding Prop 8 and did not donate money, or time, or do anything in their own state to work against the passage of Prop 8 needs to take a step back and stop playing the blame game.

    We really need to look at ourselves and ask, what could we have done differently. Did we phone bank? Did we work for the cause? Did we donate any of OUR money?

    And I think it’s very petty to whine about HRC not putting the protests on their page.

    I agree 100% with putting money into Lambda Legal and those who consistently go to court for our rights (and get results as they did with the CA State Supreme Court).

    The demonstrations have shown the world we do not accept this discrimination, but ultimately this battle must finish in the courts, once again.

  • rick

    Andrew Sullivan hates HRC. Is this news? Yawn.

  • MCnNYC

    Coming from THIS source…SULLY’s the criticism just a bit.

    Actually an email from the ED of HRC went directly out to all supporters on the Wed before.
    Then was posted on both the main page as well as the HRC blog

    Which included:
    “Now is the time to be constructive with our hurt and disappointment. This weekend, thousands in all 50 states will take to the streets with one common goal in mind—full equality for all—let us not forget that our cause is one of civil respect rooted in justice and fairness. Marchers will call not only for justice for LGBT families, but for an end to all the oppressions that hold our nation back and give the false impression that our differences are more profound than what we have in common. To locate a Join the Impact rally near you, visit

    On FRI HRC also splashed a huge post:
    Businesses and Organizations That Supported Proposition 8

    Did anyone check what the NGLTF–I did NOTHING
    What about NY’s PRIDE AGENDA—Nothing\

    Let’s just put ALL our energy into the streets.
    Let’s just burn everything including the church..canwe get Sullivan to light the match to his parish first.


  • MCnNYC

    Why isn’t he going after the OBAMA campaign who he has a personal relationship with…and gotten them to respond to the disgusting robo calls that used the VOICE of OBAMA declaring “I DO NOT BELIEVE IN GAY MARRIAGE.”
    No the campaign knew about it. and according to Roland MArtin of CNN decided they “did not want to make the last days of the campaign about this issue”. And the Democratic Party went along…as well as MArrage Equality CA the No on Prop8.

  • Claes

    I agree that the whole No on 8 campaign was completely mismanaged. I tried volunteering but they were focusing completely on “preaching to the choir”, which I think was a huge waste of time. HRC exists solely to keep its leaders in a nice lifestyle. They do not speak for me and I will not support any more of their efforts. My fight for equality doesn’t belong to them! Lori Jean should stick to fundraising, which she is very good at.

  • MCnNYC

    I do want to commpliment the editors here with they way you framed the flamethrowing Andrew Sullivan here. This comment of AS is typical of him and stupid in many ways…calling on defunding of an org which is doing good work.
    So it’s making the rounds of LGBT blogs and you guys here have at least put it in context and there is a constructive question to be made.

    But Sully is a right wing idealogue who is using this situation to score some points with his arch nemisis HRC.
    I guess if you aren’t allowed to vote on this issue…heck maybe even contribute money to a political campaign all you have left to do is BITCH. How about some constructive critisism.
    Or does he just want us all to grab some sticks a few matches and starting burning.

  • Paul

    Perhaps this isn’t exactly the right thread to be commenting on this, but since we’re talking about grassroots efforts, perhaps our fine (and I use that in both senses of the word) editor Japhy can start a different thread along these lines: Come out to your families. I mean, your whole families.

    I’m a late 20-something guy who has largely avoiding the issue with my fundamentalist family–for a variety of reasons. But Prop 8 has energized me to educate them. When my own mother was baffled by Prop 8 because she had heard that Ellen got married and didn’t understand how she could suddenly be un-married, I realized I have been failing. There are whole swaths of people who just don’t know what’s going on.

    We all could do a little more grassroots outreach. I support Lambda Legal because I think a lot of these things will eventually be settled in the court of law, but to the extent we all seem to think HRC is failing miserably to get anything legislative done, we need to work with our family and friends to make them see that the politicians they elect DO make a difference.

  • john

    If gay people were required to give 10% of their earnings to the HRC or whomever “represents” us then maybe we could have raised the amount that the mormons had on hand. THEY are required to give money to the church, the church decides how they use it, like buying real estate, etc… this time they chose to allocate a huge amount of funds to fight the evil.
    Gay people are like everyone else, we are either generous to a fault OR very selfish and let others do our fighting for us…unfortunately I think we found that too many gay people laid back, saved their $25 for more vodka and let the rest of us try to fund the fight. And when many gay people are self hating, psychological wrecks why expect them to stand up and be proud of who we are as human beings?
    WE WILL prevail in the end, once someone figures out how work the Freedom for all, Equality, principles that the country was founded on angle, I think we might have a chance to come out from under the religious witch-hunters cloak of shame and rule. Lets face it, for a country who has seperation of religion and state, we sure do require our leaders to be christian….NOT Jewish, not buddhist, not ANYTHING else, you must be full fledged christian and state your love of God and your faith. WHEN WILL THAT END? when my President can just run on his abilities and not pander to the religious?
    Is it time for final seperation of church and state yet?

  • Legin

    I won’t comment specifically on HRC or any of the national groups but I do have a problem with the no on 8 campaign itself. It seems that people were so scared of putting the gay community forward as a legitimate and viable constituent of the nation that their ads were devoid of anything that remotely resembled the community, even to the point of not depicting any actual gay people or mentioning the word gay. This has got to be a lessson. If we come across as being ashamed of ourselves then how can we expect others to respect us?

  • John in SF

    I’m not sure why there is so much energy spent on a) criticizing HRC about Prop 8 and b) wanting to throw out the leaders of the campaign against 8 – who by every other measure have been tremendously successful at achieving LGBT equality.

    HRC was part of the coalition fighting 8, but they were not central to that fight. Had we won, they could not have taken much credit and now that we lost, they should not be blamed for it either. (I’m not a particularly big fan of HRC, and I’m not a donor, for the record).

    The folks who were much more central to the fight against 8 were the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Equality California. While folks may want to blame them and the supposed lack of leadership, you would be kicking out the folks who WON marriage in the CA Supreme Court in the first place. You would be kicking out the folks who moved the California electorate EIGHTEEN POINTS since the beginning of the decade – when Prop 22 passed (which had identical language to Prop 8) Lastly, you would be kicking out the folks who won domestic partnerships that confer all the rights and priviledges of marriage (excep the name), as well as DOZENS of other bills.

    Why would anyone want to replace or punish such fantastically successful advocates? We should all write checks TODAY to keep NCLR and EQCA going strong.

  • Bruno

    Our movement has been spearheaded by well-meaning, but fancy, types who think that raising enough money alone solves the problem. Seriously, that’s exactly what No on 8 has said all along…we’ll win if we throw the most lavish fundraisers, and from what I’ve gathered, HRC holds the same types of views. Let’s call it the Log Cabin School of Civil Rights.

    Bear this in mind everyone: we did not lose for a lack of funds or because the other side raised so much money. We lost because people are still willing to accept the LIES that all fundamentalist, evangelical demagogues throw their way. Sunday mornings were much bigger advertising opportunities than anything on television. And we should’ve been there outside those churches EVERY Sunday morning since May.

  • Cgone

    Our community is only as good as the individuals who comprise it. There are tremendous minds working at every organization mentioned in the comments. There are evangelists and people who work tirelessly across the board for HRC, NCLR, GLAAD, the No on 8 Campaign, Equality California, Lambda Legal, SLDN, EVERYWHERE. It is about time we stop asking “Why No on 8 did” or “didn’t” do something and start asking why it took the Passage of Prop 8 for the gay community to care. Had every attendee of a national protest made 10 phone calls to family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, classmates, etc, things may be different. The reality is, we suffered a tremendous loss and we need to take a step back and review our strategy across the nation. Wanda was right, we won’t stop until we have equality across the board. We have galvanized the community – let’s stop playing the blame game and start building a solution. Let’s take some of the lessons that every comment on here reflects and figure out how to pass ENDA and kill DADT and continue the marriage fight with some wins in VT and NY and NJ so that in 2010, California tips the scales so every state and every American thinks marriage equality should be given…A little less focus on what to wear for Halloween and a little more focus on persuading America so that we win each of these these battles.


  • M.Shane

    Indeed, just because Sulivan says it, doesn’t make it wrong! Although it suprises me that after all of his harping about gay liberation being dead he would sugggest someting as potentially post Stonewall as a grassroots movement. We need to put an end to this mainstreaming political rigamarol, and get everyone with a voice raging about all forms of stigmatization queer people suffer.

    The HRC has less money because they can’t convince anyone who would give it to them that they have the gumption and strategy to do anything, or take postures that represent something.

  • John in SF

    @Cgone: Agreed. And to amplify – I would offer that I’d been a volunteer with the campaign since Gay Pride in June. I’ve walked streets, called supporters and undecided voters, emailed like a fiend, and used Facebook to constantly make a plea for volunteers and donations … so we could reach all those folks before the Yes on 8 folks besieged them with lies. In 5 months, I succeeded in pursuading maybe 4 people to volunteer, each of whom spent maybe 6 hours working. Only one of my friends spent any significant amount of time volunteering before the last 2 weeks of the campaign as a result of my invitations.

    Then we lose the election, and suddenly everybody is sending invitations to join dozens of anti-8 Facebook groups, and marches up and down San Francisco. This is a GREAT thing, mind you. But if more folks had responded to my pleas in July, in August, in September, and in October, then maybe we would be attending wedding receptions in November instead of demonstrations.

  • Ken

    Well Stonewall was the catalyst that launched the imagination of millions of Gay men and Woman globally and it was as ‘Gay Liberation’ not some skanky queer liberation that led the initial post riot charge. There is no excuse in legitimizing a hated slur term it disrespects those men who were brutalized or murdered while having it spat at them it’s not revolutionary why it’s not even clever, Gay Liberation cleverly negated slur terms like queer and not legitimized them, the argument still going over nigger is equally applicable to slur terms like queer, would have Rosa Parkes as an African American woman have lovingly termed her self a ‘nigger’? I doubt it so why do so many intellectual & philosophical lightweights in the ‘Gay world’ think they have the right to wholesale brand all homosexual people as ‘queer’ there has not been our approval or consent just a railroading of their limited values over the rest of us.

  • Tom in Lazybrook

    I don’t give anymore to HRC. I stopped giving a long time ago as I feel that that issuing ‘press releases’ that are read by nobody aren’t cutting it.

    I tried to look at the bright side of HRC. Their ‘worknet’ program of lobbying corporations for equal benefits has been relatively successful. So I asked how I could donate to HRC’s worknet program without having my money go towards their building, their black tie dinners, and their ‘press releases’. I was told that I’d have to donate in excess of $5000 to be able to specify my donation. So they get nothing.

    But one thing they CAN do is to add a new score of -20 points on their equality index to any employer that specifically recruits at schools where Gay couples can not be students (unless they have a one for one affirmative action policy). In that way, companies would be penalized for discriminating against Gay couples through recruiting at schools such as BYU in order to ‘weed out’ Gay people.

  • MCnNYC

    Actually Tom you are a bit mistaken.
    You can donate to the HRC Foundation which does most of the work you are referring to.
    Those contributions are also tax deductable.
    The capital campaign for the “building” you refer to is finished.
    (for the record I am a Federal Club member) and I’m sorry you recieved that misinformation.
    For the web:The HRC Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. Programs funded in part or in full through the HRC Foundation include:
    The HRC Workplace Project
    The HRC Religion and Faith Program
    The HRC Historically Black Colleges and Universities Outreach Program
    The HRC Family Project

    They have also started work on something new this summer along the lines of the Business/Corporate program. They found that a lot of hospitals do not recognise same sex rights so they are hoping to start the same type of program where hospitals can ask to be rated and then if they pass certain criteria will get an positive index. anyway if you are interested by looking here

    Or you could just take Andrew Sullivan’s word for it all.

  • JoetheGay

    I live in Washington DC and it took 6 months of writing the HRC, calling the HRC, basically stalking the HRC for them to finally tell me how I could volunteer for them. I am a college graduate in GLBT studies mind you and yet even after stalking the HRC to volunteer the only avenue to volunteer is a Wednesday night where they either let you stuff envelopes or put pins on letters.


    Not only was the organization a quiet bystander on Saturday’s Protests they actually debated making a statement separating themselves from it due to a few anti-religious/racist remarks made in some of the California protests. It is clear we need new leadership that understand the GLBT community, one that reflects the energy we need. Without change I doubt we will see equality in our lifetime.

  • Jaroslaw

    @Joe the Gay – I can’t dispute your story – and I’m sorry. I have always found HRC to be responsive and I’ll illustrate by anecdote. My dad worked for Big Brothers (later BB/Big Sisters) for almost 18 years, 10-12 hour days). He did major fundraisers on top of that to keep it going. My favorite was the Gary Shope concert. The place was packed. But if you ask any number of people around that city “what did BB/BS do” probably 3/4 of them would say not much. The point is we need the front lines, the legislative lobbyist, everything. HRC is a part of the movement and a good part, I think. Happy to be a contributor to them.

  • go to girl

    Having worked with HRC and GLAAD I can honestly say that I found the mission for both organizations to be about paying the salaries of those employed at the organizations and not for helping the community. Solmonese & Giuliano are mouth pieces making over 6 figure salaries just trying to figure out their next career moves and ignoring what is needed by the community right now.

  • TheSnitch

    ********* ATTENTION GAYS / HATE SITE ALERT **************
    This Website

    spreads HATE about gay people and has nudity on their site from the Folsom Street fair as “examples” of how “perverse” we are.

    They are asking for Donations through PAYPAL.

    ** Complain and report them to PAYPAL at [email protected] and [email protected] let’s have their PAYPAL ACCOUNT taken away from them for “TERMS OF SERVICE” violations.

    Paypal TOS clearly state there is to be no pornography /nudity , or Hate involved in the use of their service *see*

  • Brendan D.

    @Ken: Ken, I beg to differ. Stonewall WAS a “skanky queer liberation.” Stonewall was a sleazy, shithole bar full of poorer, more radically un-heteronormative types, including drag queens and other gender non-conformists. Do you know where the wealthy, “passing” gays were that weekend? Fire island. Do you know what their response was when they heard about the riots? They were horrified. They thought that this was going to set the movement back, precisely because of how shockingly queer the participants were. So remember, before you go bandying Stonewall about in our faces, remember that is was a radical action, not a respectable one.

  • Brendan D.

    Most of the complaints I have about HRC have already been addressed here, so I’ll just add this little tidbit, which I have not heard mentioned on many queer blogs: The HRC recently sent out e-mails asking its members to pledge to be “extremists for love.” So, even when HRC tries to harness itself to the power of grassroots anger, they still come off sounding stilted and completely silly. HRC needs to sort its life out.

  • mark

    I quit supporting HRC when they supported non inclusive ENDA, I had supported HRC for twenty years prior to that, it was the LAST STRAW.

  • John in SF

    @mark: Again, I agree that HRC has a lot to be desired, especially given the money and trust that has been invested in it. But I also have to say that we should be at least as vigorous at SUPPORTING those organizations that DO work, as we are at criticizing those that don’t.

    EQCA (and equivalent organizations in many states) build broad based coalitions and GET MANY BILLS INTO LAW, including a domestic partnership law in CA that is the full equivalent of marriage (save the name). EQCA was one of the plaintiffs in the marriage case in CA that ultimately recognized the constitutional right to marry.

    NCLR, who’s legal work WON THE RIGHT to MARRY in California…and who advocates for hundreds of LGBT individuals and families across the country.

    Equality Federation…which ensures that what is learned in California (and other states) doesn’t stay in California.

    Dollar for dollar, these organizations are unbelievably effective at securing our rights.

    Lastly – I love Horizons Foundation which was one of the major contributors to no on 8 – EVEN BEFORE it was on the ballot, and which supports hundreds of LGBT organizations – in the Bay Area and nationally.

    There are MANY other orgs worthy of our support. I believe that if donors gave EVEN HALF of what they give to HRC to these effective organizations, that we would win marriage nationwide in less than 10 years – even after the prop 8 defeat!

    Let’s spend our energy to BUILD UP, not TEAR DOWN—


  • mark

    I’ll give my funds to AIDS shelters, Victory fund, Lambda Legal, Emily’s List

  • John in SF



  • Sandalphon

    It is just the same in the UK, the LGBT groups like stonewall, they do not really represent gay rights anymore, and people are complaining. Most gay groups are not what they should be anymore.

  • Nick

    I wonder if HRC raises more money every time Sullivan criticizes them.

  • Willie Hewes

    It’s not that the HRC have got to go, it’s that new leaders need to stand up. We need to stop looking to our great leaders to make it all OK, and do stuff ourselves. We don’t need their permission or backing, as this Saturday shows, all you need is a flippin website!

    ANY of us could be leaders, ANY of us could revitalise the movement. Stop complaining and set up a mailinglist for the people who were out there this weekend. Next time you want some people to show up somewhere, all you have to do is send them an e-mail.

  • Bitter Better

    If you don’t like them don’t give them money. Its America, people.

  • macNnyc

    @BrendonD. Did you see most of the signs at this past rally?
    LOVE was in a lot of the signs. And that letter also qouted MLK critisied the Catholic Church as well as the LDS anyone else even mentioning the Catholics? NO the dirty shameful secret is we swat at the easy targets –our own and the marginal religions.
    We need all hands on deck.
    And we need to prioritize our agenda.
    And on the Fed level it’s not Marriage Equality.
    So what do we want…..and when can we get it.

  • Al Benson

    John in SF sez: [HRC] by every other measure have been tremendously successful at achieving LGBT equality.

    Are you high? The events who have achieved success in gay equality have been first and foremost the Stonewall RIOTS, the Act-UP DEMONSTRATIONS, ZAPS, STREET CLOSURES and finally the independently organized mass movements of this past 12 days.

    Not a single thing was done by a long list of passive defeat-habituated no-longer leaders including HRC and The Gay center here in LA.

    The reality is that it’s over for them. Like a ponderous dinosaur, it will take some time for the news to reach their brains.

    Perhaps the election of Obama portends more then anyone suspects in terms of clearing the decks of the old ineffectual politics and making way for the new. ….oh yeah an ‘honorable’ mention: so HRC has 700,000 plus members and supporters…well a web site that accepted only a single dollar donation from each could have buried the Mormon and Catholic efforts.

  • John in SF

    @Al Benson:

    Al you misquoted me.

    I did not write that HRC was tremendously successful at achieving LGBT equality. You added HRC to that part of the sentence. What I said is that the leaders of the campaign against 8 — EQCA and NCLR (and their partner organizations) — have been tremendously successful at achieving equality.

    HRC did not win marriage in the California Supreme Court. EQCA and NCLR (and several partner organizations) did.

    HRC did not win domestic partnerships in CA. EQCA did.

    I call that pretty successful. You may disagree with me, and that is fine, but my opinion is that these leaders have a proven history of moving the legislature, the courts, and the people towards the direction of LGBT equality. It is my opinion that to throw them out — as many posts on this page suggest — would be disasterous for our movement.

    On a personal note – I’m OK with being disagreed with, but I don’t think it is necessary to sling personal insults into the mix by asking if I am high. I can live with that question just fine, but it is just the latest example of how some folks are choosing to move from disagreement about tactics and strategies and into personal attacks. It is really self-destuctive.

    Again, let us BUILD UP not TEAR DOWN.

  • Jack E. Jett

    I thought the HRC was an overpriced catering company that provided rubber chicken dinners to
    relieve homophobes of some guilt.

    I know here in Dallas, a company that buys a table at the Black Tie HRC dinner think they have carte blanche to gay bashing comments the rest of the year.

    BTW did you know that Andrew Sullivan was on the list with Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck and other right wingers that CBS planned to hire for a Bush cover up?

  • MCnNYC

    FIrst off thank you John in SF for your commentary in regards to the tone.
    But I have to say reading a few of the blogs comments on this topic by FAR this one has been the most constructive.
    Now to AL I’m really not sure what the ZAPS and street closings church disruptions did to help on issues of gay adoption or changing the workplace towards a more open envirinment.
    Look Stonewall, ACT UP QUEER NATION helped achieve very strategic gains. And in ACT UP helped speed up and change the dialogue around the AIDS crisis. But there are new issues now.
    And some don’t even think that marriage should even be a part of the adgenda. Hey Queer Nation activists–how about marriage? FU! So maybe you are more suited to throwing bricks at building and smashing a few skulls–hell the Black Panthers were instumental in the 60’s!!
    But maybe others who share the same goals are more suited in other ways in caring out those goals.

  • lyssa

    These are some fags I encourage folks to bash.

    Let the Homobigots rights Campaign burn and die the death it deserves.

    Transfolks and those LGB types deserve nothing less…

  • Disgusted American

    Im not sure what HRC did or Did NOT help fight this blatant H8 prop….but in my opinion…IF Harvey Milk were around, he’s slap the shit out of Joe Solomenese.

  • Sean

    My sentiments exactly.


    i admire and respect the HRC for their constant efforts to protect and advance the rights of LGBT Americans. However, I am not a fan of Joe Solmonese and I do not think he should be the executive/leader of the HRC. In my opinion, Solmonese is ‘dry toast’ – he is boring, uninspiring and vapid. I cannot think of a single significant thing he has done for the LGBT community during his tenure as executive of the HRC. He is not someone who should be a leader of the LGBT rights movement.

  • JJ

    What lies did the prop 8 people make? Please document why the statement was a lie. For instance, I’ve heard over and over that school curriculums would not be affected by governmental recognition of same-sex marriage, but then there were at least two high profile examples of schools who 1) had a field trip to a same-sex marriage (1st graders) and 2) had children sign a pledge to not use LGBT slurs (kindergartners-you can’t have them sign something like this without explaining what LGBT stands for). Also, it is true that the Catholic charities had to shut down their adoption agency because the State was forcing them to adopt to same-sex married couples. It is a fact that pro-8 people were called “bigots”, filled with “hate”, and had their signs torn down. Since the election, there have been McCarthyesk persecutions against pro-8 people. It appears to most neutral people that the claims of the pr0-8 people were understated.

  • Jaroslaw

    JJ you are so ignorant –

    1. First graders were INVITED to their teacher’s wedding, it was not a required activity

    2. The pledge cards were intended for an older age group children – the school acknowledged it was some sort of mistake. Sorry, life is like that – no perfect schools, no perfect families, no perfect employees, no perfect anything.

    3. Catholic charities chose not to place children in QUALIFIED homes that passed all the required tests, so they chose to shut down their charity rather than place children in same sex households. That’s how it is when you take government money…..ALL recipients must obey the law.

  • John in SF

    @JJ: @Jaroslaw:

    I Ditto Jaroslaw – and I’d also point out that most of what you are talking about has nothing to do with prop 8 or even marriage.

    – the language of prop 8 said nothing about curriculum or schools. Zero Zilch Nada. Curriculum is generally set at the school board level anyway.

    -Whether children are taught not to disrespect LGBT people has nothing to do with whether California recognises LGBT marriage. Nothing. Children should be taught not to use slurs against anyone – whether they are married or single. I’m kind of disturbed that you think it is ok for children to be permitted to use slurs in school.

    -Marriage is not a requirement for adoption, so the whole adoption question has nothing at all to do with Prop 8 or gay marriage. Whether Prop 8 passed or failed, gay people would have the right to adopt in California.

    I don’t personally condone name calling of pro-8 voters, or any kind of sign stealing, cross stomping, or any of that. But I’ve had my no on 8 sign vandalised 3 times, and a neighbor’s dog defecated under it twice. And I live blocks from the Castro district in the heart of San Francisco. Imagine the intolerance we face in places like Salt Lake City, Yuba City, Modesto, Orange County, and the like, where we are not so concentrated. Because we have all experienced truly hateful behavior throughout our lives (not just during campaign season), we have a tendancy to assume that all people who oppose our rights are hateful. We should be more careful about our language, but don’t mistake the fact that we all know people who have been called names, beaten up, or even killed just becasue they were lesbian, gay, bi, or transgendered.

    Five years ago, I attended part of the trial of one of our own murdered 5 years ago. The pictures of her blodied body, beaten and raped into an unrecognizable form, shows all to vividly that hate against us is still alive and well right here in California. THAT is why we KNOW that at least some of those who voted against us are filled with hatred for us. And that is why our children should be tought to respect everyone.

  • Jaroslaw

    And I should also point out that the YES on 8 people (for those who missed it) put out the TV ad with the children at the same sex wedding –

    a) without permission of the parents involved (would you want your child’s photo on Statewide TV without your knowledge or permission?)

    b) they LIED about it implying the children were forced to attend as a school function

    So much for the value of children and the family they claim they are “protecting.” And “truth” – don’t most religions teach telling the truth is a virtue?

    BTW, I echo John in SF as well, I have not vandalized any Churches etc. and don’t support that. We’ll never know the whole story of course, but there are instances of violence being self inflicted and blamed on the other side for media attention.

  • Jaroslaw

    Also I should also point out that the YES on 8 people (for those who missed it) put out the TV ad with the children at the same sex wedding –

    a) without permission of the parents involved (would you want your child’s photo on Statewide TV without your knowledge or permission?)

    b) they LIED about it implying the children were forced to attend as a school function

    So much for the value of children and the family they claim they are “protecting.” And “truth” – don’t most religions teach telling the truth is a virtue?

    BTW, I echo John in SF as well, I have not vandalized any Churches etc. and don’t support that. We’ll never know the whole story of course, but there are instances of violence being self inflicted and blamed on the other side for media attention.

  • Ken

    Americans for ‘truth’…(cough) was a good read, Christians are getting good at cottoning on and throwing being ‘squalid queers’ back in your faces, time the so called (self appointed) GLBT leadership rethought their public strategies, the skanky American way is not the best way Canada, New Zealand, Brazil, Countries of the EEC & others have benefited by strategizing in ways that promote Gay rights in their national law, the USA is now a dieing superpower an economic weakling her people insipid, arrogant, unaware and behaving like degenerate inbreeds, the American dream a past illusion you have now joined much of the rest of the world suffering the deprivation of good leadership, learn by others successes not relying on your own presupposed political correctness or you are doomed to further failure.

  • Tony

    Thanks to the HRC itself, in part, we have always been devided since their decision to not stick up for Trans rights.

    White, Hetero-normative gay and lesbian couples seem to be the only people’s rights that HRC are concerned with. This is not the LGBT community, this is only one of many.

    Very sad.

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