Does HRC Owe Alexander Nicholson (And All Gay Veterans) A Huge Apology?

The spat between the Human Rights Campaign and a slew of gay veterans grows deeper. After HRC’s spokesman Fred Sainz (pictured, below) lashed out at Servicemembers United founder Alex Nicholson (pictured, bottom), a number of gay veterans signed on to a letter lambasting the Gay Inc. group. And as Queerty‘s commenters show, the backlash is only growing against HRC for going after the guy who’s actually willing to criticize the establishment.

Here’s commenter Stephen Thorn:

After reading Dan Choi’s letter to HRC, I sent the following letter to Joe Solmonese, President of HRC:

Joe Solmonese, President
1640 Rhode Island Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20036-3278

October 13, 2010

Dear Mr. Solmonese:

Both my spouse, Frederick Carter, and myself have been members of HRC, and we frequently purchase HRC merchandise at your retail store in the Castro in San Francisco. I was extremely dismayed to read DADT activist Dan Choi’s recent letter to HRC regarding HRC’s personal attack against Servicemembers United’s founder and Executive Director, Alex Nicholson (see attached). My spouse is a disabled veteran who became permanently disabled while serving in the U.S. Marines. Consequently, I agree with Mr. Choi-people like Nicholson and Choi (as well as my spouse) know what it’s like to serve their country on the frontlines and then after making this sacrifice for their country faithfully, risk formal discharge simply because they choose to be honest with the military about their sexual orientation. Under the current circumstances I think HRC’s official statement to Mr. Nicholson- that the LGBT service members & veteran’s community should be thankful and praise President Obama and his Administration for where we are today regarding the repeal of DADT- is totally unacceptable. President Obama and his staff have not fulfilled their campaign promises to LGBT service members & veterans to repeal DADT; the fact that the president keeps claiming that he wants DADT to be repealed through Congress-instead of by Executive Order- is a cop-out on his part and clearly demonstrates his lack of commitment to his initial promise to LGBT service members and veterans. Neither President Obama nor his administration deserves our gratitude and praise; in fact, they are the ones the HRC should be critical of… instead of Alex Nicholson and his associates.

Let me state for the record, I have never met nor contacted either Alex Nicholson or Dan Choi (or anyone else affiliated with them) before this incident occurred; however, I believe that HRC owes Alex Nicholson a public apology for demeaning his hard work to repeal DADT. From now on, every time I watch my permanently disabled spouse suffer unbelievable back pain-even after four back surgeries and countless trials with different pain killers- I will think of people like you and your HRC staff members who sit in their ivory towers really having absolutely no idea what sacrifices former service members like Mr. Nicholson, his colleagues, and my spouse made for this country.


Stephen Thorn

Here’s commenter scottyhouston:

The title of this thread [“Dear HRC, Go Fuck Yourselves. Signed, Gay Veterans”] pretty much says it all as far as I’m concerned.

I’m a recently retired 23 year Air Force veteran who retired with honors and just after my 40th birthday. I was in my entire adult life until recently. I was in before the DADT policy kicked in back in 1993 and things have been horrible since then.

Over the years I supported HRC through many, many donations (even when I didn’t have the money). I felt they were worth my time and energy because we needed a voice. Now I find that they are doing nothing. I was in D.C. in the Spring of this year to attend a Lobby Day on Congress sponsored by the Servicemember’s Legal Defense Network. One of the 3 days I was there a forum was held at The National Press Club in D.C. This forum had members from SLDN, Servicemember’s United and HRC. I was flabbergasted at the disconnect between these three organizations. It was such a push me/pull me situation. I couldn’t help believing that the gay community needs to figure out what it is as a whole and get the right people in place to speak for us.

I’m CONVINCED that HRC as we knew it has run its course as an organization and is dire need of housecleaning when it comes to their president and other administrators. I stopped all support to HRC a year ago and redirected my time and money to SLDN! HRC is nothing more then a glorified fashion show and cocktail party with a president SEVERELY overpaid!

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  • Cam

    We all knew that behind closed doors HRC didn’t have respect for the grass roots organizations or the people that were working in specific issues like Marriage or DADT.

    But this man, who is one of the leading voices against DADT in the country simply asked to be able to speak with the rep from the White House and HRC publiclly went out and attacked him in writing!

    They are so insulated that it doesn’t occur to them that just because something infuriates them, nobody else will agree with them.

    They are infuriated because they have seen much of the battle for gay rights taken out of their hands. They tried to keep the community quiet on gay rights, and the community didn’t listen.

    Now the main movements in gay rights, are two court cases, Prop 8 and DADT BOTH of which they came out against.

    What you are seeing is the rage and lashing out of a dying organization terrified that they can’t hold onto the money and access that has been so easy for them to obtain in the past. Remmeber, if we get full rights, HRC is no longer needed….so really, why WOULDN’t they drag their feet?


    Thank you Cam!

    I finally learned about this time last year, that HRC is actually a wing of the Democratic Party…. Democrat first, LGBT second.

    THAT ORDER NEEDS TO CHANGE if they intend to stay relevant.

    HRC (and the task force, for that matter) did everything in their power to stop the national equality march, but failed and only joined on at the last minute once beaten. Sounds like the Prop 8 and DADT lawsuits, huh? Fight it, but once it’s inevitable, join on and try and figure out a way to raise money like it was your own project!

    If it’s not their idea, and not under their control – HRC will fight it. They couldn’t control Alex, they couldn’t control the march, they can’t control getequal…. panic must be setting in.

  • Ian

    F*** the HRC and their useless begging, oops I meant ‘lobbying’ to government that mets little to NO results. I’m sick of the gay equivelant of the conservative blue dogs, which I will call the pink donkeys, who rejoice in HRC’s failures and people who stay in the closet like Anderson Cooper, etc. I’m sick of these apologists who want to enforce the status-quo by having “more patience” for ANOTHER 5-10-20 YEARS, etc.

    It’s time to go back to the lessons of the 80’s and act-up, or in this case DEMAND that Gay Americans GetEQUAL!! I recommend to donate to groups that are demanding for our rights like GetEQUAL or others that are comparable, and to donate to them. The HRC deserves to go into the dustbin of history.

  • Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com

    @ scottyhouston: thank you for your service to our country, and for traveling to DC in May for the Lobby Day. Apparently you didn’t get that all three groups, SLDN, SU, and HRC were cosponsoring the event, but didn’t you wonder why there was no demonstration at the White House taking advantage of all of you being in town at the same time…even one without any kind of arrest…when the President was clearing AWOL on helping lift the ban?

    Could it be because HRC was picking up the tab for most of the event? Could it be because Alex Nicholson’s partner Jarrod Chlapowski was then on HRC’s payroll?

    There’s much more than meets the eye to this pissing match…and much more responsibility than just HRC’s [LOATHSOME organization that it is] for failing to adequately pressure the President.

  • Tom in Lazybrook

    Where has HRC been over the last several days while the issue of an appeal has been up in the air?

    Nowhere. The HRC didn’t even publically call on the president to not appeal it.

  • Ran

    It just seems to me that HRC has made some sort of gentleman’s agreement with the administration to not push them for their guarantee that DADT will be repealed, which the President many times has said he will do on his watch. Many feel the election is complicating the timing. Had Republican’s not block the Defense Spending bill it might have already been repealed.

    As this article points out, HRC is not the only support group involved and there is nothing that limits the other groups to protest or do anything they want. So I wonder then, why are they not doing that? Then exercise your rights.

    I don’t remember all the back and forth correspondence, but even if HRC said everyone in America should support the President, and people don’t agree, the civil thing to do is simply say we don’t agree, we feel you are letting us down because of x, y and z and therefore we will move forward without you. It just seems some of these angry words are getting personal and in some respect petty.

    If you don’t support HRC’s position then take action with something you do support. They are not the only player.

  • Tom in Lazybrook

    HRC is ‘involved’? Could have fooled me.

  • Robert

    @Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com:

    Ah, Michael Bedwell…still mad that nobody calls him for his sage advice. Conveniently omitted that Jarrod Chlapowski quit HRC and Alex quit working with them after being used as stage props one time too many…

    Would someone please invite Bedwell to a star-studded gala already? He won’t shut up until he’s part of the in-crowd.

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