Allison Herwitt, the (heterosexual) legislative director of the Human Rights Campaign, just might be the organization’s best asset. She’s the smooth operator, you see. With so many LGBT Americans, and potential HRC donors, furious with the White House and Democratic leadership over their ball dropping on everything from ENDA to DOMA to DADT, it’s very wise for HRC to start identifying with them — instead of alienating them, as it’s done in the past (read: as of yesterday), and usually whenever Joe Solmonese opens his mouth.
HRC does not traffic in is ultimatums. It does not issue lawmakers demands that if they don’t do X, then HRC will do Y. Instead, HRC is in the business and hand holding and coddling, which isn’t a terribly effective activist strategy. Its next-best tactic, then, is issuing strong words of disapproval. Sometimes it does this, but often revokes them when it’s convenient — to hilariously disastrous results.
But having told supporters — stupidly — that a DADT repeal will be done in 2010, Solmonese needs a fall back plan. Especially since each week brings less evidence it will actually happen. (Even lawmakers like Barney Frank think 2011 is a more reasonable best guess.) What happens if Congress doesn’t repeal the law this year? Well, that means Solmonese lied, and puts a huge gash in his already bleeding reputation.
So along comes Herwitt, telling DC Agenda, “I do think that there will be many LGBT Americans frustrated and disappointed if any of these [bills] don’t move. Even though we don’t have a pro-LGBT majority in the House and the Senate — this is our highest majority that we have and we need to obviously capitalize on the members that we have in the House and the Senate to pass legislation. So, in short, I do think that there will be anger in the community.”
Of course there is a difference between “anger in the community” and “anger inside HRC.” And despite his silly statement otherwise, Solmonese and his organization don’t represent all of us. But Herwitt puts it on the record that a lack of movement from Democrats will result in a lack of movement from LGBT voters, in donations, campaigning, and lever pulling.
Do her words indicate HRC is finally listening to that pesky “blog swarm” it mostly ignored? Sort of. But more so it indicates HRC is now following the efforts of grassroots activists, rather than leading the charge.
We needn’t tell you how out of touch and irrelevant HRC has allowed itself to become. And a few words about the feelings of LGBT voters, that can’t even be described as a thinly veiled threat — because it’s not really a threat — won’t change anything.
The significance of Herwitt’s words, then, can be boiled down to just this: HRC is saying publicly what you’ve all been screaming for months. Welcome to the party. Please check your coat.c