HRC On The Defensive Over Neal Non-Endorsement

We love a good homo-politic cat fight, don’t you?

Former Reprise Records president and activist Howie Klein appeared on Michelangelo Signorile’s radio show yesterday to rail against Human Rights Campaign for not endorsing North Carolina Senatorial hopeful Jim Neal, who happens to be gay. HRC claims they couldn’t make up their mind between Neal and his party rival, Kay Hagan, a veteran Senator.

So, rather than making an endorsement, they’re going to let North Carolinian voters decide. And Klein’s not having it.

Klein yesterday wrote a scathing op-ed blasting HRC’s DC-assimilation:

HRC is one of those Inside the Beltway organizations that has long ago lost sight of its original mandate. Instead of fighting for gay equality, they fight to win DC status games and to enhance the future career prospects of the staff. When it comes to electoral politics, you can almost always expect the worst from HRC.

As a follow-up, Klein spoke to Signorile to take some aural shots at the massive non-profit.

Well, Signorile informs us that HRC had their ear to the ground and are now sending VP of Policy David Smith to Signorile’s show to defend the group’s inaction. Tune into OutQ at 4:30 eastern and enjoy the back-handed-and-forth!

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  • Howie Klein

    Solomonese is a disgrace to the gay community and he’s wrecked HRC as a credible organization. When his gal Susan Collins was pushing for the lifetime appointment of vicious homophobe and racist Leslie Southwick as a federal appellate judge, he said “A nominee who so callously disregarded the rights of GLBT families clearly cannot be trusted to safeguard the rights of any American. This vote for Leslie Southwick is a vote against the dignity and safety of our families, and an insult to the millions of dedicated GLBT parents raising happy and healthy children across this country.” So how does that reflect HRC’s repulsive endorsement of Collins instead of progressive Democratic congressman, Tom Allen, who has always stood by the gay community and who has a 100% rating on HRC’s own score cards every year (unlike Collins, who’s score is mediocre) and who has promised to NEVER vote to confirm any homophobic judges?

  • proudtobedad

    I’ve actually canceled my HRC membership, which I thought I’d never do, because of their recent moves. Whether with ENDA, the non-endorsement of Jim Neal, their endorsement of the conservative Collins over liberal Allen, to Joe Solmonese’ personal support of Clinton… None of these seem to be decisions which will ultimately benefit our community. HRC is way off track and needs to be reminded who their constituency is…

  • emb

    So when was the last time NOW endorsed an incumbent male candidate over a woman? Does the NAACP commonly endorse long-term white office-holders over african-americans? I’m sorry, I know it’s good to be even-handed and not myopic about single-issues, but for fucksake, HRC, you’re supposed to be an advocacy group for the GLBTs, not for whoever is currently inviting you to senate parties!

    I don’t think I’m quite ready to pull the membership plug, but I’m glad I haven’t put the ol’ equal sign on the new prius yet!

  • hells kitchen guy

    Klein spoke at Mel Cheren’s memorial service. He’s extremely cool. and smart.

  • todd

    After ENDA – HRC is a joke.

  • Cambel

    Look, the comment above about NOW was right on the money. If NOW had a female who supported women’s rights running against a man who REFUSED to answer questions about women’s rights, this would be a no-brainer for them. HRC has failed EVERY TIME they have tried to get into politics. They are at turns ham handed and at others frigtened rabbits. They didn’t endorse William Weld years ago even though he supported gay marraige, yet will endorse hetrosexual politicians who don’t support advancing gay rights. Now they are refusing to support an openly gay candidate who actually has a chance of winning a senate seat in a souther state. It is obvious the entire staff there is just diong as they are told until they can all get the lobbying jobs they are obviously whoring for.

  • John

    People are missing the point in trashing HRC over this (and ENDA, but that’s another post). While HRC is far from perfect, in this instance theey did the right thing. HRC’s mission is not advancing candidates b/c they are gay, but candidates (gay/straight, republican/democratic) who are supportive on gay issues. (Now, the Victory Fund, who also didn’t endorese Neal, are another story – their goal is to elect GLBT officials; then again, maybe they don’t think money or an endorsement of Jim Neal is a good use of funds? I’d like to hear the reasoning there)

    With Jim Neal, I’m sure he’s a great person and have heard nothing but good things about him. But, the reality is that he’s in a very tight primary race with an opponent that has a good record on gay issues and a stronger background in electoral politics (she was a state senator or house member – and in that position introduced and supported pro-GLBT legislation). She may not be gay, but she could well be the better candidate, if elected, to advance our rights. Why then, other than to feel good and righteous, should HRC support Neal over her? They shouldn’t and didn’t. What they did is not take a position and will, no doubt, support Neil or Kay Hagan.

    Similary, Susan Collins is an incumbent with a good GLBT voting record (the judges thing stinks, but it doesn’t completely discredit her support on a host of other issues). Her opponent, while great on our issues, hasn’t got a snowball’s chance in hell of beater her. So, again, why piss off any ally just to feel good.

    Folks, grow up and see the bigger picture. If the Dem wins the presidency, we’ll have a historic opportunity to advance GLBT rights and HRC is the single organization that is positioned and respected enough on the Hill to make a difference. The reason for that, HRC is willing to take the tough, mature stands despite the whining of bloggers and such who refuse to see a bigger, more effective strategy.

  • Brian

    From what I understand, Kay Hagen won’t even answer questions about her support or non-support of GLBT rights issues. So how is that the HRC couldn’t decide????

    And regarding Susan Collins…while there are good Republicans out there (and she kind of is one, though her Democratic opponent is much better), until organizations like the HRC understand the idea that we will only get what we want from the Congress and from the Presidency when the control of each is in Democratic hands, endorsing Republicans won’t get us to the goal. If for some strange reason the Senate were to slip back into Republican hands (which isn’t likely, given the specific races this election) and Susan Collins were to be re-elected, who thinks a Republican Senate will move forward on the GLBT agenda?

    Vote (and Endorse) DEMOCRATS!

  • ChristopherM

    John, where are ANY results we’ve ever seen from HRC’s so-called effective strategies? They accomplish nothing but throwing glitzy fundraisers for white Banana Republican gays to go and feel good about themselves.

  • Mark Snyder

    HRC endorsed McCain lover Joe Lieberman over pro-gay marriage Ned Lamont.

    What has HRC done for queer youth? What have they done to form coalitions with other movements so we can achieve collective liberation? What have they done for the trans community? Why do they sponsor the Log Cabin Republicans?

  • Greg

    John, as a NC native, I can tell you that Kay Hagan does not have a better record or strategy on LGBT issues than Jim Neal. From what I’ve heard, Kay Hagan has a relative who is fairly high-up at the HRC.

    The non-endorsement of Neal is inexcusible! People should donate lots of money to Neal at

    Kay Hagan has over $300K, Jim Neal has just $18K.

  • Dexpat Mike

    John at No 7 –

    Hagen turned down the offer to run until Jim Neal decided to run, and the party has refused to back him because he is gay. Lets be honest about this. The whole ‘civil rights’ thing in the Democratic Party is absurd.

    Hagen does not have a good record on supporting GLBT issues and Neal is in a tight primary even though he is vastly out-raised by Hagen, so how is that for electability.

    And I am sorry to say it, but positive discrimination in this case is a good thing. If I had to choose between a GLBT friendly straight senator and a GLBT friendly gay senator, hmmmm, which would I pick? Come on, there are no openly gay US senators and there are what, two reps, this should be entirely about supporting a viable gay candidate. Thats why even though I am from Connecticut and live in London I’ve had fundraisers for Neal and donated to the campaign.


  • Charley

    If Jim Neal were a lesbian, HRC would have endorsed her. Even though they have an amiable gay man as CEO, Joe, we gay men are still seen as second class in our community. Older gay men like me are seen as third class citizens. LOL
    This lesbian takeover happened in the 90’s with the editor and staff of the Advocate, highlighted by Ellen and Rosie being accepted by mainstream America. What gay man has risen to the adoration that those two hold with the public ? None.
    Jim Neal is a very viable candidate and that is why I supported him to the maximum amount allowed by law, $2,300.00.

  • Dave

    Jim Neal is the BETTER candidate in this race. Sure, he is gay, but he actually has pragmatic progressive positions on the issues. He is also a passionate speaker and very inspiring.

    Jim Neal is BETTER on the issues, BETTER speaker, and is openly gay.

    HRC, what the hell?

  • queerunity

    they are being “pansys”

  • Polar

    So, what else is new? We’re talking about the organization that endorsed Mary Bono instead of Ron Odenn, Alphonse D’Amato instead of Charles Schumer, and whose ED decided to lie deliberately, blatantly and openly to 1000 transgender people in a hotel ballroom in Atlanta, captured on YouTube.

    CUT OFF THEIR MONEY. Now. It’s the only thing that will make them listen.

Comments are closed.