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HRC Takes Queerty‘s Advice, Launches New York Marriage Battalion

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In February we posted an item titled “Imagine If HRC Followed Tim Gill’s Strategy To Oust Anti-Gay Lawmakers.” We no longer have to imagine: The Human Rights Campaign is doing just that.

I don’t want to say that HRC is taking strategy tips from Queerty, but, well …

HRC has hired Brian Ellner (pictured, below right), the failed Empire State Pride Agenda leader hopeful and Mayor Michael Bloomberg staffer, to lead the Campaign for New York Marriage. The effort “will seek to re-elect state lawmakers who supported the bill on same-sex marriage last year, and to oust those who voted against it,” reports the Times.

Interesting! From our February post about Gill’s Fight Back New York PAC:

Think about how impressive this is: Independent gay activists — who, let’s be clear, have the financial means — unhappy with politicians whom vote against their civil rights and endorse discrimination will specifically target these officials in hopes they never see another day in office. Might the Human Rights Campaign, which tells us it’s fighting for our rights at the federal level, take a hint?

With an annual budget in the tens of millions, HRC has the power to go after senators and congressional representatives with a fair warning: voting against equality, or inaction, will make you eligible for a seven-figure campaign to unseat you from office. They need only make an example out of a few lawmakers — politically entrenched veteran lawmakers are the best choices — before others realize HRC (and its donors) is not fucking around, and hey, lip service just isn’t good enough anymore.

Fine, we suggested HRC do this on the macro level, and actually use its cash to oust federal lawmakers who vote against the gays. But that’s because we didn’t think Joe Solmonese and David Smith and all their policy wonks wanted to bother with lowly state issues.

While HRC isn’t saying how much it’s putting toward the effort, tax filings should reveal the numbers down the road. In the immediate, then, it’s worth noting that while the Times says HRC “would work closely with several existing efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, including the Empire State Pride Agenda and Fight Back New York,” it’s the organization’s M.O. to move in on the territory of others and claim credit for their victories.

Without question, it’s great to see HRC take seriously the impact state lawmakers have, and how a number of our Democratic “allies” are in fact our worst enemies (see: NY Sen. Ruben Diaz). It remains to be seen just how forceful HRC’s New York effort will be, given its continued kid-glove approach to federal Democratic legislators. At the state level, butting heads with Democrats has fewer risks.

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