HRC’s Joe Solmonese: The 13 Corporations Backing TN’s Anti-Gay Bill Are Pro-Gay For Now Opposing It

Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese just released a badly-written statement about Tennessee’s corporate-sponsored anti-LGBT bill. In it, he says that the 13 corporations who originally sponsored the bill and now oppose because it makes them look like bigots it are “on the leading edge of positive change.” Ummmm…. no.

Here’s Joe’s acrobatic abortion of the English language:

“Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese released the following statement: “Discrimination should have no place in the Volunteer State and the Chamber’s opposition to this law sent a strong signal that corporations are on the leading edge of positive change. In contrast Governor Haslam has put discrimination ahead of the state’s values and even business interests by signing this horrible legislation.”

Being on the “leading edge of positive change” means, y’know, actually LEADING social change in a helpful direction. Supporting an anti-LGBT bill, stammering from the negative press after it passes, and then offering lukewarm statements opposing the very bill you helped pass is not “a strong signal that corporations are on the leading edge of positive change.” It’s a strong signal that your opinions and policies change depending on who’s paying attention, which is the very definition of spinelessness.

Keep in mind, the 13 corporate board members of Tennessee Chamber of Commerce all knew that the bill would repeal LGBT rights as far back as a month ago. And what’s worse is that this law doesn’t just repeal Nashville’s current LGBT employment protections, it also prohibits any future attempts to provide such protections by any city clear across the state.

AMERICAblog offers a handy list of what each corporation had to say about their involvement and also points out that the Chamber of Commerce itself issued a statement opposing the very bill they lobbied for a mere 20 SECONDS before the governor signed it into law. “Leading edge of positive change,” indeed.

Of course, the HRC rarely speaks for anyone in the actual LGBT community anymore, so there’s a way you can make your voice heard without their useless platitudes. Join AMERICAblog’s campaign to swarm the corporations’ Facebook pages and Twitter accounts with messages of disapproval until they get off their butts and try to repeal the law they just helped pass.

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  • Steve

    The saving grace in this is that the bill prohibits any future ordinance that would provide protections to gay pepople, by any city clear across the state. A very similar bill passed in Colorado some years ago. In that case, Romer v Evans, the Supreme Court ruled that the state may not deny a hated minority access to the political process.

    Look for action in Federal courts… I would expect a suit, and a temporary injunction, rather quickly.

  • Cam

    Has there ever been a situation in which Solomnase EVER put the gay community ahead of his connections? He is somebody who would rather have every single gay person in the country unhappy with him, than DARE to possibly upset somebody from a corporation or an elected official.

  • Mike in Asheville

    Indeed HRC and Solmonese actions and words regarding the Tennessee anti-gay legislation are inane and inept. The statement is also grotesquely misleading considering the Chamber actually did promote and lobby to get the bill passed. To say that the Chamber’s members are in opposition to the bill is a blatant lie; they lobbied for the bill, the bill passed, and has been signed into law. If the Chamber’s members were truly opposed to the bill, they need to ACT to undo that which they made happen.


    I HAD TO LAUGH, THOUGH, AT QUEERTY AND DANIEL WITH YOUR CRITIQUE: “…Solmonese just released a badly-written statement….”

    Here is your “acrobatic abortion of the English language”:

    WORD CHOICE: Its not “badly-written”; “poorly written” is proper;

    YOU WROTE: “In it, he says that the 13 corporations who [“who” is incorrect; “that” is proper] originally sponsored the bill and now oppose [oppose what?, oppose the legislation] because it makes them look like bigots [???] it are [???] “on the leading edge of positive change.”

    ALSO: “…as far back as a month ago.” is dangling. The sentence should have read: “Keep in mind, as far back as a month ago, the 13 corporate board members….”

    The entire post is very poorly written; perhaps you should get an editor, or at least a good word processing grammar check. But certainly, before rightly lambasting HRC/Solmonese for their inept writing, you should ensure that you too can write properly.

  • Wendy

    Mike..nobody is perfect. Your post should have read “Indeed, the HRC’s and Solmonese’s actions…”

    Try to focus on the point rather than nitpick. You only make yourself look foolish.

  • Shannon1981

    Too many gay organizations are more about the bottom line than actual progress. And Joe Solomese is a walking PR nightmare.

  • Elloreigh

    This is exactly the kind of nonsense that has brought me to a point where I consider the HRC increasingly irrelevant. If they were doing such a great job, LGBTs might not be suffering the kind of setbacks we’ve seen lately, Tennessee being a prime example of their failure to make a difference.

    To be blunt: It doesn’t matter that some of the company’s who put their weight behind the bills in Tennessee through their positions of power within the Chamber of Commerce gave lip service to opposing the bill at the last minute before it was signed. All that really matters is that those bills passed and became law, and that LGBTs thus find themselves screwed over by their government yet again.

    HRC can try to spin this however they like, but I can’t hear them over the din of their abject failure.

  • Danny

    Those corporations need to publicly demand the legislature and governor pass a statewide nondiscrimination law banning discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations (the three basic areas of Commerce for people) and oppose any politician who fails to pass the law, only then will anyone believe them.

  • Danny

    So their new slogans are apparently being updated…

    * Nissan – Driving Discrimination Home
    * FedEx – Delivering Discrimination to your Doorstep
    * AT&T – Calling for Discrimination
    * Whirlpool – Drowning You in Discrimination
    * UnitedHealthcare – Killing You with Discrimination before You Collect
    * Dupont – Better Chemistry leads to Better Discrimination
    * BlueCrossBlueShield – Protecting Discrimination 100%
    * Caterpilllar – Because Discrimination Bugs You
    * Comcast – Community Stonecasters
    * Pfizer – We Hope You Choke on Discrimination
    * KPMG – Destroying Your Trust with Discrimination
    * Alcoa – one part Aluminum added to eleven parts Discrimination
    * Embraer – Very Committed to Producing Things That Harm People

  • Tom in Lazybrook

    Human Rights Campaign. Complete failure.

  • Cam

    @Elloreigh: said…

    “This is exactly the kind of nonsense that has brought me to a point where I consider the HRC increasingly irrelevant”

    I hear that! But after his behavior over the past few years, i’m almost at the point to where I think they feel it is in HRC’s interest for gays NOT to get rights, so that Solomnase can keep his job. I know how cynical that sounds, but I noticed that the only time HRC really came through for us in the last few years was when the blogs started calling for his resignation. That was the only time he changed his tune.

  • Shannon1981

    @Cam: I think if they are paranoid about that its kinda silly. Look at the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus. They still exist and thrive, and there have been laws banning racial discrimination for quite awhile now. GLAAD and HRC and the rest will still serve a purpose even after we achieve rights, because, just because the law says it isn’t ok anymore doesn’t mean people won’t still be bigots. They’ll serve a purpose, but one of maintaining rather than achieving.

  • Cam


    Hi Shannon, I didn’t say they were being logical. ;)

  • Shannon1981

    @Cam: I pay my dues(though I am a broke college student and probably should not) but they’re getting ridiculous. Seriously. Joe needs to go. When I see his name in my email I roll my eyes, sign, and move on. Great causes, stupid people running the place though. I wish I could get into the gay non profit sector. I’d turn this bitch around.

    and hey yourself, how you be? :)

  • robert in NYC

    I emailed HRC regarding AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless donating to right wing antigay hate groups according to, an progressive wireless provider. The response I received was that HRC had no knowledge of it and said that AT&T and Verizon have good track records on LGBT benefits. You can bet they won’t be investigating the wireless branch of both corporations. Solmonese needs to go.

  • Ed

    Wow. All of your criticisms of the HRC leave me wondering what consistent actions you are all taking to secure LGBT equality under the law. Questioning the progress and relevance of the entire organization because you don’t appreciate the writing style of its face person. This is not productive. Not for equality and not for gaining respect for the LGBT community. Bashing someone is never productive, but I assume you all knew that as you went ahead and bashed. Solmonese’ statement that the original sponsors, who for all we know had a genuine change of heart when it was too late, “are on the leading edge of positive change” is a tactic. You catch more bees with honey than vinegar. Giving them a small verbal pat on the back invites more small changes, until a bigger push is appropriate (for their comfortability). It may not be pretty, but it’s the way things are done. I encourage all you bloggers and posters to use your energy in a more positive way next time you feel like writing. Maybe post a thank you to the HRC for effectively repealing DADT, or for their pressure in moving on DOMA. Or for continuing to push for better, more inclusive legislation like GENDA. No one person or organization is perfect, but they are the leading LGBT group in the nation for a reason. Their relentless efforts have secured pieces of equality that would be left in the dust had they not existed.

  • SteveC

    HRC as an organisation is utterly pathetic, unnecessary and useless.

    Joe Solmoese is a walking disaster.

    HRC need to disband.

  • Cam

    @Ed: said… “Wow. All of your criticisms of the HRC leave me wondering what consistent actions you are all taking to secure LGBT equality under the law. Questioning the progress and relevance of the entire organization because you don’t appreciate the writing style of its face person.”

    The typical response from one of the HRC support crew. “Well what are YOU doing?!”

    My answer

    1. it is ridiculous to think that nobody on here ISN’T doing anything.

    2. Solomnase, has actually hurt the cause by always giving cover to politicians that want to ignore us and companies that don’t want to work with us. Remember, at FIRST HRC totally backed Target. It was only after the grass roots got involved that they reluctantly tried to do something. That was of course trying to get Target to donate money to THEM to pay back for donating to anti-gay causes. THAT is something we certainly aren’t doing.

  • Tony

    Everybody else has already said it, but…

    Once again the HRC is too late, with too little. What do these people do?

    Write to these companies and demand they donate millions to whatever group or person takes the fight against this bill to court.

    The typical response from one of the HRC support crew. “Well what are YOU doing?!”
    My response: More than you guys are doing. Just typing this post is doing more than the HRC does.

    I gave people a idea of something they could do to help. It might not be effective but a least it’s an idea.

  • SayWhat

    What annoys me about “anti-gay” is why should anyone have to support any behaviour or belief? If you don’t support or agree with Islam are you Islamaphobic, Judaism..anti-Semitic? People don’t have to support gay rights. No more than they have to support incest or bestiality

  • Jeffree

    @SayWhat: Are you suggesting that it’s ok to strip Jews and African Americans of their rights? Was is wrong to allow white people marry Black people? To allow women to vote?

    Please explain your “logic.”

Comments are closed.