johnny come lately

Less Than 60 Days Before the National Equality March, HRC Decides to Support It


So the Human Rights Campaign is backing October’s Cleve Jones birthday celebration National Equality March. That’s an interesting turn of events.

Jones had been telling the press that both HRC and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force would be backing the October 11 rally. But when asked about its support by a reporter, HRC wasn’t talking. (And NGLTF didn’t have a clue.)

But now HRC just released a statement saying it will be supportive of NEM. Of course, if you read the actual wording of the statement, it’s not exactly gung-ho about the whole thing, and it’s clear HRC isn’t on board as a grand marshal. “HRC will train march participants to initiate and carry out successful in-district lobby visits—whether they come to DC in person, or take their activism on line,” says the release. Read: We’ll pass out pamphlets and also provide our web address.


And to cover his ass just in case the march is a giant failure, HRC president and “equality plan” hider Joe Solmonese says in the statement: “The Human Rights Campaign considers October 11 in Washington DC to be a starting point—not a destination. Those who join us in the nation’s capital have more work ahead of them after the crowds clear. They need to become citizen lobbyists, ready and able to tell their Senators and members of Congress what this community needs to see.”

(Note: Of course, even “citizen lobbyists” must register as lobbyists with the Sec. of the U.S. Senate if you spend more than 60 hours contacting your legislators in any six month time period.)

To be sure, Solmonese at least acknowledges many in the community think October’s event is a giant waste of resources. “I’ve heard criticism about this gathering diverting resources from existing goals such as marriage equality in Maine and New Jersey. It’s our intention and our obligation to ensure that in October, we amplify our energy not divert it. Will and commitment are unlimited resources. We intend to ensure that when the event in Washington is over, many more of us will know not only the work that lies ahead, but how to turn that energy into action.”

Read that to mean: Once you’re done with your Cleve Jones assignment, please leave us your email address so we can get you to stand outside Starbucks one afternoon a week asking passersby for their credit card information.

Is this all bad news and silliness? Of course not. HRC does do great things. And this National Equality March, no matter how quote-unquote distracting or wasteful, will likely become a rallying point of some kind for LGBTs. But HRC’s support, no matter how transparent or lackluster, is interesting because it’s a bridge between Gay Inc. and upstart-y legacy builder Cleve Jones, who with the help of a few others and individual donations, is putting this march together solo. And that’s pretty incredible.