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.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #activism #activists #clevejones stories and more


  • Greg Ever

    To be fair, I think HRC is in a sticky situation here. I think they realize that this march isn’t really ideal so they are hesitant about their support, but at the same time if they are seen as not supporting something like this people will question their support of the gay rights movement even more. So what are they supposed to do, just ignore it and make no comment about it at all?

  • Andrew


    I am willing to bet that Cleve Jones PAID for the HRC “Endorsement” with some of the $250,000 he’s raised. This will show up in the accounting … oh, we still don’t have an accounting?

  • Chance

    They aren’t so much supporting the march. Just saying that if people show up, they’ll take advantage of it. That’s all.

  • TnA

    I’m sure Cleve gave HRC a veeeery generous… donation.

  • John

    I would like to request immediate public access to the accounting of Cleve’s National Equality March. This endorsement smells funny – like $50,000 funny.

    Who has the numbers? Why haven’t they been disclosed?

  • InExile

    Any and all action is good for gay rights. I just do not understand why so many people are against this march. I know it should have been timed better but it is better than no march at all. In case no one noticed, our President isn’t doing anything for gays. Our rights are all up to us and us alone as usual.

  • Brian

    @InExile: Because the National Equality March really doesn’t have any purpose. Nobody will be in DC that weekend, there are other competing events planned, so far the March has garnered very little interest (estimates have been less than 10,000) and there is the part about the finances. Cleve Jones has raised $250,000 and will not provide a budget or any info regarding the spending. This is important because when the project was announced he said he only needed $50,000. The “extra” $200,000 needs to be accounted for. Some of it was apparently spent on the HRC endorsement – but, we don’t know how much.

    Share the numbers – now.

  • InExile

    @Brian: Who cares as long as it happens. You think it is better to put off the march for another year? Why?

    We have until early 2010 to get things moving because after that it is mid-term elections, then we have the 2012 presidential elections starting so nothing will happen then. The clock is ticking and we are running out of time. We have a President that is delaying any action and soon it will be too late.

  • Kropotkin

    Does anyone even listen to the HRC or care what they think anymore? They’re about the biggest discredited LGBT organization out there.

  • InExile

    @InExile: My point is we need more public pressure on congress and the administration now, not later.

  • Brian

    @InExile: Congress and the Administration WON’T BE THERE that weekend. Oh, and have you heard of email?

    Nobody is going. Spend your money in your neighborhood. Until they release some numbers – accounting and how many they expect to attend, this is all a waste of time and energy.

  • Mark C.

    October 9-10, 2009 Tucson, AZ Pride in the Desert
    October 10-11, 2009 Riverside, CA Riverside Pride Festival
    October 10-11, 2009 Philadelphia, PA Outfest Festival

  • Lonnie

    What a cynical bunch of bitches. How sad and pathetic. Y’all are the queer versions of the Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets. Seriously, why don’t you crusty old tired people just lay down and die since you’re only purpose in life seems to be to attack the ones who are building a grassroots movement. You are not radicals. You are cynical passive observers of other people’s actions. You are like the NYC Mattachine posting a poster on the door of the Stonewall Inn the day after the Riots that read: “We homosexuals plead with our people to please help maintain peaceful and quiet conduct on the streets of the Village—Mattachine.”

    If you’re not on board the train, at least get the hell out of the way so real leaders can lead. And I’m not referring to the names on the marquee.

    I am so glad HRC is endorsing. They can be in charge of the portapotties since they’re used to doing shit work.

  • James III

    Cleve Jones is my HERO. He is the reason I am going. I have been touched by his early years of being a Hustler in SF and then getting investigated over the AIDS Quilt money, but still paying attention to our movement. He also helped make that movie with his protege Dustin.

    I’m young and i’ll be working at the March.

    Brown Hair Blue Eyes Glasses 19 5′ 7″ 150 Activist

    Donations accepted.

  • Brian

    Cleve has been accepting “donations” since he was a hustler on the streets of San Fransisco. Somethings never change.

    Although $250,000 is a lot of money.

  • Chance

    @Lonnie: How the hell can you consider Cleve’s march GRASSROOTS??

  • Bob

    This event is doomed to fail. It’s in two months and there’s been almost nothing done to mobilize the community to support it, much less attend. We’re going to look ridiculous when the “march” falls flat on its face. The H8ers must be rubbing their hands together with glee as they watch this debacle unfold.

  • Brian

    @Bob: We’re all laughing at Cleve & Company. But, we want to know about the MONEY. $250,000.

  • Daniel

    Focus your attention on local organizing. Anything else is a waste of your energy. Local organizing helps 365 days each year, and you can build on it each and everyday. Start a GLBT & Ally group for your hometown. Use myspace and facebook. THAT will make a difference. Create a resource list of friendly groups and businesses in your area. Build from the ground up and you will create something lasting. There are lots of talented people in the USA who could do great things locally. Be one of them. Lets aim to double or triple the number of GLBT-Allied groups in the USA by the end of the year. That is a realistic goal that will have a huge impact.

  • SFNative


    Bob, maybe you might want to open your eyes about the March’s efforts to mobilize our community. There has been an effort. It’s people like you who are shooting it down and dooming it to fail. If you’re concerned about the March failing, then why don’t YOU do something about it? Don’t be a coward.

  • Brian

    @SFNative: Coward? For recognizing the obvious: the March is a non-event. The investigation into the funds raised IS the event.

    Spend your money locally. Make a difference in your neighborhood and hometown.

  • InExile

    @SFNative: I agree with you, the people bashing this event are the ones who are going to ruin it. Emails, letters, petitions, and telephone calls are not working. Our Congress, Senate, and President are not doing anything. It doesn’t matter if most of Washington will not be there, the time for equality is now not in 2012 or whatever. We need more press, more political rally’s, we need to start demanding not asking for equality.

    Maybe some people are comfortable sitting in the back of the Obus, I am not. Why do people want to wait and what are they waiting for?

  • Mark

    @InExile: It’s a non-event. Save your demands (and your money) for people in your neighborhood.

  • Demand Equality

    Everyone needs to know that Mark C. is Mark Cahill a fundamental Christian that shows up at gay marches to harass people.

    Straight ally Jim of Irregular Times has exposed him on his website as well as confirmed I.P. addresses when Mark Cahill switched to Mark C.

    Mark Cahill’s original post on I.T. blog used his whole name. You can see it here.

    Mark is also using the name Brian as Jim exposed on August 12.

    No. 64 · Brian

    @Demand Equality: How much did Cleve Jones PAY for the Endorsement? Will this show up in the accounting? Has anyone seen the accounting for the $250,000 that Cleve has collected?
    Posted: Aug 12, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    No. 65 · Jim


    Funny thing, but one Mark Cahill, fundamentalist Christian witness gay pride marches, just posted the same comment here:
    You just happened to think that same one up?

    Jim also has a great response to this tax-exempt issue that you can find here.

    Thanks Jim for watching our backs. Mark C. is a false witness!

  • SFGuy

    We laugh and ridicule the neocons and their conspiracy theories. We should do the same to our own members of our community who think their “comments” are funny and present them as facts — they are simply doing a disservice to our entire community and movement. Ooohh, Cleve Jones and HRC have conspired and money has changed hands for an “endorsement.” Are you people serious?

    Does anyone listen to HRC? Ask our Congressional allies. Yes, they listen. Unfortunately we haven’t had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Now, if you all will freshen up on Civics 101 and understand the relationships they have built over the years and working with mainstream media in getting our stories out, you’d understand about coalition building.

    It’s a sad commentary when we have straight allies working with our community trying to effect change, yet we have people within our own community trying to dismantle our only lobbying organization.


  • Andrew

    @SFGuy: You can’t be suggesting that HRC has actually accomplished anything in 30 years, are you? Oh, wait – you must mean the stickers that help us “cruise” other gays.

    There has not been any political progress for the LGBTQ community as a result of HRC. If you have some evidence, please share.

Comments are closed.