The Internet Wants Joe Solmonese To Resign. Why Not Everybody At HRC?

We’ve been suggesting as much for years, but now it’s not just Andrew Sullivan calling for the Human Rights Campaign chief’s ouster: Dustin Lance Black and a running list of nobodies and somebodies want Joe’s head. Which is what the Internet was built for: petitions that exist in name only! But c’mon, Internet. If you’re going to demand Joe leave his post, why not take the entire cabal with you? It’s not like Joe is really calling all the shots; he’s just the face. And the guy responsible for raking in the cash that HRC proceeds to waste. The real maestros behind the Gay Inc. group’s failed strategy, as we’ve noted before, include vice president of programs David M. Smith and legislative director Allison Herwitt. You can find the whole list of HRC toppers right here, just in case you want to send Christmas cards.

Pam Spaulding laid out a pretty terrific case for Solmonese’s voluntary resignation. But who needs excessive copy when you’ve got the facts: Solmonese joined HRC in 2005, and the greatest effect he’s had on Capitol Hill is keeping the dicks of Democratic leadership hard. And they aren’t even paying him.

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  • Nelson Garcia

    There you have it: This isn’t at all about wanting Solmonese to resign because he’s inept and incompetent; this is a bunch of bitchy bloggers and activists one, wanting a hostile takeover and put someone in Joe’s place they think can get can get the job done; and two, sniping, being argumentative, and wanting to splinter the community even further because some organization couldn’t get the black guy in office to tap dance to our music.

  • Jeffree

    Solmonese will only leave HRC voluntarily when he has a better job offer. Since his list of “accomplishments” [cough, cough] is on the skinny side, I doubt anyone is trying to woo him elsewhere.

    It’s not just the things he hasn’t done that’s the prob, it’s the tone that he sets for the organization: it seems elitist, urban-focused, male, white, and way too focused on press-releases rather than action. It would take someone with more fire in the belly to change up the culture of the HRC.

  • Ronbo


    I just love how you are able to capture us soooo accurately. How is your job (nobody say “blow”) going with the Obama Administration?

  • FAEN

    @Nelson Garcia:

    Nelson, I’m beginning to think you work for the HRC. For all the bluster you dish out, you seem to be defending Joe not just on this site but on others.

  • Michael

    @Nelson Garcia:
    Please, Mary. Princess Joe is utterly incompetent to do anything but shop and suck Democrat cock. He doesn’t give a rat’s ass about gay issues. Only his bank account. And the rest of HRC is just the same.

  • ktbisl32

    Even though this blog supports more liberal, activists groups such as GetEqual. (And, personally, I do too). We should recognize that anyone fighting or attempting (and failing) to fight for LGBTQ equality is good for the larger LGBTQ community. Maybe, LGBTQ donors should stop funding a do-nothing organizations like HRC. That would be productive since then each person could actually be funding leaders that help bring about change. But I don’t think it’d be in my interest or the interest of the LGBTQ community to just eliminate well-known organizations that are attempting to work in our favor (even if those attempts suck).

  • Kevin

    All of these “non-profit” advocates and activists are the same: they’re in it for the money. Stop giving ANY of them more money.

    Plus, does anybody really take Pam Spalding seriously? She has turned bitching into a career.

  • Nelson Garcia

    I’m being a shill for the HRC. Right…

    The fact that you, FAEN, and several others on Lez Get Real are arguing with me, disparaging and undermining my credibility and that Petrells blocked my comment, even though I basically agree with him and everyone else that Joe should go speaks volumes as to the sanctimonious bullshit this whole thing is.

    I’m basically telling people to mean it, this time; instead, it’s the status quo, much in the same way when I argued against the special interest groups: I got a fight and a pushback from all the activists and bloggers.

    When I wrote and or write about accepting responsibility for ones self, I get a fight and a pushback, instead.

    When I tell people not to obsess too much with the porn, I get a fight and a pushback.

    When I told everyone about the closet and the dysfunction that occurs within it, verifying what numerous activist and bloggers have said and written about it, I get my ass handed out to the opposition and blacklisted on almost all the activist groups, blogs and listservs.

    Fuck you. The fact is there’s too much arrogance, ignorance, apathy, and hypocrisy existing within this godforsaken community of mine there’s too much treachery going on and I can’t tell anymore friend from foe.

    That’s a problem people like you invited me into. You can’t have it both ways. No exceptions.

    If I can’t be sold on this call to arms against Solmonese, and everyone is trying to fight with me, then I don’t care how many people add their names to Petrelis’ list.

    It’s just not going to happen.

    Solmonese is going to ride this out, and do exactly what everyone else does which is to play ignorant.

    You know ignorance, right? It’s one of the requisites to being gay.

    All you and the other naysayers are doing is proving me right.

  • jason

    Joe Solomnese has hardly done anything for gay rights. Neither has HRC as a whole. All they do is issue soothing words that don’t mean anything. Also, what good have the Democrats actually done for us in all the years they’ve occupied the White House? I can’t think of many. Surely the time has come for the GLBT community as a whole to sever its ties to the Democratic Party.

    Maybe Solomnese and all the other losers at the HRC can get jobs waiting in restaurants. Shit, they’ve been servile enough to the Democratic Party liars all these years, so it shouldn’t be much of a stretch.

  • PatrickB

    @Nelson Garcia: “You know ignorance, right? It’s one of the requisites to being gay.”

    Seriously? Please elaborate.

  • Cam

    @Nelson Garcia:

    The issue is you were rambling on without making much of a point. Say what it is you are trying to say, short and to the point. If you can’t do that, then stop, rethink your point and retype it out.

    As for Joe, he has told us over and over how great this white house was going to be, and how they were going to do so much for us…oh and please send money. Not only has he been wrong about most things, but the fact that he allowed the White House to origionally say that there would be no movement on our issues and attempted to back them up was the last straw.

    The only reason that DADT got to the Hill this year is because the community wouldn’t listen to Joe, and Nacy Pelosi wouldn’t listen to the White House.

    HRC’s budget was around 50 million or so a year. The question is simple.

    Has Joe and what he’s been doing been worth 50 million per years?

  • Tom in Lazybrook

    So, in the last 5 years, while Mr. Solomonese has been the head of HRC, they’ve raised in excess of a quarter BILLION dollars and have nothing to show for it except memories of great dinner parties, frequent flyer points for state department domestic partners, and a hate crime bill so weak that Rick Perry in Texas signed the same thing into law. After 2 years of a liberal Democratic President, a 9/10 seat majority in the Senate, and a 30 seat majority in the House. HRC doesn’t seem to know how to lobby their way out of a paper bag. And the rot goes far beyond Solomonese. I’d also like the HRC Treasurer who signed off on a delay in pushing for DADT repeal in January 2009 to resign. I’d like those who think that ENDA should wait for 100 years until we get a ‘perfect’ bill before we even bring it up for a vote to resign (its great to include Transgender rights in ENDA if, and only if, you can get it passed).

    I think I’m going to hold a ‘white t-shirt’ party at my house on the same night as the HRC black tie event in my city and serve hot dogs and hamburgers and give the money to a group that: actually will spend the money on media instead of on administrative salaries, actually will hold Republicans AND Democrats accountable, will work to get what passed that can be passed instead of blocking bills that can help, and will not play the ‘getalong’ game.

  • PatrickB

    @Tom in Lazybrook: So you would be ok if a gay was fired for being a sissy not necessarily for having sex with men? That would be allowed under an ENDA that omits gender identity & expression. While you may think of yourself as masculine/straight-acting/house slave, I assure you that homophobes don’t make that distinction.

  • justiceontherocks

    We have a Democrat President? When did that happen? I thought the person in the White House ran a DOJ that equates homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality. I remember the guy in the White House advocating continued tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest people, though it’s demonstrated this hurts the economy.

    So when did a Democrat take the office?

  • Mike

    You can snipe at HRC all you want, but as long as DADT doesn’t get done, it looks like all the other orgs from radical to republican haven’t got the job done either. Talk about ineffective… instead of standing in a circle shooting each other let’s face outwards next time.

  • Tom in Lazybrook

    @PatrickB: An imperfect bill that doesn’t cover non-standard gender roles in dress still would have been of use to LOTS of gay men and lesbians. Part of being an effective advocate is taking victories when and where you can get them. HRC has shown that it cannot get ENDA passed or even voted on with the T included in a heavily Democratic Senate. So, therefore, until someone can show me that T inclusion doesn’t kill the bill, I’d advocate going for the easier to pass bill. Sometimes there are competing priorities within a larger group. Effective groups will attempt to do the greatest good as quick as possible.

  • Marlene

    @Tom in Lazybrook: Tom, dear… did you forget that professional gays like you and Uncle Joe wouldn’t be where you are today if it wasn’t for a couple of drag queens by the name of Sylvie Revera and Marsha P Johnson?

    You *do* know that many lesbians and gays are fired or not hired because they fail to dress as feminine or masculine that the employer assumes?

    You *do* know that the unemployment rate for transfolk is *triple* that of black males, and many are forced into the sex trade because of it?

    Professional gays like you owe much of what you take for granted for the queens and the dykes who literally fought in the streets!

  • PatrickB

    @Tom in Lazybrook: In states, like Maryland, where ENDA w/o gender-identity & -expression protections has already passed, LGBT groups have struggled tremendously to get an inclusive bill added on later. So, exclusive ENDA now is effectively exclusive ENDA forever.

    Do you really want to split LGBT people, de jure, between straight-acting and fabulous? Do you really want an ENDA that only covers the Joe Solomonese-gays and Portia-lesbians? Ellen, as you know, wears pants, and I might not like how mannish she is.

  • divkid

    leeeave joeeee aloooone.!!! he is clearly suffering under the yoke of our heavy burden as is apparent in how rapidly he’s morphing into kevin spacey — me thinks punishment enough!

  • jason



  • Cam

    @Mike: said..

    You can snipe at HRC all you want, but as long as DADT doesn’t get done, it looks like all the other orgs from radical to republican haven’t got the job done either. Talk about ineffective… instead of standing in a circle shooting each other let’s face outwards next time.””

    No Mike, that’s been HRC’s defense this entire time. Look. The other groups are about Grass Roots activism to a certain extent. HRC has been ALL about lobbying and the claim that their version (Federal Lobbying) is the way to do it. They have attacked grass roots demonstrations as well as the court cases.

    Well, they had a Dem president, and a Dem majority on both houses of congress and they couldn’t get them to repeal DADT. Those were the best lobbying conditions possible. REALY lobbying organizations could have done that job, they couldn’t…therefore they FAILED at the one thing that they claim is what they are good at.

    Trust me, if we had given 250 million dollars to ANY of the big 5 lobbying organizations in DC over the last five years, they could have gotten DADT replealed and probably got DOMA thrown out too.

  • Jeff

    @Mike: The other orgs are not the ones that get invited to meeting at the Whoite House and then lie about the progress. HRC is

  • Daez

    It is a hell of a lot easier to bitch about the job someone is doing then to step up and do a better job. DLB has done more to promote bareback sex than he has to promote gay causes. If you guys really think half naked semi pornographic street orgy parties help the cause then you are semi insane. No one wants to see yet another “A-gay” give another pointless speech.

    If you really want to initiate change then it starts from working inside of the communities that we live in. We need to show people that we are more like them than they think. Trying to force things through a legal perspective simply forces a back lash. HRC is actually trying to accomplish a sensible approach that doesn’t force legal action at every step and actually works quietly behind the scenes, and everyone trying to force the in your face approach is making the problem 100% worse by causing a backlash. Forcing the cause does nothing more than piss people off, and we get the response from those people that is NOM and WBC.

  • Cam

    @Daez: said..

    “It is a hell of a lot easier to bitch about the job someone is doing then to step up and do a better job. DLB has done more to promote bareback sex than he has to promote gay causes. If you guys really think half naked semi pornographic street orgy parties help the cause then you are semi insane. No one wants to see yet another “A-gay” give another pointless speech. ”

    What a sad angry little HRC troll you are. Gee, lets see what Dustin Lance Black has done ( I assume that the DLB) is HRC invitation shorthand.

    He penned a movie that won an Oscar…and while accepting his Oscar, on a telecast that goes out to billions, he was not only openly gay, but advocated for our cause. Not in backroom deals agreeing to keep quiet, but openly. Joe Solomnase on the other hand, accepts the White House dictates that NO PART of their meetings will be discussed outside, so hides from his donors what is really going on. At first tried to give cover for the White House to NOT move on our issues, and in every way pretty much broke every single rule of how to Lobby that exists.

    Dustin Lance Black is advocating for Gay causes in ADDITION to his job. for Solomnase it IS his job. He came out and attacked the Prop 8 Court Case because he said changes should go through lobbying and Congress, well he has failed in what is his job…lobbying, and those court cases he attacked seem to be the only things that may get us change.

    So, by the definition of his job, he has failed, end of story. If a lobbyist working for the big firms in DC had his record they would have been fired 3 years ago.

  • LezGetStupid

    Robin Mcgehee should replace Solmonese and they should close the HRC office and just work out of their suitcases like GetEqual does. Robin did 10 direct actions this year that accomplished more than HRC has EVER done. Plus, people are following her and most of their actions get thousands of people rallying together.

    Instead of giving to HRC give to Robin and other fierce lesbians or we’re going to stop fixing your cars and playing on your softball teams.

  • Cam


    The thing I liked about Robin McGheehee was that when the White house tried to tell her that this meeting would be off the record and kept quiet she refused.

  • Pitou

    @LezGetStupid: I would GLADLY pay Robin and Dan Choi and their like $300,000 a year/each salary for their actions. THEY deserve that, and it could help with their legal fees.. lol. Action set off a chain of actions.

    But yeah, right on. I agree.. someone thats not pussy-afraid to actually DO SOMETHING is who we need. Get your silly ass arrested for civil disobedience.. Joey baby wouldn’t dare, it might end up a stain on his A-Gay reputation.

    I’ve been done with HRC for quite sometime now, and dispute anyone who claims that HRC is good for us. Bullshit. Give me one example of their effectiveness. Their response is usually the Matthew Shepard hate crimes.. and my response to that is:

    “HRC didn’t do shit to get that where it is. That boys mother, bless her heart, Judy Shepard had been relentless year after year for 11 years to have that passed, continuously slamming her head against a republi-thug brick wall until there were enough votes to get it through. HRC did nothing except stand by her side for the signing and the photo op.”

    I know Judy speaks often at HRC events (galas) and I read somewhere I believe in her book how she is now a board member of HRC..??? If this is so, I’d be really curious to find her gods-honest true opinion of Gay, Inc. in general, the board members, the foundation, Joey Baby, etc.

    I’m not saying she is my “pick” to replace Joe, Im just curious how she got sucked into that behemouth, and why she stays when nothing is continuously happening over at HRC HQ. Is it that hate crimes is done, so shes done? Where is that relentless fighter that she was while fighting for hate crimes legislation?

  • PatrickB

    @Daez: “Forcing the cause does nothing more than piss people off, and we get the response from those people that is NOM and WBC.”

    And sitting on your ass “behind the scenes” will, also, get a response from NOM and WBC. They don’t hate us because of legislation X, they hate us for who we are.

  • LezGetStupid

    @Cam: Thank-you Cam. We don’t need Joey and the H-R-C, we need our own M-L-K, Robin Mcgehee. The White House and all of congress is afraid of her, so they completely ignore her like what happened in the 60s. If they keep ignoring Robin I predict millions of lesbians will march on Washington DC and nobody wants to see that.

  • Jorge

    @ktbisl32: Please identify any Q donor to HRC who exists anywhere in the world.

  • WillBFair

    I think the issue is complicated, and scape goating one A gay is not going to help.
    First, no one seems to realize that we are hugely overmatched. We’re 4% of the population, and many of those who are against us actually hate us with burning venom. That’s why democrats can’t do much for us. It’s not because they’re homophobes.
    Second, our community is self destructive from having grown up in homophobic society. It’s easy to blame hrc, but all of our loosing strategies of the past couple years were debated all over the net. Whenever there was the least possibility of a win, the community was quick to find a strategy that reversed the possibility.
    I won’t even mention the party in DC.
    I’m still reeling from the waste of time and money trying to get marraige in CA when we already had civil unions there, instead of recognizing public support for civil unions, working for them in the States, and using video of gay couples and soldiers as pr in the fight over enda, dodt, and enda.
    I’m still waiting for us to recognize our liberal christian allies, some of the best freinds we have, and for peer group pressure to make the christian haters in our community shut up. But no, let’s allow the knee jerk crowd to allienate one of the few allies we have.
    Because we are so few, our strategy is crucial. But so long as we don’t deal with internalized homophobia, the self destructive crowd will continue to control our movement, and our progress will be like snail soup on a glacier.
    Scapegoating a tuxedo won’t help.

  • Cam

    @WillBFair: said..

    “I think the issue is complicated, and scape goating one A gay is not going to help.
    First, no one seems to realize that we are hugely overmatched. We’re 4% of the population, and many of those who are against us actually hate us with burning venom. That’s why democrats can’t do much for us. It’s not because they’re homophobes.”

    No, it’s because they have never been required to do much for us. Please don’t tell me that when over 60% according to some polls of the citizens in the country think that DADT should be repealed that the Dems can do nothing for us.

    HRC gave the Dems cover, we were then told by Congress and the White House that nothing would be done and to basically shut up.

    Then that group Get equal shows up and starts empbarassing politicians by doing sit in’s in their offices in very gay friendly areas. What is the next thing that happens?? Well gee, suddenly Nancy Pelosi is telling the White House that a vote on DADT is coming whether they’re ready for it or not.

    So litterally the FIRST time we put pressure on the Congress they caved. Just imagine if HRC HAD been putting it’s donor lists and 50 million dollars worth of pressure on Congress for years what could have been accomplished.

  • WillBFair

    I agree somewhat. I think there’s plenty of blame to go around. As we’ve seen the last two years, the dems are homelessly weak. And sure, hrc is hopeless. But that doesn’t excuse our own mistakes. Wasting time on marraige when the public are sentimantal about it and are begging to give us the next best thing? Letting the self righteous crowd control every move we make? Complaining about hrc parties when we wasted tons of cash on the party in DC? Please.
    Blaming others is a very old trick to avoid looking at ourselves.

  • JusticeontheRocks

    @WillBFair – your seat at the back of the bus is ready.

  • Cam


    You do realize that the only reason people are suddenly so EAGER to give us civil unions, which, for your info, do not convey many of the legal protections, is because we’ve begun pushing for marriage. Before we started speaking up, the same people that now want to give us civil unions were totally opposed for them.

    Your opinion seems to be that if we just sit quietly and do nothing people will knock on the door and bestow gifts of their acceptance upon us. We would still have segregated schools if the black community had sat back. Women would still be unable to own property or vote if they had felt like that.

  • WillBFair

    No. 34, 35
    Thanks for the weak analogies. They go well with the rationalizations and false conclusions from cherry picked info. It’s nice that you know why the public want to give us civil unions. It couldn’t be because they’re sentimental about marraige but also wish to be fair to us. They are the vast majority and didn’t have to offer us anything, no matter how much we complained about marraige.
    Please don’t put words in my mouth. My opinion is not that we do nothing. It’s that we do things that are effective, that we take advantage of opportunities, and that we don’t let ourselves be controlled by the self righteous, self destructive crowd.
    Your opinion seems to be that we continue to pick fights we can’t win, waste time and money on minor issues, and never bother with strategic considerations. That’s also the majority opinion. So have fun with it.

  • Danny

    The answer is simple: No one spend money outside of your state (or district for DC, or territory for Guam). That way, you focus on organizing on the state and local level, where it has the biggest impact (the federal level will take care of itself if each state focuses on its own federal reps and senators).

  • Cam


    Oh please, your comments have all been vague complaints. please tell us how speaking up has put us in a worse position than we were? Please tell us how having shows like the Daily Show attack the Senate for not moving on DADT is bad for us? Please tell us how by pressuring Congress and the White House we now have on the record comments from the Joint Cheifs of staff against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Comments that can be used in court to difuse any argument that repeal would be bad for the military.

    Again, your comments are meaningless because you don’t state what it is you think people should do. It’s “We shouldn’t pick fights we can’t win.” Ok, then give some specifics. Because honestly what you sound like right now is the kid who is getting picked on who saw some therepist on Daytime TV who said to just smile and try to be friends with the kids that are beating you up everyday and that will solve everything.

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