"Am I the only one who finds this patronizing? The way I read that is that it’s no fault of Obama’s that he can’t or won’t generate the votes we need. Solmonese makes a perfectly fair point that we do have to apply pressure to our Senators and Representatives, but that does not mean we should not put pressure on our President as well. In fact, he seems all too willing to forgive Obama any failings whatsoever, and I find that quite cowardly. It seems to me he’d rather HRC be in and connected than actually stand for the frustrations of the community.
An appropriate interpretation of the above quote would be: If you don’t think the President has done enough to support our community, don’t expect HRC to do anything about it. We’re putting it back on you.
Thanks, then I’ll keep the money I’d give HRC for myself."
From my new blogging buddy, Zack Ford (who I would LOVE to convince to join the Ameriqueer family as he writes on education and atheism, two fascinating and under-discussed subjects), a great response to Solmonese's most recent piece trying to counter the quickly growing dissatisfation with his organization. I will admit, I've always given to HRC (and NYAC, Lambda Legal, and GLAAD and NGLTF, and NoOnOne Maine, and NoOn8, and Triangle Michigan, and GLSEN and PFLAG and...) and I will continue to support them, as I support as many of our LGBT organizations as I can. That said, I think being a donor, I have a stake in the organization, and therefore have a bigger obligation to speak out and complain when I'm not happy with the direction. I don't give thousands to HRC (I have in the past... long story) but I give what I can. HRC: STOP TRYING TO BE THE SPOKESMAN FOR ALL THINGS QUEER! Do what we pay you to do--to continue lobbying congress and working on the President. The more you try to comment on the current climate, the more you screw it up. Its best if you just stay out of the anti-Obama conversation altogether.
There are a lot of strong feelings out there. You're never going to mend the wounds until the bills are PASSED, SIGNED and LAW. So best to stay out. If Joe Solmonese wants to avoid controversy, he should start by not being controversial. ALL opinions of Obama's LGBT record are controversial (believe you me!). If you think he's doing a great job, that's controversial with folks who believe that he's abdicated his responsibilities with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," supporting Maine; Washington and Kalamazoo, and using his bully pulpit to push through a DOMA repeal, an ENDA and a Domestic Partnerships bill.
If, on the other hand, you think he's screwing it all up, you're not popular with folks who will be quick to explain to you that an executive who makes laws is called a tyrant or dictator, and we just got rid of one of those, so why do we want another? That its Congress that makes the laws and that we've won the President over already, but we need to do work now to get Congress to deliver these laws to the President.
The safest place in this debate is out of it, Mr. Solmonese. Don't defend Obama or criticize him. Concentrate on your strength, which is lobbying. When you comment, comment on bills and comment on legislators who are wavering on them, to try to get people to shore up their support with proper political pressure. You can't win weighing in on this one.
HRC has its place, trust me. If we're going to get laws passed, it won't be without HRC. However, HRC needs to take their organizational EGO down about ten notches. You can't speak for 'the gays' anymore. Back of trying to be the mommy-org. Its true, HRC needs a LOT of money to do what they do. Lobbyists aren't cheap, and you need more than one to have any clout. There needs to be a strong organizational backbone behind those lobbyists to support the work that they do. There needs to be a significant amount of fund-raising that happens to support all of this. I have no problem with the fancy HRC building, because--hell, I think that gays are pretty darn classy, why shouldn't our schmoozers have the classiest HQ? If it helps them schmooze better, go for it.
However, HRC, you are not going to be, nor should you be the 'umbrella' organization. You should not be setting the queer agenda or meddling in local leadership. You should support our ORGANIC GRASSROOTS goals, but not try to take the lead and be the mouthpiece.
And HRC won't get ANYTHING done without the radical activists. You can't convince politicians to MOVE on something unless there is a sense of urgency. Wine and cheese parties just don't communicate urgency to America. Boistrous, raucus marches on the steps of our nation's capital DO communicate urgency. The radical action of radical activists will drive your lawmakers into your offices saying: "How can I deal with this?" Joe, back off a bit and remember what HRC is there for--to serve the community as our VOICE in CONGRESS, not our mouthpiece on Wolf Blitzer. Let us speak for ourselves.
In order to be our VOICE in Congress, please speak for us, not for yourselves. If we're angry, we're angry, and you can't sugarcoat it. Use it. The anger is going to continue boiling up more and more and more until we see results. We want a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and DOMA, and a passage of ENDA, and we want it this YEAR. We're not willing to wait. And since we're not willing to wait, you should also not be willing to wait. You work for us. I pay (a very very very very tiny part of) your salary. Don't try to smooth things over, you're only going to wrinkle it more.