NYT, '04: Human Rights Campaign "Effective Lobby on Capitol Hill"
Just a reminder that the last time the New York Times wrote about the Human Rights Campaign, it's leaders and agenda for pushing gay equality, was back on December 9, 2004, and the story was not all that flattering, but also didn't overlook the group's alleged effectiveness at lobbying Congress.
Two-plus years later, HRC is facing sustained criticism, on a host of important gay mattes, from within the gay community, and across the political, geographical and ideological spectrums of gay newspapers, activists and news bloggers. And a few staunch defenders of HRC are becoming more aggressive in praising the group, and dismissing both the diverse critics and numerous complaints leveled against HRC.
No matter where you stand on HRC these days, love it or loathe it or are just indifferent to it, there's no denying a debate is raging in the community over our largest political organization.
Yes, there are many elements here that would make for an excellent report on HRC today, in the Gray Lady, and many other mainstream news publications.
From the Dec. 9, 2004 edition of the Times:
Leaders of the gay rights movement are embroiled in a bitter and increasingly public debate over whether they should moderate their goals in the wake of bruising losses in November when 11 states approved constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriages.
In the past week alone, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay and lesbian advocacy group, has accepted the resignation of its executive director, appointed its first non-gay board co-chairman and adopted a new, more moderate strategy, with less emphasis on legalizing same-sex marriages and more on strengthening personal relationships. [...]
But others involved in the drive for gay and lesbian equality say the Human Rights Campaign's approach smacks of pre-emptive surrender and wrong-headed political calculation. [...]
The Human Rights Campaign, which is based in Washington, was instrumental in the defeat this year of the federal marriage amendment, which would have defined marriage as a union only between a man and a woman. The group was not as active in the ballot initiative battles in the states this fall. [...]
Steven Fisher, the campaign's communications director, said the group's emphasis in coming months would be on communicating the struggles of gays in their families, workplaces, churches and synagogues. The story of gay men and lesbians in the
United States is often told through the prism of sensationalism and stigma, Mr. Fisher said. [...]
He also said the group would adopt a selective and incremental approach to winning rights rather than reaching for the gold ring of marriage right away. He mentioned that the group would press more immediately for Social Security survivor benefits, hospital visitation privileges and tax breaks for gay couples.
The Human Rights Campaign has shown itself to be an effective lobby on Capitol Hill and successful in raising money to work for and publicize gay causes. The group's annual budget is about $30 million. But it finds itself in a difficult environment, with larger and more conservative Republican majorities in Congress and a White House that knows how to use same-sex marriage to its political advantage. [...]
Katharine Q. Seelye contributed reporting for this article.
Correction: December 17, 2004, Friday:
An article on Dec. 9 about the debate among gay rights leaders over efforts to legalize same-sex marriages referred incorrectly to the outcome of a meeting of the Human Rights Campaign a week earlier. After the meeting, leaders said they had agreed on a need to moderate their tactics and message after losing 11 ballot initiatives on Nov. 2. They did not conclude that they needed to moderate the pursuit of fundamental goals, including full rights for gay men and lesbians.