This note was emailed earlier today to Andrew Sullivan, who's been holding New York Times reporter Jo Becker accountable for numerous problems, omissions, distortions and wrongful glorification in her new book "Forcing the Spring" about gay and lesbian marriage after Prop 8 passed in California.
Hey Andrew -
You wrote last night about a former communications staffer at the Human Rights Campaign named Steven Fisher weighing in your criticism against Becker and HRC's history:
As for Fisher, take a look at this NYT story from December 2004, reporting that HRC had decided even at that late date to drop marriage equality as an issue. And who in that piece is quoted backing this surrender? Steve Fisher!
What caught my eye was your reference to December 2004 as "that late date" and not mentioning where HRC stood in February 2007 on gay marriage. You'll recall that a courageous and straight, young Republican legislator in Wyoming, Dan Zwonitizer, made an impassioned speech before voting against a bill that would have voided gay marriages performed in Massachusetts if the couples moved to his state. The Associated Press wrote:
Carrie Evans, state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group, echoed that: "Surely the Wyoming legislature has real problems to deal with."
After reading that quote, I spoke with Zwonitizer and he shared his remarks with me and they resonated around the gay blogsphere and in LGBT papers. I also took HRC to task for again minimizing discussion about gay marriage, this time at the state level and for failing to give recognition to the young GOP politician who stuck his neck out for us. See here and here.
My nemesis former Washington Blade publisher Chris Crain opined:
Longtime gay and HIV activist-blogger Michael Petrelis, who is also a long-standing [critic of HRC executive director Joe Solmonese], most recently questioned HRC's refusal to acknowledge the remarkable stand taken by several Republicans in the Wyoming state legislature, who blocked passage of a bill that would have refused recognition of gay marriage licenses issued by Massachusetts. One in particular, Republican Dan Zwonitzer, said, "If it costs me my seat, … I can say I stood up for basic rights, and history can be my judge."
HRC not only stayed mum about these courageous Republicans, it stuck to the usual party line that the Wyoming legislature had more important, "real issues" [sic] to worry about — a bit of tired rhetoric that minimizes our own struggle and always acts to cover weak-kneed Democrats who want to stop anti-gay laws without coming off as (ick!) pro-gay.
Silence or tired rhetoric, that's what we got from HRC in February 2007. By March 2007, when Solmonese finally got around to issuing a release about Zwoniter and the Wyoming gay marriage debate, it was in the form of a letter to him and another legislator and HRC omitted the word marriage. So much for HRC using every opportunity to argue forcefully for gay marriage when it cropped up in the news.
Yes, HRC was missing in action in December 2004 on gay marriage and that status continued for a solid three more years.