Saturday, January 05, 2008

Human Rights Campaign MIA in New Hampshire
-[Update at the end with info on where HRC's ED was this weekend.]-

It's been an eternity since the Iowa caucuses ended and the political world shifted attention to the primary in New Hampshire. Okay, two days isn't really that long in the real world, but in the race for president two days equals a zillion news cycles.
Not that the HRC reports from Iowa were anything more than gushing messages from star-struck volunteers about their goofy escapades trying to get political idols to sign t-shirts, but at least those reports gave us a small indication of HRC's participation in Iowa.
The lack of HRC blog entries or news releases from New Hampshire really isn't all that great a loss for political junkies, but it does raise a few questions about what exactly is the nation's largest gay political group doing on the campaign trail to promote our issues.
While the fanzine quality of HRC blog entries from Iowa certainly lacked depth and seriousness, I'm sorry to see they have not continued from the next state on the primary calendar.
I have a few hard questions for HRC about their involvement with the race in New Hampshire:
1. Has HRC done any polling of gay voters in NH? If they have, where are the results, and if HRC hasn't polled, why not?
2. Is HRC coordinating volunteer efforts with any of the candidates up there?
3. Will HRC be running any NH-based TV or radio spots, or ads in the newspapers and on blogs, promoting gay issues?
4. Are any top HRC leaders or board members engaged in any significant way with any candidates efforts in NH?
5. What is the budget for HRC's NH operations leading up to Tuesday's vote?
6. Is HRC engaged in or supporting general get-out-the-vote activities in NH?
What does it say about HRC, and it's alleged 600,000-plus members, that two days after Iowa declared Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee the winners, the group has said nothing from New Hampshire about how's its engaged in that state?
If the party girl and boy attitude of HRC from Iowa and their silence so far from New Hampshire are any indication of how HRC will be pushing gay concerns in the 2008 race for the White House, I'm afraid we're in for a long year of lazy advocacy from the group.
Read about our work for equality in Iowa and New Hampshire on HRC’s blog, HRC Back Story.
I guess that work is taking a break this important weekend.

UPDATE, January 6:

I am a gay man who supported an ENDA bill that included my transgender brothers and sisters, and thought the Human Rights Campaign threw them under the bus as the bill worked its way through Congress in the fall, so count me among those who believe much of the tranny anger directed at HRC and its leadership is well-deserved and spot-on.
And I fully endorse tranny leaders holding many meetings with HRC directors, but reading a report from a meeting held this weekend in San Francisco between those leaders and the head of HRC, Joe Solmonese, brought forth a few head-scratching questions to consider related to tranny and HRC leadership.
First, why, on this, the weekend leading up to the ever-increasingly important presidential primary in New Hampshire, is Solmonese on the other side of the continent? Was there really no other weekend for Solmonese to dialogue with San Francisco/Bay Area trannies?
Not that HRC asked my opinion, but I think the head of America's largest political advocacy should be promoting gay equality before the Democratic and GOP candidates for the White House up in the Granite State, not to mention pushing our gay agenda with the state's voters and the thousands of political operatives and media representatives covering the primary.

If Solmonese and HRC can't adequately engage NH voters, candidates and hordes of reporters up there, can they at least update their blog about gay-related aspects other people are doing there this weekend?
Second, if HRC is in the midst of a (public) discussion with trannies about ENDA and how the organization will work them in the future, where was the transparency for this meeting before it happened?
There were no announcements in the local gay or mainstream press about the meeting, no invitations posted on San Francisco's many gay political blog or HRC's own site.
Both the tranny leaders and the HRC executives who put on and attended this meeting should have thought about providing transparency to the proceedings. If it's one thing the gay community doesn't need from HRC, it is continued closed-door, invitation only discussions about our collective agenda.

Notes from the Trans Leadership meeting with HRC Joe Joe Solmonese 1/5/08 San Francisco

(I wrote this yesterday, as a letter to my ftm group)

I am just returned from the meeting the HRC called with San Francisco trans community leaders. I am very grateful to Cecelia Chung of the Transgender Law Center for bringing me in. Yea for south bay representation. :-) (I feel like I say that a lot in all of my
communities ;-) )

There were about 50 San Francisco area transgender leaders present, in addition to a few people from HRC. [...]
Initially, Joe spoke. Joe started off with a two pronged apology, one part being about poor communication at the height of the ENDA strategy conversion, and the other part about acknowledging they caused a lot of pain by the course they chose. He then spent some time explaining the legislative process in DC.

He also said that he did not expect to change any minds by the discussion today, though discussion was important; he knew that actions had gotten the community into the state it is in, and it will be actions that will get it out. [...]
I am not terribly optimistic that Joe took anything new 'in' at this meeting. I do believe he and the HRC are doing what they understand to be best.

Throughout the entire thing, Joe was very noncommittal, unlikely to answer things directly, entirely lacking in passion. I will say however that his very polished presentation is no doubt precisely what is needed on capitol hill. However, it's pretty terrible when speaking within the community. The lobbyist was a lot more 'real' feeling. [...]


DavidEhrenstein said...

What do you expect?

The HRC is less than useless.

Unknown said...

This comes from a friend down in Texas, John Selig:

In a message dated 1/5/2008 7:00:10 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, writes:

I have been disgusted with the HRC for a long time. They keep exceeding my disrespect for them.

In my opinion not only is Joe Solmonese the worst ED the HRC has ever had but he is the worst ED of any major LGBT national organization. He has no media presence and lets plenty of talking points go by. Their handling of ENDA was one of the most shameful chapters in LGBT history.

I am not at all surprised that they are useless in New Hampshire.

HRC no longer gets any donations from me!

Happy New Year and thanks for all you do Michael.

Warmest regards,

Anonymous said...

Maybe they all got real jobs?

Anonymous said...

Funny. Democrats with real jobs.

Anonymous said...

If they bothered to check, they could have reported that New Hampshire's first civil unions took place on the first of the year.

Of course, this is just an indicator of how many Massachusetts natives have relocated to the Granite State!