Saturday, May 01, 2010

White House Logs: 100+ HRC Visits

Last night over at Pam Spaulding's House Blend blog, she tied my recent look at the White House visitor logs pertaining to Human Rights Campaign leaders to a column by David Mixner.

Feels odd to be in bed, politically speaking, with Pam and David because I feel my views to be of a more radical bent than theirs, but it feels fabulous that Pam makes a point that should scare some sense into the HRC crowd. That point is that three very diverse gay thinkers and activists agree on one big thing: We want real leadership from HRC and no more kowtowing to the Obama administration and other Democrats.

David writes about one of many recent problems created by HRC that drives the divisions between them and much of the gay community:

At the height of this battle, for some reason Joe Solmonese traveled to London with the vote on ENDA, according to HRC happening in the next couple of weeks. Maybe there was a good reason or maybe Joe wasn't busy, but image is everything. This image leaves an impression of not leading and trusting too much in others. Joe: stay home, make this happen and restore our faith in HRC or get out.

Given that there has been no sighting of Solmonese in the community or on Capitol Hill or anywhere frankly, since he appeared via satellite from the UK a week ago Thursday on a gay leadership panel, I don't expect a miracle of him and HRC getting spines. Is he back on American soil? Other than the HRC p.r. cranking out a standard statement from him on Friday, what has he been up to, as our leader?

As we wait for answers, let's revisit the White House visitor logs because on Friday afternoon, thousands of new names and visits were made available for public inspection. I went over the logs and below have updated my earlier list of HRC visits.

Solmonese's visits climbed to 19, Raben's up by 2, Rosen's went up by one, as did Smith's and Moulton's. In the two-visits category, board member Gwen Baba is now included. New HRC names, with one visit each, for tours of the White House, have been added to the list of single-visit names.

Latest total of visits by HRC people? 104.

Name: Joe Solmonese
Visits: 19

Name: Hilary Rosen
Visits: 11

Name: Ty Cobb
Visits: 8

Name: David M. Smith
Visits: At least 8, maybe more.

Name: Terry Bean
Visits: 7

Name: Robert Raben
Visits: 6

Name: Brian Moulton,
Visits: 5

Name: Vic Basile
Visits: 4

Name: Allison Herwitt, Harry Knox
Visits: 3

Name: Phil Attey, Michael Palmer, Donna Payne, Judy Shepard, Mary Snider, David Stacy. New name added: Gwen Baba.
Visits: 2

Name: Elizabeth Birch, Ken Britt, Marjorie Chorlins, Stampp Corbin, Darrin Hurwitz, John Isa, Dana Perlman, Elizabeth Pursell, Marty Rouse, Susanne Salkind, Meghan Stabler, Cuc Vu, David L. Wilson. New names added: Kim Allman, Michael Cole, Darrin Hurwitz, Ellen Kahn, Sharon Groves, Samir Luther, Sultan Shakir, David Turley.
Visits: 1

If you know if and how these visits have benefited millions of gay people, kindly share that info with me. Other than warm memories and photo-ops for the HRC folks, what have the rest of gained by such high-volume access to White House meetings, cocktail parties and tours?

1 comment:

AndrewW said...

While I agree with the calls for accountability regarding HRC, I think the idea that HRC has "influence" is exaggerated or just plain false.

HRC's main effort is lobbying and we have seen very few examples of any success or influence (primarily a few local or State legislative issues). We have NO evidence that their expensive lobbying of the US Congress has produced any changed votes. 30 years and +$550 million and their lobbying of the Congress has been a 100% fail. That's the real problem here, not simply "leadership."

As a community we have invested in 1) legal efforts, 2) political efforts and 3) so-called "direct action." We have made some progress in the Courts, but that is the default goal - we would rather see equality embraced than enforced. Politically, we have failed miserably. After the mid-terms it will be 1994 all over again. Mixner and Spalding can promote a political solution all they want, but we are not making progress. Finally, we have self-proclaimed "activists" expressing anger and frustration in publicity stunts attempting to get media coverage. GetEqual and their small following have wasted $500,000 on these ineffective stunts. While Barney Frank called them "childish and stupid" he also pointed out "they don't change any minds or votes."

If we focus on accountability for HRC's "practices" instead of just condemning Joe Solmonese (and I am not a fan) we might actually make some progress.

Sooner or later we MUST get people to join us. We need support from our fellow citizens. The three strategies we employ DO NOT do that. As long as we keep thinking "somebody else" is going to create our equality, WE never will.

The truth is the majority of our fellow citizens will support our full equality, but we need to enroll them. We need to ask them. That's the real work that needs to be done. We don't need to demonstrate or lobby politicians, we need to talk to our neighbors, friends, co-workers and even strangers. Until we decide our equality is our job we will continue to invest in strategies that simply disappoint us.

It is time for the LGBT Community to wake up and figure out how to win. In order to do so we MUST embrace accountability and we must determine what is effective. The best way to do that is to judge tactics and methods by their ability to garner support - public support.

We can go from a weak minority to a powerful majority if we focus on winning, instead of just fighting. As a majority the politics will take care of themselves. Two-thirds of Americans will support equality. Why aren't we talking to them? Why aren't we asking them?