Human Rights Campaign Protested, Criticized for Honoring ‘Predatory’ Goldman Sachs: VIDEOS

This past weekend at its New York gala, the Human Rights Campaign honored Goldman Sachs with the 2011 Workplace Equality Innovation Award. Accompanying that honor was a video released by HRC's 'Americans for Marriage Equality' campaign featuring Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein (above) and an article in the New York Times:

Fred Sainz, an executive with the Human Rights Campaign, said the organization sought Mr. Blankfein, in part, because he is “an unexpected messenger.”

“Lloyd Blankfein is not someone average Americans would think is going to support marriage equality,” Mr. Sainz said. “The green visor crowd is not typically associated with socially progressive policies, and this is further proof that a diversity of Americans are coming to the same conclusion.”

The LGBT grassroots did not respond kindly to HRC's move.

Mcgregor_sachsThe honor to Goldman was met by a protest from approximately 80 members of Queer Occupy Wall Street, which countered the $650-a-plate dinner with an "Occupy Guerilla Potluck for Full Equality" outside the doors of the Waldorf Astoria where the event was taking place.

More photos by Erik McGregor HERE.

The Queer Caucus listed three demands regarding its protest:

The Queer Caucus: 1. Condemns HRC for honoring Goldman Sachs, 2. Calls upon HRC to adopt a strategy of Full Equality by 2014, and 3. Demands that HRC create a transparent process that includes the grassroots.

The NYPD broke up the protest, Joe Jervis reports:

Cops moved the protesters across the street to a location where the black-tie crowd could not hear their chants. Still some protesters entered the Waldorf lobby to make their case. Some gala attendees reportedly mocked the protest via Twitter.

And today, Marketing and communications consultant Andrew Beaver slammed HRC in the Huffington Post. Beaver said giving such an honor to "a predatory company like Goldman Sachs" shows that HRC "has seriously lost its way at a unique time in our country and the LGBT movement's history."

Writes Beaver:

HRC's willingness to whitewash the pasts of individuals and organizations in return for cold cash is nothing new. In some ways I don't fault the group's willingness to look these execs in the eye, take their money, and use it to promote LGBT equality. But this strategy has its limits. In honoring Goldman Sachs, HRC is incredibly tone-deaf to the enormous outrage nearly all Americans feel toward the banks and securities firms at the center of the economic meltdown…

…I'm not suggesting it is HRC's job to police the American economy, nor do I think an organization that represents the spectrum of LGBT opinion should become a mouthpiece for critiques of our economic system, but I do believe HRC should embrace fundamental progressive values, especially those that so directly impact a generation we encouraged to live by those values. In honoring Goldman Sachs, HRC is aligning itself with a company that has nearly bankrupted an entire future generation and would do it again. This past Saturday HRC sent the message of "do as I say, not as I do," and that is very sad.

What are your thoughts about the HRC-Goldman Sachs relationship?


  1. says

    Goldman Sachs has done far worse to millions and millions of people, many of them gay, than any good this token support of marriage rights ever will. HRC honoring Goldman shows little sense of proportion. Even if HRC somehow secretly agrees with Goldman Sachs’ economic pillaging, aligning themselves publicly with this company which is reviled by people on every side of the political spectrum just plain hurts gay rights. It’s an incredibly idiotic and impolitic move.

  2. RoseMarie says

    OH PLEASE! It’s occupy wall street…let’s see…human rights council that fights for my rights, or occupy wall street? I’ll go with HRC. those who criticize them are the gays who do NOTHINGGGG themselves except sit at home behind a computer screen and try to bring down the gay community. I can’t stand people who criticize gay rights orginizations but do nothing themselves. how does that make you any different than a homophobe? both wish to see gay rights groups go away

  3. L.C says

    I’m on Team Human Rights Council all the way on this one.

    Give me a break, they are honoring a company for something that has nothing to do with Occupys movement. Everything is not about you Occupy peeps.

  4. Thomas Cardellino says

    Reminds me of the NAACP’s dilemma with Louis Farrakhan’s followers, or Israel being embraced by Evangelicals because of Armageddon. Would either one of these entities, in dire need of personal & financial support, “glorify” such folks and joining them at the hip? I think not. HRC’s former President, Joe Solmonese, was the cause of my cutting off years of financial HRC support because of his adulation of the Democratic Party thereby making HRC an inferior partner to a political party that has dragged its feet enabling LGBT rights. Republicans tend to be overwhelmingly homophobic in oh-so-many ways, but the Democrats seem so paternally off-putting when it comes to the urgency of Equal Rights for all Americans: Now, now, be patient children! HRC’s acquiescence to the fuller agenda of the Democratic Party (and, I purposely wrote “Democratic” in order to distinguish myself from the Republicans who so overtly deny the “ic” as in “Democrat Party” when spitting out the name of their political foes) obviates the need for another expensive bureaucracy to “solely” advocate for LGBT Equal Rights. The HRC’s leadership has grown to love the company of the rich and powerful in order to redeem the likes of the multitude of Ken Mehlmans who purposefully stay closeted to amass millions of dollars in a homophobically inclined Republican dominated financial industry, while selling their souls and those of their fellow gay folks, only later to “bravely” come out once they’ve achieved 1% status. Money makes the world go ’round!

  5. SpunkyBunks says

    Goldman Sachs is here to stay, and I’m glad they’re embracing equality. OWS needs to stop wasting their time and protest Congress if it wants economic change. Private enterprise operates within the confines of present legislation. If you don’t like it, vote in the politician who will change it.

  6. JoshS says

    I’ve been plenty critical of HRC at times but for this I don’t fault them at all. Their mission isn’t about the financial crisis, it’s about equality. So when a large company like GS comes out with such a strong statement in our favor, you work with them.

    Occupy, get over it.

  7. Jeff K. says

    Goldman Sachs doesn’t have to stay if working people won’t tolerate it. The way forward and out of this economic mess is not voting and reformism, but radical change. Occupy your workplaces and dump the bosses off your backs so we can start building a better society today.

  8. Castlewoof says

    Our cause has to be bought. Nobody gets anything for free in this age of the world. If a Big company with lots of money wants to crawl into our pockets, make it cozy!

    We do not saturate enough in the public eye. Just this story made National news. What’s that do? Awareness. Awareness, education, understanding.

    Now go out there and get us some Huge oil companies!

  9. facts says

    I think that its par for the course for most national gay rights organization attitude that says: “We don’t care about anyone but us”

    Gay rights will inevitably happen, but it will go a lot slower with that attitude. One of the reason that many do not connect with what his described as the gay rights movement by the national organization is how little the national organizations seem to give a crap about human rights outside of a narrow band of issues that a narrow band of gay people say is important.

    In short, what do I think? I think its elitist and ignorant of the class issues harming the U.S. coming from companies like this, including a lot of gay people. But, hey, they treat a few tokens well so that makes it okay.

  10. say what says


    and GS gives money and lip service to xtianistas and thousands of other demographics and groups

    Its all part of PR because the FED is suing the shitz out of GS to the tune of billions for fraud

    all part of pr whitewashing = see we are wonderful loving people so pleaze don’t see our evil

    Taking bets on how quickly lloyd forgot al about it and said “next” for whatever group to smooze to look good

  11. Joey says

    So the goal of the HRC is to get the Oligarchy who run America to say that gay marriage is alright by them. In return we give them the Progressive stamp of approval and help them dismiss OWS and blame the government…

  12. Rob says

    I love that HRC has buckets of money and I give them all I can afford. Sure I hate capitalism and I donate lavishly to Bernie Sanders (he is a freakin stud) but capitalism is what we are stuck with and if you want a voice you need fundraising. What company in a capitalist system has clean hands? Walmart? Ikea? They are awful environmentally, to labor, etc. We should get every penny they can give us. Sure it’s dirty money. That’s capitalism. Yes let’s be like Sweden ASAP, but I want to marry my partner and not get my face bashed in. Goldman had a division of gay recruiting in 2001- my boyfriend headed it. We are great with computers and there are lots of us in wealthy families.

    As for gays criticizing the democrats and voting republican- can’t help you. Who specifically do you like? Palin? Gingrich? Romney? They are after us tooth and nail. See who they put on the Supreme Court and watch Garner v Texas (a 5-4 decision) get overturned and our rights disappear. Gay republicans are like Palistinian Jews. Yeesh.

  13. CJS says

    I really don’t understand the objection here. Whatever you think of Goldman Sachs, the fact remains they are one of the most respected institutions by the constituency that stands in the way of equality … Republicans. When Goldman speaks, they listen. Why on earth would we say to Goldman, “Sorry, we don’t accept your support our cause because we disagree with your business model.” It makes no sense, and if that’s the way you approach the fight for equality, you’re going to preemptively alienate all of the people you’re trying to convince because you think they aren’t good enough to support you anyway.

  14. Reality says

    This is a stupid thing to get up-in-arms over. There are much bigger fish to fry than getting angry at someone who supports equal marriage. give me a BREAK!

  15. Joe in SF says

    I am torn. GS has done much damage to our country as of late but they also do good things too…like helping to solve big societal problems and create wealth. This company’s ethics are so ugly…but then their opinion does matter with financial types and institutions. And they have a pioneer on gay rights in their industry.

    Given HRC’s problems with the gay grass roots, I think this honoring of GS underscores HRC’s lack of sensitivity in handling sensitive PR matters. Hopefully, Joe’s successor will be more adroit than he is at this.

  16. MiddleoftheRoader says

    So, gay rights organizations are not supposed to align with, or say anything praiseworthy about: Christians, Republicans, capitalists, etc etc. Not a good way to make friends and influence people. Oh, and by zoning out these folks, we’ll certainly be left with less than 50% of the population. Not a good way to win gay rights.

  17. mike says

    There’s so much slick writing here in the comments and people playing fast and loose with the facts. No one said don’t accept the support of GS — they asked, why give them an award? It’s one thing is GS wants to publicly speak out — good for them, good for us. Quite another thing to give them an award.

    All you who say it’s fine: If BP made a gay-positive video within days of the oil spill, should we give them award, have a fancy dinner, while the gulf filled with oil? Come on people. Get a brain, join the rest of America. Sometimes we’re all in this together — as when a company torpedoes the economy or the Gulf of Mexico — and not just for ourselves. There’s plenty of money to take, later, from others.

  18. Chris says

    Good for HRC! GS is not a model company but it’s very influential and a good “non-traditional” ally. Like it or not, corporate America has a lot of influence in Congress and we need all the allies we can get. The means justify the end.

  19. ratbastard says

    Does anyone question why GS and corporate America ‘celebrate diversity’,going so far as to have gay recruiters? These are the mortal enemies of progressives and the left, yet as anyone familiar with the corporate world knows, their culture is hardcore P.C.

  20. Anon says

    One of my exes is a senior VP at GS. He has an advanced case of AIDS and they’ve provided advanced healthcare. He appears on TV all the time and looks great. I hate the company, but there are many that are much worse.

  21. Bill Perdue says

    HRC is so rightwing front they’ve already endorsed Obama. Essentially a front group for the Democrat Party, they have a long history of playing rough to silence their opponents.

    In 2008, Bil Browning of Bilerico reported that “Catherine Cusic, a 63 year old lesbian from San Francisco, was forcibly evicted from this weekend’s HRC dinner gala after she stood up during Joe Solmonese’s keynote speech. According to witnesses and Ms. Cusic, while she had leaflets in her hand about HRC’s ENDA debacle, she had not given any out before hired security grabbed her by the arms and literally dragged her from the room, down a flight of stairs and threw her onto the street.”

    It helps to understand this if you know that what they’re fighting to maintain and conceal. Here are the salary 2010 figures of some of HRCs self-selected ‘leaders, as reported by James Petrelis two years ago:
    Joseph Solmonese – $303,966 plus a couple of hundred grand from the HRC Foundation
    Cathy Nelson – $271,906
    David Smith – $245,030
    Martin Rouse – $184,631
    Susanne Salkind – $207,298
    Alison Herwitt – $178,980
    James Rinefierd – $169,213

    Anything that furthers the isolatation of HRC, LCR, the Democrats and the Republicans helps the movement for equality.

  22. ratbastard says

    One of my exes is a senior VP at GS. He has an advanced case of AIDS and they’ve provided advanced healthcare. He appears on TV all the time and looks great. I hate the company, but there are many that are much worse.

    Posted by: Anon | Feb 7, 2012 2:28:07 AM


    Think the fact he was a senior VP has anything to do with it? And yeah, in my experience, these major financial services firms, especially in NY, are top heavy with gay men and lesbians. Problem is [I consider it a problem] they’re just as sociopathic / psychopathic as straight men and woman. Also, the level of substance abuse, legal and illegal, is off the charts.

  23. ratbastard says

    It helps to understand this if you know that what they’re fighting to maintain and conceal. Here are the salary 2010 figures of some of HRCs self-selected ‘leaders, as reported by James Petrelis two years ago:
    Joseph Solmonese – $303,966 plus a couple of hundred grand from the HRC Foundation
    Cathy Nelson – $271,906
    David Smith – $245,030
    Martin Rouse – $184,631
    Susanne Salkind – $207,298
    Alison Herwitt – $178,980
    James Rinefierd – $169,213

    Anything that furthers the isolatation of HRC, LCR, the Democrats and the Republicans helps the movement for equality.

    Posted by: Bill Perdue | Feb 7, 2012 4:28:02 AM


    I was going to donate to a local homeless shelter here until I discovered it’s ‘CEO’ was receiving over 300,000 [plus God knows what else] and lived in one of the finest suburbs of Boston.

  24. David Jarrett says

    Bravo to HRC and especially Goldman Sachs. HRC honored Goldman Sachs, not for their current strong support of gay marriage, but the fact that over the last decade GS has been highly supportive of its gay employees and gay rights in general. GS has been on the forefront of this effort, pioneering at a time when many corporations shyed away from gay support. We, as gays, are never going to obtain any rights unless we convince powerful straights to join us in our voyage. To protest a gay group such as HRC is not a smart tactic. Instead, the OWS group should focus on protesting violently anti-gay groups. Has anyone in the protest group heard of the fundamental Christian Right????

  25. Victoria says

    The idea that Equality has to be bought is shameful. Someone earlier in the comments mentioned that if BP had made a pro-Equality ad after the oil spill, would we be having lavish cocktail parties in their honor? It’s gross to think about. The OWS movement is going after the money behind politics. Politics should not be bought. Where does the voice of the people go if the only voice heard is the American Dollar? I completely agree with the Queer Caucus of OWS in going after the money behind our community’s politics. Do you really need to dress up in a tuxedo to participate in a corporate circle jerk? A bunch of wealthy, white people in a room talking about the misogynistic institution of marriage is hardly a path to full federal Equality for everyone in our community. Yes, marriage Equality is important, but it’s not the end of our struggle. GS gives money to EVERYONE to cover their ass. They are not heroes. They want to own everything and pull the political strings on all sides. Looks like HRC is bought and paid for. We should occupy their FACE.

  26. mcNnyc says

    HUGE misstep for HRC.
    They continue to put corporate interests about ALL in their programing, dinners, publications, at the expense of the community.
    This was a strategic blunder to recognize Goldmann Sachs this year but there was likely a contract or letter of agreement that was signed by HRC at some point to give recognition to GS and the marker was due.
    It was a shame and frankly a PR mistake as well as a professional blunder of the HRC Communication staff that allowed the message of Mr. Blankfein support to be overshadowed in this way.
    They buried the lead in this. Although they had this video it was not even shown or mentioned at the dinner Saturday night.
    Also missing from the event—ANY call to action for support for Marriage Equality in NJ even though this gala was the HRC dinner for Greater NY…which includes NJ but who knew that “greater NY” meant only for the greater corporate good of NY alone.
    And the Goldman Sachs private security force (either paid for by HRC or Goldmann) was ridiculously invasive you’d think Blankfein himself would be there and not a low level diversity director. If you give a Corporate Award how about someone either from the Board show up to show how far any support is and not the person who wrote the diversity handbook. It was a low point after THE Anna Wintour accepted hers.
    I’m just sorry she had to share the night with Goldman Sachs.

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