HRC President Faces Ballot Tests On Evolving Political Terrain

CGriffinA new Washington Post article on the obstacles and tests facing new Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin gives a glimpse of how fresh ballot measures are being fought against a backdrop of fissures among LGBT activists:

…Griffin has been tasked with stopping the streak of losses in statewide tests of same-sex marriage. This fall, the 39-year-old Arkansas native will be faced with ballot initiatives in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington state that could overturn marriage rights for gays. He can count on mounds of money, with the HRC’s donors contributing about $40 million each year. But with it come almost as many opinions about how the contributions should be spent.

A few decades ago, awareness and empowerment were a unifying goal for the gay community. AIDS created new bonds as gay men and lesbians fought disease, hostility, ignorance and the institutional torpor in response to the plague. Slowly, the movement has matured, expanded the conversation to consider schoolyard bullying, teenage suicide and the challenges of starting a family. Still, unlike other civil rights groups, which are united by skin color or ethnicity or faith, the gay community remains difficult to steer.

As a Southern friend of mine might say, it can be like herding cats. On one side there are the "tuxedo gays" accused of championing marriage above all else and on the other, there are activists who would rather focus energies on employment non-discrimination action and other bread-and-butter policies.

Many agree, however, that if anyone can bridge the perceived divides, it's Griffin. Even Brian Brown, the head of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage, confessed, "[Griffin] knows what he’s doing," but the real verdict will be read come November.