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.


  1. Reed B says

    My he DOES face some challenges. Disheartening that today HRC is touting its lunch-time protest of a Chick-Fil-A food cart vendor as if it were the second coming of Harvey Milk.

  2. Steve says

    They should use some of that money to spread the idea that you don’t vote on the civil rights of minorities. Direct democracy has its place, but this isn’t it. All states should have some committee to screen ballot initiatives and prevent improper ones.

  3. Homo Genius says

    Just think how far along we’d be if the boomer gays had fought for actual rights instead of just being able to trick at the bathhouse undisturbed

  4. Ben in Oakland says

    Homo genius– many of us boomer gays wree fighting the fight long before you were born.

    And, i might add,long before chad griffen was born.

    How shall I put this delicately? We were putting our asses on the line 30 and 40 years ago, so that you young whippersnappers– does that make me sound old?– could do what you want with yours.

    I’ve been trying to get HRC to listen about the bad campaigns they’ve been running and funding for the past 15 years. I tried to tell them they were going to make the same mistake with prop. 8. They told me i was nuts, that I didn’t know what I was talking about.

    And then we lost.

    I don’t really care what HRC has to say any more. i don’t bother communicating with them, and i certianly won’t give them any money.

  5. epic says

    but really why are we putting it on the HRC shoulders…they are an advocate for human rights and equality…it is not their responsibility…they are the hand to help the helpless and to educate the ignorant, they are only part of the solution, not the entire answer.

  6. Danny says

    Another fail from Towleroad’s worst writer.

    Belonsky, if you have access to google, you can quickly determine how much HRC has supported the marriage ballot campaigns. From 1998 to 2007, barely at all. From 2008 to the present, HRC has provided about 10% of a campaign’s money and some staff on loan. That translates to a few hundred thousand dollars apiece, when HRC sits on annual revenue of $35-40 million.

    This has been woefully inadequate. This year, HRC absolutely must step up and help Maryland. The other states seem to be doing fine with th e usual level of HRC help, but MD cannot win without expansive help from HRC. What HRC does in MD is how we should judge Griffin.

  7. Johnnie says

    HRC is a worthless organization that accomplishes very little at great expense. Real change will continue to come from grass roots activists and organizations, not beltway house gays who spend half their time finding a new way to honor corporate CEOs.

  8. Brad says

    Don’t give HRC a platform and don’t give them any money. They’ve dragged their feet on just about every major LGBT issue of the last 5 years. Worthless organization that exists only to fundraise so they can pay their management staff exorbitant salaries.