Chad Griffin Hub




Pro-LGBT Republican Donors To Meet At Secret Washington Conference Today

Singer

Pro-LGBT Republican advocates are today to host the confidential and off-the-record American Unity Conference of high-dollar donors seeking to make the party more LGBT-inclusive, reports the Washington Blade.

The same advocates are behind the American Unity Fund and the American Unity PAC, related groups that seek to elect pro-LGBT Republican candidates and encourage party support for LGBT rights. Both organizations are funded by philanthropist and billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer, who backs LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)Singer - whose sone Andrew is gay - is also scheduled to deliver remarks this morning to kick off the event.

GriffinAccording to sources, Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), is due to speak at the event although his role will be limited to an introduction of Theodore Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general who was lead counsel in the federal lawsuit against California’s Proposition 8 and pending litigation challenging Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. 

Singer and Griffin have worked together on LGBT advocacy issues in the past. In January, HRC under Griffin organized two events on international LGBT rights with Singer at the World Economic Forum.  Americans for Workplace Opportunity, which was set up by Griffin as a collaborative project with other pro-LGBT groups to pass ENDA, also reportedly received a donation of $375,000 from Singer to encourage House members to vote for the bill.

Other scheduled speakers include Ken Mehlman, the former chair of the Republican National Committee who later came out as gay and has since worked to advance marriage equality; Rep. Charlie Dent, one of four House Republicans advocating for same-sex marriage and a House Republican co-sponsor of ENDA; and Dan Innis, a gay former dean of business at the University of New Hampshire who recently lost his bid to represent the state’s 1st congressional district in the U.S. House.


Barney Frank Criticizes HRC President Chad Griffin's Apology to the Trans Community for ENDA 2007

Frank_griffin

In an interview with The GA Voice, Barney Frank sounds off on Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin's recent apology to the transgender community for HRC's endorsement of a stripped down version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act back in 2007 that did not provide gender identity protections alongside sexual orientation.

That bill, introduced by Frank, passed the House 235-184 but was never voted on in the Senate. 

Said Frank:

Chad Griffin’s one of those people whose political judgment seems to be off. The fact is that HRC and I and everybody else were for an inclusive bill in 2007. The issue was we did not have the votes for an inclusive bill. It wasn’t a failure of will. Then the question was, was something better than nothing? Was it better to pass a bill that was protective of lesbian, gay and bisexual people or pass nothing? We tried very hard.

JohnsonPeople have this mistaken view of the civil rights movement and say, ‘Well the black people never compromised, they got the whole thing.’ That is just silly nonsense. The first civil rights bill that was passed in ’57 was fairly moderate but it had some good things, and then one passed in ’60, and then one passed in ’64. People are now saying, ‘Well we don’t want ENDA to be just about employment, we want it cover housing, etc.” Well that national federal civil rights bill that Lyndon Johnson signed in 1964 that we’re all celebrating today didn’t include housing! Housing didn’t come until a separate bill was passed after Martin Luther King was murdered in 1968. The notion that you can win your entire victory at once is historically and politically flawed.

The transgender community had this mistaken view that if Nancy Pelosi waved a magic wand, transgender would be included. And we were insisting to them that, look we don’t have the votes, help us lobby. Instead of trying to put pressure on the people who were against them, they thought they could just insist that we do it. We said, ‘We’re trying, but we need your help.’

Frank goes on in the interview to discuss how the topic of trans rights has come a long way in the seven years since then, as well as reveal what he misses most about being a congressman - the friendships and the ability to influence policy. 

Check out the full interview HERE


HRC President Chad Griffin Apologizes To The Transgender Community: READ

Screenshot 2014-09-08 23.25.14

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, formally apologized to members of the transgender community last Friday at this year’s Southern Comfort Conference in Atlanta. The HRC has long-since dealt with widespread criticism of its seeming willingness to put trans-advocacy on the back burner in favor of issues affecting cisgender members of the queer community.

In 2007, the HRC publicly endorsed an early version of the Employee Non Discrimination Act that did not provide protections for individuals facing gender-based discrimination. At that time the HRC defended its decision arguing that by removing protections for trans individuals initially, ENDA would be easier to pass and subsequently update to bring transgender people into the fold.

“I am sorry for the times you have been underrepresented or unrepresented by this organization. What happens to trans people is absolutely central to the LGBT struggle,” Griffin intoned. “And as the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, HRC has a responsibility to do that struggle justice, or else we are failing at our fundamental mission.”

Griffin went on to assert that a fully inclusive version of ENDA was far from being all that the HRC could do to show its renewed support for the trans community. Acknowledging many of the socio-infrastructural challenges the trans community faces, Griffin expressed the HRC’s desire to pursue substantive legislative change meant specifically to benefit trans individuals.

In rooms like this one, for years, you have been making the case that we’ve got to change society at a fundamental level by lifting up more trans people, your lives, and your stories.

You’re right. And if there’s one thing we’ve all learned in this movement, it’s that once Americans come to really know us, it starts to become impossible to discriminate against us. And at our best, HRC offers an unmatched communications and public affairs platform to amplify LGBT stories across the country.

Read a transcript of Chad Griffin's apology to the transgender community AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "HRC President Chad Griffin Apologizes To The Transgender Community: READ" »


HRC's Chad Griffin Says Congress Must Narrow ENDA's Religious Exemption and Pass Full LGBT Civil Rights Bill

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin on Wednesday called on Congress to narrow the religious exemption in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act one day after several other top LGBT rights groups including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the ACLU pulled their support of the bill.

GriffinHRC had come under criticism for standing by the bill. Said Griffin in today's statement, posted at Buzzfeed:

The Human Rights Campaign supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for a very simple reason. It will guarantee millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all 50 states explicit, reliable protections from discrimination in the workplace. We call on our allies in Congress to improve this bill’s overly broad religious exemption. A strong ENDA is worth fighting for because we cannot ignore the urgent need of countless LGBT people who do not have the luxury of waiting for these protections.

...We cannot and will not ignore the imperative of this moment. As long as this Congress is in session, we will fight for ENDA — with a narrowed religious exemption — because these workplace protections will change millions of lives for the better. But this movement has a responsibility to also chart a course for the future.

Griffin also stated the need for a full LGBT civil rights bill:

But regardless of whether or not ENDA passes in this session of Congress, it is time for the LGBT movement to throw its weight behind a fully comprehensive LGBT civil rights bill. A bill that, at long last, would bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in all core civil rights categories — including housing, public accommodations, credit, education and, if ENDA fails to pass, in employment. This is a visionary idea that Congresswoman Bella Abzug brought to Congress in 1974. Its time has come.


Andrew Sullivan Faces Off With Prop 8 Plaintiffs, 'Case Against 8' Filmmakers: VIDEO

Andrew

The HBO documentary The Case Against 8, which chronicles the legal challenge to California’s Proposition 8, debuted on television earlier this week and also made an appearance last weekend at the Provincetown International Film Festival. Blogger and activist Andrew Sullivan sat down with two of the Prop. 8 plaintiffs, Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier, along with filmmakers Ryan White and Ben Cotner (our Jacob Combs interviewed them here) for a panel discussing the film. Sullivan challenged the panel, taking issue with what he saw as “propaganda.”

Particularly, Sullivan was concerned with how the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) along with its co-founder, Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin, were portrayed, calling the film “a PR campaign for AFER, for Chad Griffin” and “a PR campaign for this case and against anyone else’s.”

Out Magazine reports:

From the first moments of the discussion, the room was thick with tension. It’s easy to understand the anxiety given Sullivan’s first-out-of-the-gate lambasting of Jo Becker, the journalist also embedded in the legal proceedings, who wrote the book Forcing the Spring. Sullivan (and many other journalists with an historical eye for the fight for marriage equality) excoriated Becker, AFER, and now-HRC president Griffin for attempting to sideline the 30 years of equality struggles, calling Griffin a “Rosa Parks” figure, and essentially suggesting that the fight for marriage equality began and ended with AFER’s case. It was immediately apparent that Sullivan viewed this film in much the same manner that he viewed the Becker book...

What was described as a discussion with filmmakers ultimately ended up being quite one-sided. Sullivan said, “The unfairness is that the people who were involved in [United States v. Windsor, the case in which SCOTUS determined that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional] that worked to achieve the real result, barely even exist in this movie,” said Sullivan, “that the entire other groups who’ve been planning and working on this for 25 years are depicted in thus movie as ornery obstacles to the vision of Chad Griffin.”

As the air grew rancorous, one of the plaintiffs from Hollingsworth v. Perry, Sandra Stier, commented, 

"One of the things that saddened me is within our movement there is huge disagreement over whose story is more valid, whose story should get more attention, who tried harder, who’s been a bigger contributor,” she continued while Sullivan shook his head in disagreement. “I would just like to say to all of you is that Sandy and I set out to make a contribution to the degree we were able to make one." 

Sullivan also took to his blog to discuss the film, noting that in his view, The Case Against 8 is,

“a movie not about a civil rights moment, he argues, but about “the values of show business and mass marketing.” And when you’re marketing something, you show no wrinkles or flaws. You carefully stage every single thing to advance the product.”

You can watch the full discussion between Sullivan and the Case Against 8 filmmakers and Prop 8 plaintiffs, AFTER THE JUMP…

Continue reading "Andrew Sullivan Faces Off With Prop 8 Plaintiffs, 'Case Against 8' Filmmakers: VIDEO" »


Lessons from the Jo Becker Gay Marriage Book, Part 1: Driving Rosa Parks

BY LISA KEEN

Now that the great public gnashing of teeth has subsided over New York Times reporter Jo Becker’s history of the Proposition 8 litigation, Forcing the Spring, there’s an opportunity to chew on some of the book’s useful disclosures.

Parks_griffinFor all the consternation it has caused, Becker’s trespass in portraying American Foundation for Equal Rights founder Chad Griffin as the Rosa Parks in the fight for marriage equality is not much worse than all the many times newspapers, magazines, and even knowledgeable people in the LGBT community have casually pronounced Stonewall as the start of the gay civil rights movement and rioting drag queens as the pioneers. The movement started decades earlier, and its pioneers were people who pushed back against discrimination in many different ways.

It also appears that Becker’s idea for dubbing Griffin, now president of the Human Rights Campaign, as a Rosa Parks type hero came from a National Archives development official. On page 381 of Forcing the Spring, Becker recounts how Jesika Jennings was showing Griffin and the plaintiffs around the Archives’ “Courting Freedom” exhibit. According to the Archives website, the exhibit “explores the evolution of American civil liberties with highlights from the evidence and judgments in important court cases, including documentation from the police report on the arrest of Rosa Parks.” While showing the group through that room, wrote Becker, Jennings told the plaintiffs that she was honored to show them around and that their own records “will be here in twenty to twenty-five years.”

“It’s like having the opportunity to give Rosa Parks a tour of the Declaration and the Constitution,” Jennings said, according to Becker. And Jennings, who now works elsewhere, confirmed the Rosa Parks quote as “quite accurate.”

SmithIt’s also worth noting that much-respected gay legal activist Paul Smith (right) called the Proposition 8 litigation “hugely significant,” according to a quote on page 387. Smith is the attorney who successfully argued the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down sodomy laws in the landmark Lawrence v. Texas case. He was also, according to what Olson told Becker, the first co-counsel Olson sought to work with on the Prop 8 case, but Smith turned him down. According to Becker’s account, which she said she got from an interview with Smith, Smith had “entertained the idea of bringing a federal challenge to same-sex marriage bans” in the wake of his 2003 victory in Lawrence. He had just joined the board of Lambda Legal when Olson approached him about filing such a challenge in 2009. But Smith declined, telling Olson that he decided against filing a challenge to the marriage bans “after talking to a number of former Supreme Court clerks.” The clerks had convinced Smith that it would not be easy to win Justice Anthony Kennedy’s vote to strike down state laws banning marriage for same-sex couples.

SullivanBecker said Olson “considered” asking another respected openly gay attorney for his co-counsel: Kathleen Sullivan. Sullivan had been co-counsel on one of LGBT legal history’s biggest losses: Bowers v. Hardwick. That 1986 decision at the Supreme Court, upholding the right of states to prohibit private sexual relations between people of the same sex, was used to the detriment of gays for years, by courts far and wide on a range of issues –from employment, military, adoption, and custody of one’s own biological child. It essentially labeled all gays as law-breakers and, in some states, as felons. And the hostility and disregard for gay people in the language of the Hardwick decision affected public discourse for years to come.

Olson never asked Sullivan, concluding that, because her name was mentioned in the press as a potential nominee for President Obama to name to the Supreme Court, it wasn’t a good idea.

“If she joined the [Olson] team and then was nominated and confirmed,” wrote Becker of Olson’s thinking, “she would have to recuse herself in the event the case reached the Supreme Court, which would make the odds of winning much steeper.” (Left unsaid was what working on the Prop 8 legal team might have done to Sullivan’s chances of being nominated.)

Becker also famously paints a dramatic scene in which two well-respected legal activists from Lambda Legal and two of their allies from the ACLU storm out of a meeting early on with Griffin, several of his associates, and attorney Ted Boutrous from the Olson team. Becker wasn’t at that meeting, which took place on May 14, 2009. It was a meeting at which Griffin and his team were reportedly trying to seek support for their lawsuit from the LGBT legal establishment groups.

This was eight days before Olson’s team filed the lawsuit and arguably not the best time to make a sincere solicitation of input from lawyers who have been in the trenches representing the LGBT community’s legal rights for decades. It may have felt a little like, “Rosa Parks, we’re taking over this bus and driving all the way to the Supreme Court!” LGBT legal activists knew they were heading to the Supreme Court over marriage equality eventually, but they had been working meticulously on building the correct vehicle for the journey to maximize their chances for victory and avoid another Hardwick setback.

According to Becker’s account of the meeting where the AFER-Olson lawsuit was unveiled to LGBT legal groups, Hollywood producer Rob Reiner, who hosted the meeting at his home and was helping raise the money to fund the litigation, gave the four invited attorneys a synopsis of the plan, and Olson colleague Boutrous noted, “Someone is going to bring a federal marriage lawsuit and you won’t find a better advocate than Ted Olson.”

Next week: The big blow-up revisited: When Hollywood met the LGBT movement’s hired guns.

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


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