This interview took place on Sunday but there seems to be quite a bit of discussion of it around the blogosphere regarding some statements HRC President Joe Solmonese made to Don Lemon about diversity within the organization in response to a panel discussion the night before.
Here's the panel:
A couple of things are quite notable. Lemon asks about the diversity issue within HRC. Solmonese can't answer that question without either fibbing or going down a really uncomfortable path, so Joe chooses to answer the question in terms of paid membership, so he can reference the multitude of small dollar donors. Those donors weren't at the dinner, nor are they in leadership positions or on the board of the advocacy org.
The real boo-boo, however, is the claim that the crowd attending the annual dinner is more politically engaged, more boned-up on the issues, and even more incredibly, know more than you folks out there — living in places where you have no rights whatsoever — about what is at stake. Well, those who opened their wallets to see the fabulous Lady Gaga and the cast of Glee (after all, the dinner sold out before the President's appearance was billed), surely are in touch with the issues more than you are. Joe said so.
But seriously, there obviously were committed activists in that room, people who deeply care about those without the access and power to effect change in the same way they can. It's too bad that they get scooped up in the criticism of HRC's poor handling of the diversity issue. By raising the value of the attendees as "the players" who know better, he's essentially confirming all of the worst stereotypes.
Adds Michelangelo Signorile: "The idea that Solmonese is now trying to claim the people who go to the
HRC black-tie dinners are actually more politically aware than grass
roots activists is both hilarious and immensely elitist. But they are
pretty desperate these days, threatened by the the grass roots/net
I think that the major point to be taken away from events last weekend is this divide between the major lobbying organizations like HRC, and the grass roots, which proved this weekend that they are a younger force, able to mobilize, and not willing to wait until 2017 to get the rights we so desperately need. Certainly the young people who came from all around the country to participate in the National Equality March have a sense of what's at stake and a political awareness that's not spoon-fed to them by a lobbying group hungry for their donations in return.
NOTE: Solmonese will be a guest on Michelangelo Signorile's Sirius radio show at 4:30 ET today.