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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Human Rights Campaign Becomes a Cash Cow for the Democrats

They drop the ball on opposing the anti-gay ballot measures in the process. Boston Globe:

Playing down its support for gay marriage, the HRC mobilized its 650,000 members to staff phone banks, raise money, and participate in get-out-the-vote campaigns to elect candidates sympathetic to gay issues, even if they didn't support gay marriage. The group was the single biggest donor to Democratic state Senate races in New Hampshire, helping the party take control of both chambers of the Legislature for the first time since 1874.

The group also helped congressional candidates from Arizona to Florida and Ohio, and party activists believe the organization can play an even larger role in the 2008 elections. The idea, leaders say, is to become a steady source of funds and grass-roots support for Democrats -- more akin to a labor union than a single-issue activist group.

"They took it to the grass roots and had people in individual states helping, either by volunteering or sending personal contributions," said Tina Stoll , a Democratic fund-raiser. Instead of throwing its money at defeating ballot initiatives banning gay marriage, the HRC focused on electing Democratic majorities -- even if it meant helping candidates who weren't fully in support of their agenda, she said.

Former Washington Blade Editor Craig Crain comments:

The Human Rights Campaign has finally shed any semblance of staying non-partisan in the fight for gay civil rights. Leaders of the D.C.-based HRC told the Boston Globe in a story published last week that their new strategy is to "become a steady source of funds and grass-roots support for Democrats—more akin to a labor union than a single-issue activist group."

The "new HRC" isn't just belaboring the obvious—that the Democratic Party is clearly better on gay issues than the GOP. HRC’s head honchos have gone much further, deciding that the fate of the movement lies inexorably with the fate of Democrats generally, which means throwing money and support wherever Dems say it's needed, even if it means pulling money out of actual pitched battles over our civil rights.

How has the Democrat-ization of HRC worked out so far? For one, HRC took money out of the fight last November to defeat ballot initiatives that ban gay marriage, even those that amended state constitutions. HRC chief Joe Solmonese told the Globe he was "more effective by focusing on candidates."

So HRC sank money instead into quirky priorities of the Democratic National Committee not even marginally relevant to gay rights. As a result, the Globe reported, HRC turned out to be the single largest donor in New Hampshire state Senate races. How exactly does that bring gay Americans closer to equality?
"The most obvious danger is putting all the gay movement’s marbles in the Democratic Party basket, even though the party has almost never taken a political risk for its gay constituents."

The most obvious danger of the new DNC-controlled HRC is putting all the gay movement's marbles in the Democratic Party basket, even though from Bill Clinton and John Kerry on down, the party has almost never taken a political risk for its gay constituents.

Democrats don't even deliver for organized labor, HRC's supposed new role model. HRC must be the only lobby in the group anywhere, and certainly the only civil rights organization, modeling itself after labor unions. We can all see how powerful they aren't, after sinking themselves into a one-party, no message strategy.

HRC left gays in the states who had ballot initiatives hanging out to dry in order to elect democrats who will deliver little, since HRC has never expected much in return. When Patty Wetterling returned HRC's check as if it was dirty money, HRC just accepted that. How can an organization that promotes equality for gays, promote under the radar and closeted strategies for electing people?