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Friday, March 02, 2007

No Wonder Joe Solmonese Doesn't Like Bloggers

The criticism from the blogs has gotten the Bay Area Reporter to write a hard hitting editorial about HRC. From the editorial:

Among national gay rights organizations, the Human Rights Campaign is the 800-pound gorilla in the room; and lately, it has been acting like one, flailing its arms at critics and derogatory candy ads.

Yet HRC was noticeably quiet last month when straight Wyoming Republican state Senator Dan Zwonitzer voiced support for gay marriage and killed legislation that would have prevented the state from recognizing gay marriages performed in other states.

HRC's actions have led to mounting questions in recent weeks about its purpose and ability to work in a bipartisan fashion. Its executive director, Joe Solmonese, hasn't done much to douse the firestorm of criticism.

He sent gay bloggers into a lather by saying corporate America – not government - is leading the way on gay rights and that blogs are a distraction at a Washington D.C. forum on the state of the LGBT movement.

The Scientist's View blog responded, "What Joe likes about the corporations is that they come to Joe to ask what they should do to enhance their gay benefits. And then Joe can get a contribution from the corporation to the HRC for his 'expertise' � it is just a shakedown."

Former Washington Blade editor Chris Crain, on his Citizen Crain blog, chastised HRC after it condemned the Mars Snickers ad aired during the Super Bowl. In the ad, after the two men inadvertently kiss, they pull some chest hair out to prove their manliness. [...]

Solmonese, in turn, personally attacked Crain in a letter sent to gay publications that run his column. [...]

Instead of zeroing in on his agency's critics and attacking the media, Solmonese should leverage HRC's muscle power be working the halls of Congress to build support for pro-gay legislation.

Apparently the nation's largest LGBT organization, with more than 650,000 members and a $30 million budget, the 25-year-old group doesn't have many gains in the way of federal rights.

Congress has yet to pass any pro-gay legislation. Instead, the LGBT community has been saddled with the antigay Defense of Marriage Act and the 1993 "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on gays serving openly in the military. Roughly 11,000 male and female service members have been dismissed under the ban.

For the first time since 1992, the Democrats, whom HRC kowtows to, now control Congress. Political pundits on both sides of the aisle say the stars have aligned for the passage of pro-gay legislation.

Both a hate crimes bill and a transgender-inclusive Employment Nondiscrimination Act could move through Congress. Repeal of DADT is also possible. [...]

Yet one player seems to be missing: HRC. So far the organization has signaled it will focus on hate crimes legislation and ENDA, not the repeal of DADT.

Rather than attack gay media outlets and LGBT pundits, Solmonese would better serve the cause by focusing on Congress and proving for once that HRC merits its gorilla reputation.

Unfortunately Lavender Magazine doesn't carry Crain's column. So we missed the Joe Salmonese temper tantrum.

Qweerty has an amusing account of the catfight.

If Solmonese's so concerned with credibility, perhaps he and his should start talking to the men and women on the ground, rather than sitting pretty in their ivory tower.

Of the sissy squabble, blogger Michael Petrelis has a similar take on this sissy squabble. He writes:

In case no one has explained this to you yet, Joe, HRC does not equal the movement and I see nothing in Crain's writing that is cause for disillusion.
The problem, as I see it, is that HRC and Solmonese believe they are above reproach and any criticism leveled against them is tantamount to betrayal, which is simply not the case.

Here are few recommendations for Solmonese and HRC: Start dealing honestly with the mounting valid complaints against your operations, develop a thicker skin and stop equating HRC as the entire movement.

Those are all great suggestions. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like Solmonese will listen. Perhaps a coup's in order?

This is rather amusing to watch. Salmonese must be responding because he might be getting the same questions from board members.