March 4, 2012

HRC NAMES NEW PRESIDENT AND LGBT GRASSROOTS ARE CAUTIOUS BUT HOPEFUL


The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has named a much needed new President. They have chosen Chad Griffin, President of the Board of the American Foundation For Equal Rights (AFER). This is the organization behind the creative Prop 8 lawsuit. He is not exactly the "diversity" candidate but no one seriously expected that from HRC.

As the richest LGBT lobbying organization many are hoping there will be a change of strategy. As African American Lesbian Blogger Pam Spaulding says, "The HRC needs a shot in the arm of activism". The HRC is seen by many as a top down organization that believes in "access politics". In other words if you can buy access to the political elite (like Clinton, Obama, etc.) that is how change happens. This of course is the basis of the all lobbying strategies. However after years of this approach many believe that the only real Federal level change (DADT Repeal) happened as a result of grass roots activists engaged in a variety of direct action activities. As Michaelagelo Signorile said, "We had rage in our gut and we showed it". These actions that targeted Democratic reluctance as well as Republican intransigence showed that outside the beltway militancy effected inside the beltway voting.

There is hope that change is a com in'. Joe Sudbay of gay.americablog relates that he has a gay political friend, who is no friend of HRC who put it this way, "I think I might start to care about HRC again". A good start. But more important is the reaction of Robin McGehee who founded "Get Equal" in 2009 as a grass roots direct action organization which orchestrated activity around DADT repeal.
First, Chad has actually been talking to her (a good start) and this past week she stated, "I was hesitant to offer my customary congratulations. My words were brief, but heartfelt and serious: We must push for nothing less than full Federal equality and we have to create an effective insider/outsider strategy. Honestly, tonight I feel cautious and hopeful. Hopeful that our movement is headed to full equality because I do not only want the right to marry. I want it all. At this moment I don't think Chad Griffin is going to be afraid to go for it - at least I hope not!".
At least they are talking to each other.

Blogger Pam Spaulding seemed to be saying the same thing. "We need a pick that would not signal business as usual in the beltway, but that connects from the grass roots to the pols on the hill. I hope that Chad can reinvigorate the organization from within to move to a real fierce advocacy as opposed to a perceived go-along, get-along beltway organization. We are all hoping, clearly the grass roots is giving the opening and Chad and the HRC Board need to take the next step." We sure don't want to hear, "wait until after the elections". But a joint civil disobedience action would be a unity ticket!!

No comments: