Human Rights Campaign

Human Rights Campaign

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The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is the United States' largest LGBT
LGBT
LGBT is an initialism that collectively refers to "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender" people. In use since the 1990s, the term "LGBT" is an adaptation of the initialism "LGB", which itself started replacing the phrase "gay community" beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s, which many within the...

 advocacy group
Advocacy group
Advocacy groups use various forms of advocacy to influence public opinion and/or policy; they have played and continue to play an important part in the development of political and social systems...

 and lobbying
Lobbying
Lobbying is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. Lobbying is done by various people or groups, from private-sector individuals or corporations, fellow legislators or government officials, or...

 organization; according to the HRC, it has more than one million members and supporters. Its mission statement is "HRC envisions an America where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are ensured equality and embraced as full members of the American family at home, at work and in every community."

Structure


HRC consists of two separate non-profit organization
Non-profit organization
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...

s and a political action committee
Political action committee
In the United States, a political action committee, or PAC, is the name commonly given to a private group, regardless of size, organized to elect political candidates or to advance the outcome of a political issue or legislation. Legally, what constitutes a "PAC" for purposes of regulation is a...

: the HRC Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that focuses on research, advocacy and education; the Human Rights Campaign, a 501(c)(4) organization that focuses on lobbying Congress and state and local officials for support of pro-LGBT bills, and mobilizing grassroots action amongst its members; and the HRC Political Action Committee, which invests strategically in the campaigns of political candidates who will support pro-equality legislation.

Local activities are carried out by local steering committees, of which there are over 30 located throughout the United States.

Leadership


The Human Rights Campaign’s leadership includes President Joe Solmonese
Joe Solmonese
Joe Solmonese is president of the Human Rights Campaign of the United States and its affiliate the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. He was appointed to this position on March 9, 2005. A native of Attleboro, Massachusetts, Solmonese lives in Washington, D.C...

 and Managing Director Susanne Salkind. Their work is supported by three boards: the Board of Directors, which is the governing body for the organization; the HRC Foundation Board, which manages the foundation’s finances and establishes official policies governing the foundation; and the Board of Governors, which manages the organization’s local outreach nationwide. All three boards comprise volunteers from across the country.

Programs


The Human Rights Campaign's priorities include advancing community health and safety in the areas of hate crime
Hate crime
In crime and law, hate crimes occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, class, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, social status or...

s, HIV/AIDS
HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

 and healthcare benefits; protecting and caring for families through marriage equality
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

 and relationship recognition, and promoting fairness for LGBT foster and adoptive parents; creating a fair and equal workplace, including passage of a federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act
Employment Non-Discrimination Act
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is a proposed bill in the United States Congress that would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian, nonreligious employers with at least 15 employees.ENDA has been introduced in every...

 so that employees cannot be fired based on their sexual orientation
Sexual orientation
Sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to the opposite sex, the same sex, both, or neither, and the genders that accompany them. By the convention of organized researchers, these attractions are subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality,...

, gender identity
Gender identity
A gender identity is the way in which an individual self-identifies with a gender category, for example, as being either a man or a woman, or in some cases being neither, which can be distinct from biological sex. Basic gender identity is usually formed by age three and is extremely difficult to...

 or gender expression; combating gay bashing in schools; and building relationships with straight allies
Straight ally
Straight ally is a colloquial term that describes a heterosexual person who supports equal civil rights, gender equality, LGBTQ social movements, and challenges homophobia. A straight ally believes that LGBT people suffer discrimination and thus are socially disadvantaged...

, communities of color, religious leaders and youth.

The HRC Foundation maintains resources and publications on coming out
Coming out
Coming out is a figure of speech for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people's disclosure of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity....

, transgender issues, LGBT-related healthcare topics and information about workplace issues faced by LGBT people, notably the Corporate Equality Index
Corporate Equality Index
The Corporate Equality Index is a report published by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation as a tool to rate American businesses on their treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, consumers and investors. Its primary source of data are surveys but researchers cross-check...

. It also provides resources on LGBT parenting and religion and faith issues. An extensive archive of HRC and HRC Foundation publications is available on HRC’s website.

HRC supports its advocacy work through educational and outreach programs to members and the broader LGBT population. These programs address LGBT-related issues in areas such as aging, the "coming out" process, hate crimes, health care, immigration, youth, marriage and relationship recognition, military service, parenting, religion and faith, transgender rights, education, workplace discrimination and a program for LGBT people of color.

The HRC Foundation’s Coming Out Project provides information to people who are in the process of becoming more open about their sexual orientation or gender identity. The organization's website has coming-out guides that include "A Resource Guide to Coming Out", "Guía de Recursos Para Salir Del Clóset" (a Spanish-language version of the Resource Guide), "Living Openly in Your Place of Worship", "A Resource Guide to Coming Out for African-Americans", "Transgender Visibility: A Guide to Being You", as well as materials for straight allies of LGBT people.

HRC advocates for protections against bias-motivated violent crimes (more commonly known as hate crimes) against LGBT people and played an instrumental role in the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act
Matthew Shepard Act
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act, is an American Act of Congress, passed on October 22, 2009, and signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 28, 2009, as a rider to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010...

, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 on October 28, 2009. The new law gives the Justice Department
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Referring to the law as a “historic milestone,” HRC President Joe Solmonese noted that its passage represents “the first time that we as a nation have explicitly protected the LGBT community in the law.”

The organization's work on health issues traditionally focused on responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In recent years, HRC has addressed discrimination in health care settings for LGBT employees, patients and their families. Since 2007, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation has published the "Healthcare Equality Index", which rates hospitals on issues such as patient and employee non-discrimination policies, employee cultural competency
Cultural competence
Cultural competence refers to an ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures, particularly in the context of human resources, non-profit organizations, and government agencies whose employees work with persons from different cultural/ethnic backgrounds.Cultural competence...

 training, and hospital visitation rights for LGBT patients' families. On April 15, 2010, President Obama signed a presidential memorandum
Presidential memorandum
A presidential memorandum is a type of presidential order issued by the President of the United States to the executive branch of the United States government. Presidential memoranda do not have an established process for issuance or publication...

 directing the Department of Health and Human Services
United States Department of Health and Human Services
The United States Department of Health and Human Services is a Cabinet department of the United States government with the goal of protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services. Its motto is "Improving the health, safety, and well-being of America"...

 to develop policies that would extend hospital visitation rights to the same-sex partners of gay and lesbian people. Lobbyists from the Human Rights Campaign worked with administration officials to craft this policy change.

In addition to advocating for the rights of LGBT people abroad, such as opposing the 2010 anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda
Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill is a legislative proposal that would broaden the criminalisation of same-sex relations by dividing homosexual behavior into two categories: "aggravated homosexuality", in which an offender would receive the death penalty, or "the offense of homosexuality" in which...

, HRC also attempts to expand immigration rights for LGBT people in the United States.

HRC lobbied extensively for the repeal of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" law, which bars gay and lesbian people from serving openly in the United States military. On December 22, 2010, President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 signed a law that allows for the repeal of this policy. Eric Alva, a gay Marine who was the first American wounded in combat in Iraq and has since been a spokesman on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign's efforts to repeal the law, was invited to stand behind the President at the signing ceremony. According to the terms of the repeal law, the policy will remain in effect until the President
President
A president is a leader of an organization, company, trade union, university, or country.Etymologically, a president is one who presides, who sits in leadership...

, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is by law the highest ranking military officer in the United States Armed Forces, and is the principal military adviser to the President of the United States, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council and the Secretary of Defense...

 certify that repeal will not harm military readiness, followed by a 60-day waiting period. HRC called on the Pentagon to expeditiously carry out the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal implementation plan. President Obama followed these comments by saying that repeal of the policy should take "a matter of months... not years."

Another key priority of HRC's legislative program has been the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
Employment Non-Discrimination Act
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is a proposed bill in the United States Congress that would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian, nonreligious employers with at least 15 employees.ENDA has been introduced in every...

 (ENDA), which would ban workplace discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The organization has mobilized its members and supporters to lobby their congressional representatives in their home districts and in Washington, D.C.

In 2004 it spent $3.5 million on lobbying, its largest one-year expenditure. It typically spends over $1 million per year on for the services of lobbying firms and consultants, ranking among the biggest spenders on lobbying.

History



Steve Endean
Steve Endean
Stephen Robert Endean was an early gay rights activist, first in Minnesota, then nationally.He was born in Davenport, Iowa, and came to Minnesota to attend the University of Minnesota from 1968-1972, majoring in political science.Some of the visionary items he worked on:* 1971: founded Minnesota's...

 established the Human Rights Campaign Fund in 1980 to raise money for gay-supportive congressional candidates. Within three months, the organization was registered with the Federal Election Commission
Federal Election Commission
The Federal Election Commission is an independent regulatory agency that was founded in 1975 by the United States Congress to regulate the campaign finance legislation in the United States. It was created in a provision of the 1975 amendment to the Federal Election Campaign Act...

 as an independent political action committee
Political action committee
In the United States, a political action committee, or PAC, is the name commonly given to a private group, regardless of size, organized to elect political candidates or to advance the outcome of a political issue or legislation. Legally, what constitutes a "PAC" for purposes of regulation is a...

 (PAC). In 1983, Vic Basile, at the time one of the leading LGBT rights activists in Washington, D.C., was elected as the first executive director. In October 1986, the HRC Foundation (HRCF) was formed as a non-political, tax-exempt organization. Through research, educational efforts and outreach, the HRC Foundation continues to encourage LGBT people to live openly and to support their ability to do so.

In January 1989, Basile announced his departure, and HRC reorganized from serving mainly as a political action committee (PAC) to becoming a lobbying and political organization. HRC decided on a new Statement of Purpose:
Tim McFeeley
Tim McFeeley
Tim McFeeley is the Executive Director of the Center for Policy Alternatives , the nation's leading nonpartisan progressive public policy and leadership development center serving state legislators, state policy organizations and state grassroots leaders...

, a Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest continually-operating law school in the United States and is home to the largest academic law library in the world. The school is routinely ranked by the U.S...

 graduate, founder of the Boston Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance, and a co-chair of the New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 HRC Committee, was elected the new executive director. Total membership was then approximately 25,000 members.

In 1990, following lobbying by HRCF and other groups, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a law that was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1990. It was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H. W. Bush, and later amended with changes effective January 1, 2009....

, which, among its other provisions, protects people with HIV
HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

 and AIDS
AIDS
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

 from discrimination.

In 1992, HRC endorsed a presidential candidate for the first time — Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

 Gov. Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

. In March 1993, HRC began a new project, National Coming Out Day
National Coming Out Day
National Coming Out Day is an internationally observed civil awareness day celebrating individuals who publicly identify as bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender—coming out regarding one's sexual orientation and/or gender identity being akin to a cultural rite of passage for LGBT people...

. From January 1995 until January 2004, Elizabeth Birch
Elizabeth Birch
Elizabeth Birch is an American attorney and former corporate executive who chaired the board of directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force from 1992-1994...

 served as the executive director of the HRC. Under her leadership, the institution more than quadrupled its membership to 500,000 members and purchased an office building for its Washington, D.C. headquarters. In August 2000, Birch became the first leader of an LGBT organization to address the convention of a major political party when she spoke before the Democratic National Convention
Democratic National Convention
The Democratic National Convention is a series of presidential nominating conventions held every four years since 1832 by the United States Democratic Party. They have been administered by the Democratic National Committee since the 1852 national convention...

.

In 1995, the organization dropped the word “Fund” from its name, thus becoming the Human Rights Campaign. That same year, it underwent a complete reorganization. The HRC Foundation added new programs, such as the Workplace Project and the Family Project, while HRC itself broadly expanded its research, communications, and marketing/public relations functions. The organization also unveiled a new logo, a yellow equal sign inside of a blue square, which has become one of the most recognizable symbols of the LGBT community.

In 2002, HRC purchased its headquarters building from B'nai B'rith International
B'nai B'rith
B'nai B'rith International |Covenant]]" is the oldest continually operating Jewish service organization in the world. It was initially founded as the Independent Order of B'nai B'rith in New York City, on , 1843, by Henry Jones and 11 others....

, and, after extensive renovations, it opened in 2003.

As part of the festivities surrounding the Millennium March on Washington
Millennium March on Washington
The Millennium March on Washington was an event to raise awareness and visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and issues of LGBT rights in the US, it was held April 28 through April 30, 2000 in Washington, DC. The Millennium Pride Festival was held prior to the March, it was...

, the HRC Foundation sponsored a fundraising concert at Washington, D.C.'s RFK Stadium
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium, in Washington, D.C., United States, and the current home of MLS's D.C. United....

 on April 29, 2000. Billed as a concert to end hate crime
Hate crime
In crime and law, hate crimes occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, class, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, social status or...

s, "Equality Rocks" honored hate crime victims and their families, such as featured speakers Dennis and Judy Shepard
Judy Shepard
Judy Shepard is the mother of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old student at University of Wyoming who was murdered in October 1998...

, the parents of Matthew Shepard
Matthew Shepard
Matthew Wayne Shepard was a student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming, in October 1998...

. More than 45,000 people attended the event, which included Melissa Etheridge
Melissa Etheridge
Melissa Lou Etheridge is an American rock singer-songwriter and musician.Etheridge is known for her mixture of confessional lyrics, pop-based folk-rock, and raspy, smoky vocals...

, Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks
Troyal Garth Brooks , best known as Garth Brooks, is an American country music artist who helped make country music a worldwide phenomenon. His eponymous first album was released in 1989 and peaked at number 2 in the US country album chart while climbing to number 13 on the Billboard 200 album chart...

, Pet Shop Boys
Pet Shop Boys
Pet Shop Boys are an English electronic dance music duo, consisting of Neil Tennant, who provides main vocals, keyboards and occasional guitar, and Chris Lowe on keyboards....

, k.d. lang
K.D. Lang
Kathryn Dawn Lang, OC , known by her stage name k.d. lang, is a Canadian pop and country singer-songwriter and occasional actress...

, Nathan Lane
Nathan Lane
Nathan Lane is an American actor of stage and screen. He is best known for his roles as Mendy in The Lisbon Traviata, Albert in The Birdcage, Max Bialystock in the musical The Producers, Ernie Smuntz in MouseHunt, Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to...

, Rufus Wainwright
Rufus Wainwright
Rufus McGarrigle Wainwright is an American-Canadian singer-songwriter. He has recorded six albums of original music, EPs, and tracks on compilations and film soundtracks.-Early years:...

, Albita Rodríguez
Albita Rodríguez
Albita Rodríguez , known in her music career simply as Albita, is a Grammy-winning Cuban-American singer, producer and composer.Albita was born in Havana, Cuba...

, and Chaka Khan
Chaka Khan
Chaka Khan , frequently known as the Queen of Funk, is a 10-time Grammy Award winning American singer-songwriter who gained fame in the 1970s as the frontwoman and focal point of the funk band Rufus. While still a member of the group in 1978, Khan embarked on a successful solo career...

.

Elizabeth Birch's successor, Cheryl Jacques
Cheryl Jacques
Cheryl Ann Jacques is a United States politician who, beginning in January 2004, served for 11 months as president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, advocacy organization...

, resigned in November 2004 after only 11 months as executive director. In a statement released by HRC, Jacques said she had resigned over "a difference in management philosophy". Birch's partner, Hilary Rosen
Hilary Rosen
Hilary Beth Rosen is a partner in the political communications firm, SKDKnickerbocker with offices in DC and New York. Prior to joining SKDK, she was the managing partner of the DC office of the Brunswick Group, a London based PR and communications strategy firm. She joined Brunswick in...

, was named the interim executive director.

In March 2005, HRC announced the appointment of Joe Solmonese
Joe Solmonese
Joe Solmonese is president of the Human Rights Campaign of the United States and its affiliate the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. He was appointed to this position on March 9, 2005. A native of Attleboro, Massachusetts, Solmonese lives in Washington, D.C...

 as the president, describing him as one of the "nation's most accomplished and respected progressive leaders".

HRC launched its Religion and Faith Program in 2005 to mobilize people of faith to advocate for LGBT people. Staff members from this program helped to organize and support DC Clergy United for Marriage Equality. These faith leaders played a key role in building political support behind the ultimately successful effort to enact legislation allowing for same-sex marriage in Washington, DC. On March 10, 2010, the first legally-recognized same-sex weddings in the District of Columbia were held at the headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign.

Following HRC’s policy work and lobbying, two key provisions in the Pension Protection Act of 2006
Pension Protection Act of 2006
The Pension Protection Act of 2006 , 120 Stat. 780, was signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush on August 17, 2006.-Pension reform:...

 ensured financial protections for same-sex couples.

On August 9, 2007, six of the leading Democratic presidential candidates participated in the first-ever televised presidential forum devoted to LGBT issues. HRC and Logo TV
Logo (TV channel)
Logo is an American digital cable television channel owned by Viacom's MTV Networks division. Launched in June 2005, the channel's programs are geared towards the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community...

 co-hosted the event, "Visible Vote '08: A Presidential Forum
Visible Vote '08: A Presidential Forum
The Visible Vote ’08: A Presidential Forum aired live on August 9, 2007 on the TV channel Logo. It was the first-ever live televised forum with U.S. Presidential candidates discussing solely LGBT-related issues...

".

In 2008, HRC participated in the first congressional hearing focusing exclusively on the issue of workplace discrimination against transgender Americans. Joe Solmonese and HRC Business Council members Meghan Stabler and Diego Sanchez gave testimony.

During the 2008 election cycle, HRC engaged in the largest electoral campaign in the history of the organization. Called Year to Win, the organization spent over $7 million to mobilize LGBT and allied voters.

In 2010, the United States' ban on HIV-positive people's entry into the country for travel or immigration was lifted. HRC had lobbied on Capitol Hill for the statutory repeal and for the change to the Department of Health and Human Services’ regulations.

On January 4, 2010, Obama released a memorandum directing the secretary of Health and Human Services to develop new federal regulations to protect LGBT hospital visitation and healthcare decision-making rights. HRC worked with White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 and Department of Health and Human Services staff in support of the memorandum.

Annual National Dinners


Each year since 1997, HRC has hosted a national dinner that features high-profile speakers and serves as the organization’s single largest annual fundraiser. In 2009, President Barack Obama addressed a crowd of approximately 3,000 guests at HRC’s 13th Annual National Dinner. In his speech, President Obama reaffirmed his pledge to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act
Defense of Marriage Act
The Defense of Marriage Act is a United States federal law whereby the federal government defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. Under the law, no U.S. state may be required to recognize as a marriage a same-sex relationship considered a marriage in another state...

 (DOMA), as well as his commitment to passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Other featured speakers at past dinners have included President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 and Betty DeGeneres (1997); Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou is an American author and poet who has been called "America's most visible black female autobiographer" by scholar Joanne M. Braxton. She is best known for her series of six autobiographical volumes, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first and most highly...

 (1998); Kweisi Mfume
Kweisi Mfume
Kweisi Mfume is the former President/CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People , as well as a five-term Democratic Congressman from Maryland's 7th congressional district, serving in the 100th through 104th Congress...

 (1999); Sen. Joseph Lieberman (2000); Sen. Hillary Clinton (2001); Rep. Richard Gephardt (2002); Rep. John Lewis (2003); Rosie O’Donnell (2004); House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi is the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives and served as the 60th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011...

 and Tim Gunn
Tim Gunn
Timothy M. "Tim" Gunn is an American fashion consultant and television personality. He was on the faculty of Parsons The New School for Design from 1982 to 2007 and was chair of fashion design at the school from August 2000 to March 2007, after which he joined Liz Claiborne as its chief creative...

 (2007); and Suze Orman
Suze Orman
Susan "Suze" Lynn Orman is an American financial advisor, author, motivational speaker, and television host.Orman was born in Chicago and received her B.A. in social work. She worked as a waitress in Berkeley, California before becoming a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch...

 (2008).

HRC historical records


The historical records of the Human Rights Campaign are maintained in a collection at the Cornell University Library
Cornell University Library
The Cornell University Library is the library system of Cornell University. In 2010 it held 8 million printed volumes in open stacks, 8.5 million microfilms and microfiches, more than of manuscripts, and close to 500,000 other materials, including motion pictures, DVDs, sound recordings, and...

. Arriving at Cornell in 2004, the records include strategic planning
Strategic planning
Strategic planning is an organization's process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy. In order to determine the direction of the organization, it is necessary to understand its current position and the possible avenues...

 documents, faxes, minutes, e-mails, press releases, posters, and campaign buttons. Taking up 84 cubic feet (2.4 m³), the archive is the second largest in the library's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Human Sexuality Collection. In February 2007, the archive was opened to scholars at the library, and selected records were organized into an online exhibit called "25 Years of Political Influence: The Records of the Human Rights Campaign."

Criticism


Critics of the HRC have accused the organization of favoring the Democratic party. Andrew Sullivan
Andrew Sullivan
Andrew Michael Sullivan is an English author, editor, political commentator and blogger. He describes himself as a political conservative. He has focused on American political life....

, a conservative gay political columnist and blogger who endorsed George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 in the 2000 election campaign, has been critical of the HRC, calling it "a patronage wing of the Democratic party, designed primarily to get its members jobs in future Democratic administrations or with Democrats on the Hill". The organization responded by saying, "There’s nobody happier about what Andrew Sullivan is doing than Tony Perkins
Tony Perkins (politician)
Anthony Richard "Tony" Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian think tank and public policy foundation based in Washington, D.C...

 and James Dobson
James Dobson
James Clayton "Jim" Dobson, Jr. is an American evangelical Christian author, psychologist, and founder in 1977 of Focus on the Family , which he led until 2003. In the 1980s he was ranked as one of the most influential spokesman for conservative social positions in American public life...

", who are known for opposing LGBT rights.

HRC's endorsement of New York Republican Al D'Amato
Al D'Amato
Alfonse Marcello "Al" D'Amato is an American lawyer and former New York politician. A Republican, he served as United States Senator from New York from 1981 to 1999.-Early life and family:...

 in his 1998 campaign for re-election to the U.S. Senate brought more criticism. HRC defended the endorsement because of D’Amato's support for an end to discrimination in the workplace and the right of gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. However, many liberal LGBT people did not welcome D'Amato's many conservative stances, including his opposition to affirmative action and abortion rights.

HRC has also been accused of overstating the number of its actual members in order to appear more influential in politics. HRC responded that its membership totals include both donors and active supporters.

Transgender
Transgender
Transgender is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies to vary from culturally conventional gender roles....

 people and allies have criticized the HRC for its stance on the 2007 version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
Employment Non-Discrimination Act
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is a proposed bill in the United States Congress that would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian, nonreligious employers with at least 15 employees.ENDA has been introduced in every...

 (ENDA), which enumerated sexual orientation
Sexual orientation
Sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to the opposite sex, the same sex, both, or neither, and the genders that accompany them. By the convention of organized researchers, these attractions are subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality,...

 as a protected category but not gender identity
Gender identity
A gender identity is the way in which an individual self-identifies with a gender category, for example, as being either a man or a woman, or in some cases being neither, which can be distinct from biological sex. Basic gender identity is usually formed by age three and is extremely difficult to...

 and expression. Once the legislation was submitted by U.S. Representative Barney Frank
Barney Frank
Barney Frank is the U.S. Representative for . A member of the Democratic Party, he is the former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and is considered the most prominent gay politician in the United States.Born and raised in New Jersey, Frank graduated from Harvard College and...

, HRC officially neither opposed nor supported it. This followed a speech by HRC President Joe Solmonese at the transgender Southern Comfort Conference
Southern Comfort Conference
The Southern Comfort Conference is a major transgender conference that takes place annually in Atlanta, Georgia, since 1991. It features seminars, events, speeches by prominent people in the LGBT community, numerous vendors catering to transgender and transsexual people, and more, and is known as...

 the previous month, where he said that HRC "oppose[d] any legislation that is not absolutely inclusive." (He later claimed to have misspoken.) HRC later explained it could not actively support a non-inclusive bill, but did not oppose it because the legislation would strategically advance long-term efforts to pass a trans-inclusive ENDA. However, in letters to U.S. Representatives, HRC did in fact express support for the bill. HRC's support for the bill was objected to by many in the LGBT community., and many objected to the symbolic value of excluding transgender people from the bill's protections. HRC's position was considered a betrayal of the transgender community by many, including HRC's first and only openly trans board member, Donna Rose, who resigned in protest. It also separated HRC from other high-profile advocacy groups for LGBT people (e.g., PFLAG
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays is a socio-political group of family members and friends of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Its mission statement describes the goals of PFLAG as promoting health and well being of LGBT persons as well as actively supporting...

, Equality Federation, National Stonewall Democrats), who worked together under the banner of United ENDA to protest the bill.

LGBT activists were stunned when HRC leaders announced that it would be softening demands for equal rights and consider making political bargains, such as supporting President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

's plan to privatize Social Security
Social Security (United States)
In the United States, Social Security refers to the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program.The original Social Security Act and the current version of the Act, as amended encompass several social welfare and social insurance programs...

 partly in exchange for the right of same-sex partners to receive benefits under the program.

In 2007, HRC and Logo
Logo (TV channel)
Logo is an American digital cable television channel owned by Viacom's MTV Networks division. Launched in June 2005, the channel's programs are geared towards the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community...

 sponsored the first presidential forum in history to discuss LGBT-related issues. Critics wondered why Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel
Mike Gravel
Maurice Robert "Mike" Gravel is a former Democratic United States Senator from Alaska, who served two terms from 1969 to 1981, and a former candidate in the 2008 presidential election....

 had been excluded from the debate. Senator Gravel was later invited to the forum, where he and Dennis Kucinich
Dennis Kucinich
Dennis John Kucinich is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1997. He was furthermore a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections....

 were the only candidates to express unequivocal support for same-sex marriage.

HRC's undue involvement in the Catholic Gay Community has been criticized by the Rainbow Sash Movement according to GLTNEWSNOW. Furthermore, the radical queer collective Against Equality
Against Equality
Founded in 2009, Against Equality is an online archive of writings and arts that critique mainstream gay and lesbian politics. A.E. currently focuses on issues regarding the institution of marriage, the U.S...

 is critical of the HRC's mainstream politics.

Public health researchers have been critical of HRC for giving a perfect score on the 2009 Corporate Equality Index to Reynolds American
Reynolds American
Reynolds American, Inc. is the second-largest tobacco company in the United States. Its holdings include R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, American Snuff Company , Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company and Niconovum AB...

, parent company of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco. Some of these researchers maintain that the large health disparities
Health disparities
Health equity refers to the study of differences in the quality of health and health care across different populations....

 in tobacco use caused by targeted marketing, including the company's marketing plan from the 1990s called Project SCUM
Project SCUM
Project SCUM was a plan proposed by R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company to sell cigarettes to members of the "alternative lifestyle" areas of San Francisco, in particular the large number of gay people in the Castro and homeless people in the Tenderloin...

 (for "Subculture Urban Marketing"), undermine equality.

Leaders

  1. Steve Endean
    Steve Endean
    Stephen Robert Endean was an early gay rights activist, first in Minnesota, then nationally.He was born in Davenport, Iowa, and came to Minnesota to attend the University of Minnesota from 1968-1972, majoring in political science.Some of the visionary items he worked on:* 1971: founded Minnesota's...

    , HRC founder (1980–1983)
  2. Executive Director Vic Basile (1983–1989)
  3. Executive Director Tim McFeeley
    Tim McFeeley
    Tim McFeeley is the Executive Director of the Center for Policy Alternatives , the nation's leading nonpartisan progressive public policy and leadership development center serving state legislators, state policy organizations and state grassroots leaders...

     (1989–1995)
  4. Executive Director Elizabeth Birch
    Elizabeth Birch
    Elizabeth Birch is an American attorney and former corporate executive who chaired the board of directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force from 1992-1994...

     (1995–2004)
  5. President Cheryl Jacques
    Cheryl Jacques
    Cheryl Ann Jacques is a United States politician who, beginning in January 2004, served for 11 months as president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, advocacy organization...

     (2004)
  6. President Joe Solmonese
    Joe Solmonese
    Joe Solmonese is president of the Human Rights Campaign of the United States and its affiliate the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. He was appointed to this position on March 9, 2005. A native of Attleboro, Massachusetts, Solmonese lives in Washington, D.C...

     (2005–present)

Musical merchandising


In 2002, the Human Rights Campaign, in collaboration with Centaur Entertainment, released an awareness album named Being Out Rocks
Being Out Rocks
Being Out Rocks is a compilation album released October 11, 2002 by the Human Rights Campaign, in collaboration with Centaur Entertainment. Its release coincided with National Coming Out Day; "Being Out Rocks" was also that year's theme....

. It was released on 11 October 2002 to celebrate National Coming Out Day
National Coming Out Day
National Coming Out Day is an internationally observed civil awareness day celebrating individuals who publicly identify as bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender—coming out regarding one's sexual orientation and/or gender identity being akin to a cultural rite of passage for LGBT people...

 that year. It features a cross-section of LGBT
LGBT
LGBT is an initialism that collectively refers to "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender" people. In use since the 1990s, the term "LGBT" is an adaptation of the initialism "LGB", which itself started replacing the phrase "gay community" beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s, which many within the...

 and LGBT-supportive straight artists. Its release was accompanied with signing events at the Times Square
Times Square
Times Square is a major commercial intersection in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets...

 Virgin Megastore in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and at the HRC Action Center in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....



In February 2005 HRC released a second CD compilation with Centaur, a 2-disc set called Love Rocks
Love Rocks
Love Rocks is a two-disc compilation album released February 8, 2005, by the Human Rights Campaign in collaboration with Centaur Entertainment...

.

See also


  • Gay community
    Gay community
    The gay community, or LGBT community, is a loosely defined grouping of LGBT and LGBT-supportive people, organizations and subcultures, united by a common culture and civil rights movements. These communities generally celebrate pride, diversity, individuality, and sexuality...

  • LGBT rights in the United States
  • List of LGBT rights organizations

External links