The “Un-called” For Telemarketer (Part III)–The Human Rights Campaign Wants My Gay Money

The phone rang around lunchtime today. A very polite man asked for me by name, and in that first utterance, I knew it was someone wanting money in some form or another. Because he actually seemed like he had “a little snap” (most telemarketers that call here probably would have a hard time at McDonald’s), I let him proceed longer than I usually do before hanging up the receiver.

hrc-logoThis time it was the Human Rights Campaign wanting me to re-up my membership; actually, re-upping isn’t quite what I would have been doing, if, indeed, I had responded positively to the call. I joined HRC for one year in 2004, if I remember correctly, and since then they call me and send me requests for money in the mail several times a year. They’ve probably spent more in trying to get more money out of me than the initial amount I gave them in the first place.

Human Rights Campaign is actually a euphemism. In reality, it’s a Washington, D.C.-based gay lobby. (They must feel it would make people uncomfortable if it were called the Gay Rights Campaign.) When I first joined, I was hoping that there was actually some kind of national gay rights organization that worked at the national, state, and local levels, some kind of group that I might be able to take part in. But HRC is not that kind of organization. They do have a sort of local connection in large cities like Houston, but these are, as far as I can tell, made up of some “upper-crusty” gays, who put on a Black Tie Dinner every year, another way of getting big bucks to funnel into the Washington lobbying group. This means HRC is just like any other lobby that tries to get congresspeople interested in its cause by putting dollars into their coffers.

When Bush was President, HRC’s message was that they needed money to counter the Conservative Right. It doesn’t seem to me that much was gained or lost as far as gay rights go during the Bush administration–with or without HRC. Now in their most recent mailout asking for money (yes, a phone call and an HRC letter all within a week), they say they want money because with a more gay-friendly President in office, HRC can do even more. It’s very difficult to see that whatever HRC does will have much influence.

If HRC and the money donors sends it were so effective, more should have been accomplished by now. And where’s the oversight? Where are all the donations that gay people make going?

One thing is for sure: a heck of a lot of it is going to Executive Director Joe Solomonese’s pocket. According to a recent article in the Washington Blade, in 2008 Solomonese received $338,400. For that, a lot more should be happening that just a few CNN and MSNBC mini-debates with conservatives.

A more effective national gay political organization would be one in which people can participate at all levels, and not one that just wants money, and more money. HRC could take the initiative and become that organization, but at the moment, all that it seems to want to be is a money funneler.

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