HRC’s Joe Solmonese responds to critics
Human Rights Campaign head Joe Solmonese has been the focus of a wave of criticism from some prominent members of the LGBT community for seeming to be too patient with President Barack Obama’s lack of action in such major equal rights issues as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act.
The criticism reached fever pitch this weekend when Solmonese sent an e-mail blast prior to Saturday’s HRC dinner where Obama spoke. Here is the part that got people really ticked off because it seems to be giving the Obama administration a pass to drag their feet:
Here is video of Andrew Sullivan expressing his grievances with HRC and calling on Solmonese to resign:
Towleroad has a good post from some other prominent voices critical of Solmonese and an interview he gave to CNN on Sunday. Here is a LINK.
Today, the beleaguered HRC head responded to critics with a lengthy message on the HRC site. Here are some excerpts:
Between President Obama’s speech at the HRC National Dinner on Saturday night and the inspiring crowd of pro-equality marchers who gathered at the Capitol on Sunday, it was quite a weekend. In my mind, it all reflected the undeniable fact that we in the LGBT community and our allies have a new-found energy and focus on what needs to be done to achieve the equality we’ve been promised and that we deserve. Of course, we are not a community that sees everything through the same lens (and thank goodness for that!), so there have been nearly as many different views of what really went down this weekend as there were people marching past the White House. With this in mind, I want to address some of the issues people have been discussing and talk about how I see us all moving forward.
Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was the reaction some people had to my comment that on the last day of President Obama’s term, we will be able to look back on many accomplishments in LGBT rights. I still find it hard to believe that anyone thought I was saying that we should be content to wait patiently for our equality. What I said—and what I believe in my heart—is just the opposite.
We all worked hard to elect a President who supports our rights and now that we’re in a position to make change happen, the last thing we should do is wait. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and DOMA are still on the books and an inclusive ENDA has yet to become law. Real families are left without protections and people living with HIV and AIDS aren’t getting the care they need. Students are being bullied in school because they’re different and bi-national couples are treated like they’ve never met. While we’ve started to turn the tide, it’s clear that our community has a lot of reasons to be angry and impatient, and I’m thankful to the tens of thousands who joined us in Washington this weekend to demand a change.
So while I steadfastly believe that we will have accomplished an awful lot by the time President Obama leaves office, I know that wishing won’t make it so.
The fact is, we’ve got an agenda. It includes repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, passing an inclusive ENDA, repealing DOMA, and getting real protections for families and people with HIV/AIDS. How do we make all this happen? We have to pass laws. When it comes to changing the lives of LGBT Americans, that’s the name of the game. Whatever the president does or doesn’t say, whatever I say and however anyone decides to read it, there is only one way to pass a law: secure a majority of votes in the House and a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate. This is a lot easier said than done, but one thing is certain: when an LGBT bill gets to the Oval Office, this president will sign it.