Thursday, August 12, 2010

See, now this is why the HRC sometimes pisses me off.

I like the HRC, I really do.  They're the public face of LGBT rights, the ones out there getting the word out, shining a light on anti-equality issues, and putting the pressure on politicians and corporations.  In a world where there are so many anti-equality organizations out there, I view the HRC as the Great Equalizer.

Not only that, but it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when I see an HRC sticker on someone else's car.  Just saw one today, in fact.  (Although in an amusing side note, since I have both an HRC sticker and an Information Society sticker on my car, my daughter used to get the two of them mixed up and think that people with HRC stickers were promoting InSoc.  But I digress.)

But there's a few things they do that I just don't feel are on the up-and-up.  Let's start with the name: The Human Rights Campaign.  When I first heard about it and saw their symbol I thought they were like Amnesty International, and were taking up the gay rights banner because it fell in step with their philosophy.  Because they're not called Gay Rights Campaign, they're called HUMAN Rights Campaign.  And yes, I 100% agree that gay rights are human rights.  But the HRC is only interested in gay rights.  I don't recall hearing a peep out of them about the Jena 6 trials, and Guantanamo got a brief write-up condemning it that didn't even take up a full column in their newsletter magazine, Equality.  But since they call themselves the Human Rights Campaign, they send across this image that they're something bigger than they really are.  It's easy to disregard a group called the Gay Rights Campaign, because they're obviously a biased, specialized group whose morals you may not agree with.  But Human Rights?  You can't just disregard that, that would be immoral.  If you ignore something from someone calling themselves "Human Rights Campaign," then you're just like Saddam Hussein, right?

For the record, I have the same problem with the Mr. Universe competition.  Never once has there been a contestant from anywhere other than Earth.  It's a deceptive, and therefore inaccurate name.

Now, I don't mind that the HRC focuses exclusively on gay rights; I just wish they'd come right out and say it.  But using a BS name like "Human Rights Campaign," they're being misleading and just as manipulative as "Focus on the Family" (because gay families are still families) or "National Organization for Marriage"  (because they're only for straight marriage and against gay marriages).

Here's the most recent thing they did that pissed me off.

Tell Target and Best Buy: You need to make this right. 
Add your name!

One candidate for Governor of Minnesota has promised to veto marriage equality legislation and has ties to a Christian rock band that advocates death to gays.

Target and Best Buy, both based in Minneapolis, have donated $250,000 to a political committee supporting his campaign.

But they still have a chance to make it right. We've drafted an open letter calling on the companies to donate an equal amount to support fair-minded candidates. We'll publish it in a full-page ad in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Will you help us ratchet up the pressure by adding your name?

Tell Target and Best Buy to make it right. Add your name now.

By signing on, you'll help make it clear that Target and Best Buy are risking the business of millions of pro-equality customers – and show the rest of corporate America, which is watching this situation very closely, that support for hateful and intolerant candidates won't go unnoticed.

But don't stop there. Print out our letter, take it to the manager of your local Target and Best Buy, and let them know how disappointed you are.

Here's the backstory: Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Target had donated $150,000 to the political committee MN Forward. Best Buy pitched in another $100,000.

MN Forward's mission? Elect as governor an anti-LGBT state representative with a long history of attacks on LGBT Americans. This representative's campaign even donated to a controversial "punk-rock Christian ministry" whose leader has advocated executing gays and lesbians!

After all these two companies have done to build a fair and equitable workplace, it's a slap in the face. In years past, Target and Best Buy consistently received 100 percent ratings on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's Corporate Equality Index.

They need to make this right – by donating an equal amount to support candidates who will fight for equality. But they won't do it just because we ask. They need to see that hundreds of thousands of customers across the country are upset and disappointed.

Add your name now.

I hope Target and Best Buy will do the right thing. But it's up to us to show that fair-minded consumers are paying close attention to what they do next.

Let's make this happen,

Joe Solmonese

Okay, now here's what pisses me off about this.

(1) They never mention the name of the candidate, the "punk rock Christian ministry," or its leader.  Why?  Fear of libel?  If they're positive enough to get us riled up over this, shouldn't the facts be on their side and support their argument?  And by not giving me any of these names, I can't look into this on my own.

They did give the name of the organization, MN Forward.  So I Googled that, which led me to articles in The Chicago Tribune and The Minnesota Independent, which were not afraid to name names.  The candidate is Tom Emmer, the punk rock Christian ministry is called You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, Inc, and the guy making the hateful comments that is being linked to Emmer is Bradlee Dean.  (And boy, are they some doozies.  Click on the Minnesota Independant link to read them if you're so inclined.)

Now the information as HRC reports it is accurate. But holding back on so much of the specifics really irks me.  If you're going to take a stand, then put it all on the table, and treat me with enough decency that I can fact-check you.

(2) HRC says "They need to make this right – by donating an equal amount to support candidates who will fight for equality."  Now, bear in mind Target and Best Buy did not make donations to Tom Emmer directly, they donated to MN Forward.  The Chicago Tribune reports "the Human Rights Campaign ... is demanding that the giant retailer make an equivalent or greater donation to groups supporting equal rights candidates."  Now I would hope it would be a Minnesotan group that supports a pro-equality candidate, but it could just as easily be the HRC themselves.  Now bear in mind, I am not saying that this is a ploy by the HRC to get money from Target and Best Buy.  I'm saying they're so afraid of appearing like it could be a ploy to get money that they don't have the cajones to come straight out and say that they asked Target and Best Buy to donate to organizations and not specific candidates.  The organizations would of course be supporting the candidates, so saying "donating an equal amount to support candidates who will fight for equality" is not a flat-out lie, but it is a half-truth, and once again it's one I feel was completely unnecessary.

I think the bottom line is that politics is an ugly game, and the HRC has learned how to play it well.  Unfortunately those who play the game also treat the voters like we're children, and play games with us to get what they want.  And more often than not this leads to worse things.

So to the HRC, I say this:

I support your cause, it's very near and dear to me, and I acknowledge that you are the biggest organization out there with the leverage to get the job done.  But trust me to be able to think for myself.  Don't stoop to the manipulative tactics and half-truths of politics when talking to us, your supporters.  Because if we, the LGBT community, can't trust the biggest name that's fighting for us, then where are we supposed to turn?

Now for the record, I do support what HRC is doing in this situation, I am going to sign the petition, and I do donate $10 to the HRC every month.  I do think that what they are doing is important.  It's just that sometimes, they really piss me off in the way they do it.

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