Human Rights Campaign
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (November 2015)|
|Motto||"Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equal Rights"|
|Type||Nonprofit advocacy organization|
|Affiliations||Human Rights Campaign Foundation, Human Rights Campaign PAC|
HRC is an umbrella group of two separate non-profit organizations and a political action committee: 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 promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights through 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, a super PAC which supports and opposes political candidates.
The Human Rights Campaign's leadership includes President Chad Griffin. HRC's 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.
In the fall of 2014, HRC commissioned outside consultants to conduct a series of focus groups and surveys with the organization's staff. In the report, which was obtained by BuzzFeed, staff of the organization described the working environment at HRC as “judgmental,” “exclusionary,” “sexist,” and “homogenous." The report stated that “Leadership culture is experienced as homogenous — gay, white, male." Acknowledging the report, HRC president Chad Griffin said: "Like many organizations and companies throughout our country, HRC has embarked on a thoughtful and comprehensive diversity and inclusion effort with the goals of better representing the communities we serve."
Steve Endean, who had worked with a previously established Gay Rights National Lobby from 1978, established the Human Rights Campaign Fund political action committee in 1980. The two groups eventually merged. 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-profit organization.
In January 1989, Basile announced his departure, and HRC reorganized from serving mainly as a political action committee (PAC) to broadening its function to encompass lobbying, research, education, and media outreach. HRC decided on a new Statement of Purpose: "For the promotion of the social welfare of the gay and lesbian community by drafting, supporting and influencing legislation and policy at the federal, state and local level." Tim McFeeley, a Harvard Law School graduate, founder of the Boston Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance, and a co-chair of the New England HRC Committee, was elected the new executive director. Total membership was then approximately 25,000 members.
In 1992, HRC endorsed a presidential candidate for the first time, Bill Clinton. In March 1993, HRC began a new project, National Coming Out Day. From January 1995 until January 2004, Elizabeth Birch served as the executive director of the HRC. Under her leadership, the institution more than quadrupled its membership to 500,000 members.
In 1995, the organization dropped the word "Fund" from its name, 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.
As part of the activities surrounding the Millennium March on Washington, the HRC Foundation sponsored a fundraising concert at Washington, D.C.'s RFK Stadium on April 29, 2000. Billed as a concert to end hate crimes, "Equality Rocks" honored hate crime victims and their families, such as featured speakers Dennis and Judy Shepard, the parents of Matthew Shepard. The event included included Melissa Etheridge, Garth Brooks, Pet Shop Boys, k.d. lang, Nathan Lane, Rufus Wainwright, Albita Rodríguez, and Chaka Khan.
HRC launched its Religion and Faith Program in 2005 to mobilize clergy to advocate for LGBT people, and helped form DC Clergy United for Marriage Equality, which was involved in the legalization of same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia. 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.
In September 2011, it was announced that Joe Solmonese would step down as president of HRC following the end of his contract in 2012. Despite initial speculation that former Atlanta City Council president Cathy Woolard would be appointed, no replacement was announced until March 2, 2012, when American Foundation for Equal Rights co-founder Chad Griffin was announced as Solmonese's successor. Griffin took office on June 11, 2012.
In 2012, HRC said that it had raised and contributed $20 million to re-elect President Obama and to advance same-sex marriage. In addition to the Obama re-election campaign, HRC spent money on marriage-related ballot measures in Washington, Maine, Maryland and Minnesota, and the election of Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin.
In 2013, HRC conducted a postcard campaign in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
Each year since 1997, HRC has hosted a national dinner that serves as the organization's single largest annual fundraiser. In 2009, President Barack Obama spoke 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 (DOMA), as well as his commitment to passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. He gave the keynote speech in 2011 as well, reiterating his pledge to fight for DOMA repeal and for the passage of ENDA, and to combat bullying of LGBT youth. Other featured speakers at past dinners have included Bill Clinton, Maya Angelou, Kweisi Mfume, Joseph Lieberman, Hillary Clinton, Richard Gephardt, John Lewis, Rosie O'Donnell, Nancy Pelosi, Tim Gunn, Suze Orman, Sally Field, Cory Booker, Tammy Baldwin, and Betty DeGeneres.
HRC historical records
The historical records of the Human Rights Campaign are maintained in a collection at the Cornell University Library. Arriving at Cornell in 2004, the records include strategic planning 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".
According to the organization, the Human Rights Campaign "is organized for the charitable and educational purposes of promoting public education and welfare for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community."
The HRC Foundation provides resources on coming out, transgender issues, LGBT-related healthcare topics, and information about workplace issues faced by LGBT people, including the Corporate Equality Index. In August 2015, Pride at Work, an LGBT affiliate of the AFL–CIO, approved a resolution that calls on member organizations to stop funding HRC until the group addresses what Pride at Work sees as problems with HRC’s Corporate Equality Index.
HRC has lobbied for the passage of anti-discrimination and hate crime laws. The organization supported the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded federal hate-crime law to allow the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
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 training, and hospital visitation rights for LGBT patients' families.
Lobbyists from the Human Rights Campaign worked with the Obama administration to extend hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners. HRC lobbied extensively for the repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) law, which barred gay and lesbian people from serving openly in the United States military.
The official logo of the HRC, adopted in 1995, consists of a yellow equals sign imposed onto a blue background. The logo was created in 1995 by design firm Stone Yamashita. The previous logo used by the HRC (then known as the HRCF) featured a stylized flaming torch. HRC uses the term Equality Flag for flags bearing their logo.
Same-sex marriage logo
HRC shared a red version of its logo – selected by marketing director Anastasia Khoo because the color is synonymous with love – on social network services on March 25, 2013, and asked its supporters to do the same to show support for same-sex marriage in light of two cases that were before the U.S. Supreme Court (United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry). The logo went viral, and Facebook saw a 120% increase in the number of profile photo changes on March 26. Celebrities such as George Takei, Beyonce, Sophia Bush, Padma Lakshmi, Martha Stewart, Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and Ellen DeGeneres shared the logo with their millions of followers on social network services and politicians like Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), and Kay Hagan (D-NC) did the same.
Brands and corporations showed their support for same-sex marriage with creative recreations of the red HRC logo. Supporters included Bud Light, Bonobos, Fab.com, Kenneth Cole, L'Occitane en Provence, Maybelline, Absolut, Marc Jacobs International, Smirnoff, Martha Stewart Weddings, and HBO's True Blood.
Critics of the HRC have accused the organization of favoring the Democratic Party. Andrew Sullivan, a gay political columnist and blogger, has been critical of the HRC, calling it "a patronage wing of the Democratic party".
HRC was criticized for its endorsement of New York Republican Al D'Amato in his 1998 campaign for re-election to the U.S. Senate. HRC defended the endorsement because of D'Amato's support for Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". However, many liberal LGBT leaders did not welcome D'Amato's conservative stances, including his opposition to affirmative action and abortion.
HRC has been accused of overstating the number of its actual members in order to appear more influential in politics. Former HRC President Joe Solmonese responded, saying that "[m]embership is about more than contributions ... [i]t's about sending e-mails to elected officials, volunteering time or lobbying members of Congress" and more than half of its members made contributions during the previous two years. Earlier, HRC spokesperson Steven Fisher stated that its membership includes anyone who has donated at least $1.
Some transgender people have criticized the HRC for its stance on the 2007 version of ENDA, which enumerated sexual orientation as a protected category but not gender identity and expression. Once the legislation was submitted by Rep. Barney Frank, HRC officially neither opposed nor supported it. This followed a speech by former HRC President Joe Solmonese at the transgender Southern Comfort Conference the previous month, where he said that HRC "oppose[d] any legislation that is not absolutely inclusive". HRC later explained that 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 a letter to U.S. Representatives, HRC did express support for the bill, stating that while HRC is "greatly disappointed that the current version of ENDA is not fully-inclusive ... we appreciate the steadfast efforts of our ... allies ... even when they are forced ... to make progress that is measured by inches rather than yards."
In 2014, long-time supporter of same-sex marriage Shenna Bellows was nominated for a U.S. Senate seat in Maine. HRC endorsed her opponent, incumbent Republican Senator Susan Collins, who had previously lacked a history of supporting marriage equality initiatives. However, Collins later clarified her view in support of LGBT marriage equality.
The Human Rights Campaign gives out a number of awards.
- Visibility Award winners
- Ally for Equality Award winners
- Teri Polo (2015)
- Sara Ramirez (2015, Arizona)
- Jennifer Lopez (2014, National),
- Whoopi Goldberg (2013, National)
- Sally Field (2012, National), Jennifer Beals (2012, Chicago)
- Michael Bloomberg (2011, National)
- P!nk (2010)
- Equality Award
- HRC Legacy Award
- Terry Bean (2008, National)
- HRC Award for Workplace Equality Innovation
- Boston Consulting Group and Goldman Sachs (2011, National)
- Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and Credit Suisse (2010)
- Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Boeing (2009, National)
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- Bailey, Mark (2000). "Human Rights Campaign." Gay Histories and Cultures. New York: Garland.
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- "More Artists Added to Equality Rocks: Michael Feinstein, Chaka Khan, Kathy Najimy and Rufus Wainwright Join Garth Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Melissa Etheridge, Anne Heche, Kristen Johnston, kd lang, Nathan Lane and Pet Shop Boys To Benefit the Human Rights Campaign Foundation". nyrock.com World Beat. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
- "Resources: Hate Crimes Timeline". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
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- Stewart, Nikita (December 18, 2009). "Fenty to sign same-sex marriage bill at church in NW D.C". The Washington Post.
- Marimow, Ann E.; Alexander, Keith L. (March 10, 2010). "First gay marriages in District performed". The Washington Post.
- ABC News. "Dems Court the Gay Vote". ABC News.
- "After 22 Years, HIV Travel and Immigration Ban Lifted". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
- "HRC: After 22 years, HIV travel and immigration ban lifted - Steve Rothaus' Gay South Florida". typepad.com.
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- Eilperin, Juliet (October 25, 2013). "Cindy McCain petitions husband to back gay rights bill". The Washington Post. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
- "Obama HRC Speech: "I Will End Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Says President Obama". The Huffington Post. October 10, 2009.
- "About the Dinner: Previous Dinners". hrcnationaldinner.org. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
- Lowery, George. (January 30, 2007) 25 years of gay-rights struggles traced in online exhibit The Cornell Chronicle of Cornell University. Retrieved July 29, 2007.
- Cornell University Library. 25 Years of Political Influence:The Records of the Human Rights Campaign Cornell University. Retrieved July 29, 2007.
- "Mission Statement". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- Nichols, James Michael (October 11, 2013). "Coming Out Of The Closet: Some Resources To Aid The Process". Huffington Post. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- "Transgender Resources". NBC News. April 27, 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- Harrington, Elizabeth (June 19, 2012). "Sebelius, Human Rights Campaign Praise Each Other for Promoting LGBT Equality in Healthcare". CNS News. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- Mitchell, Elizabeth (June 1, 2015). "2015 Corporate Equality Index Shows Highest-Ever Inclusion of LGBT Employees". PR Newser. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- Brydum, Sunnivie (August 30, 2015). "Pride at Work Tells HRC: ‘Enough Is Enough’". The Advocate. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- Phelps, Timothy (June 26, 2015). "Gay-rights advocates now turn focus to employment, housing". Seattle Times. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
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- Petty, Janie (November 21, 2014). "Tallahassee memorial highlighted in Healthcare Equality Index 2014". The Tallahassee Democrat. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- Shear, Michael D. (April 16, 2010). "Obama extends hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners of gays". The Washington Post.
- Branigin, William; Wilgoren, Debbi; Bacon Jr, Perry (December 22, 2010). "Obama signs DADT repeal before big, emotional crowd". The Washington Post.
- "About Our Logo". Human Rights Campaign.
- "Old HRCF logo on lapel". Cornell University.
- HRC Store page selling Equality Flag
- Thielman, Sam (March 28, 2013). "DOMA Nation: The Human Rights Campaign had no idea this was going to happen". Adweek. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
- Alison Starling. "Working Women: Anastasia Khoo builds viral content for Human Rights Campaign". wjla.com.
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- Maresca, Cara. "Seeing red: Symbol for marriage equality goes viral". MSNBC. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
- Yang, Mackenzie (March 26, 2013). "What Is the Red Equal Sign All Over Facebook and Twitter?". Time. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
- Fox, Zoe. "Facebook Turns Red as SCOTUS Marriage Equality Hearings Begin". Retrieved April 18, 2013.
- Neal, Mann. "Gay-Marriage Symbol Goes Viral". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
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- "HRC's ENDA dilemma: Dine, party or boycott?". EDGE Publications, Inc. July 22, 2008. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- Sandeen, Autumn. "ENDA Passed Without "Real Or Perceived Gender" Protections". pamhouseblend.com. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
- "Letter to U.S. Representatives"
- "Susan Collins Endorsed By Major Gay Rights Group, Despite Not Backing Marriage Equality". The Huffington Post. June 25, 2014.
- Whoopi Goldberg To Receive Human Rights Campaign's Ally For Equality Award http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/whoopi-goldberg-hrc-ally-for-equality-lgbt-rights_n_2479146.html Retrieved November 26, 2014.
- Human Rights Campaign's official website
- The Records of the Human Rights Campaign at the Cornell Library