Thursday, August 13, 2009

Will the real Joe Solmonese please stand up?

HRC Launches "No Excuses" Campaign, Now Backs October March on Washington

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president, Joe Solmonese has done an about face this week on his slow and steady approach to full equality for LGBT-Americans.

After months of telling us to be patient and to trust Barack Obama to live up to his pre-election promise to be a "fierce advocate" for LGBT rights, this week Solmonese announced HRC's "No Excuses" campaign, putting congress - not the president - in the cross hairs.

Despite the president's repeated statements that he supports domestic partnerships and not full marriage for same-sex couples, Solmonese claims to know better, saying Obama doesn't really feel that way.

In this week's US News and World Report interview, Joe says that even though the administration has repeatedly stated that it is in no rush to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", (DADT), he predicts that the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. military will be done away with by next Spring.

What's next for this guy, setting up a "Guess Your Weight" booth at the next Bear Run?

After enduring months of criticism from gay bloggers and activists that HRC has not taken a more active role in fighting of full equality, preferring instead to not make waves and jeopardize it's BFF status at the White House, HRC's head honcho seems to be feeling the heat.

In a press release yesterday, Solmonese came out in full support of the "National Equality March" scheduled for October 11, on the National Mall in Washington, DC, saying, “With thousands of LGBT people and allies coming to Washington to make a difference, it’s our mission to help them become the citizen lobbyists that they want and need to be.”

Having worked for several large corporations in my life I'm feeling an overwhelming sense of deja vu about this. When the workload is light and the workers are fearful for their jobs and start to grumble that the guys in charge aren't doing enough to fight for their own survival, the big wigs give them "busy work" to keep them focused on something else. We've been going through this for the past several months on my current job with a do-nothing project called "Clean and Bright". It's corporate speak for the old restaurant axiom, "if you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean."

In my opinion, Solmonese has adopted this strategy to shift the attention off himself. By signing on to the march, which he was dubious about from the beginning, he can shift the focus off of himself and onto the efforts of others, while coming off as the good guy by giving it his seal of approval, but actually doing nothing.

HRC launched its "No Excuses" campaign on Monday, urging the LGBT community to become "grass-roots lobbyists" and schedule face-to-face meetings with their lawmakers to find out where they stand on LGBT issues and then let HRC know how it went.

I'm all in favor of grass-roots political activism, but as the term implies, these are bottom/up efforts, not top/down.

Events like "Meet in the Middle", the "The Great Nationwide Kiss-In", (scheduled for this Saturday), th upcoming "Equality Across America" march and even the Stonewall Riots came about at the grass roots level by ordinary people who were pissed off at the status quo and sick and tired of having our rights violated.

The LGBT rights movement is different from all of the other civil rights movements because we have no Martin Luther King, Susan B. Anthony or Gandhi to lead us. In the absence of leadership, it is up to us to fight for ourselves.

Kiss your partner in a public place at 2pm this Saturday. Go to Washington on October 11th. Call or write your elected officials and demand that they support marriage equality. Do it for yourselves and for future generations, not because two-faced blow-hards like Joe Solmonese say so, but because if we don't do it, nobody will.

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