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10/10/2009

Solmonese's email: Not gonna lie, it annoyed me no more than the boner pill ad that followed it

by Jeremy Hooper

Here at the National Equality March weekend (and online), there's lots of chatter about an email blast that HRC prez Joe Solmonese sent out on the eve of his group's big, Obama-laden dinner. Why, you ask? Well, mainly because of the following section, in which Joe envisions himself as an eight-years-older human rights campaigner with a warm sense of nostalgia for our "fierce advocate"-in-chief:

Screen Shot 2009-10-10 At 1.55.41 PmI've written that we have actually covered a good deal of ground so far. But I'm not going to trot out those advances right now because I have something more relevant to say: It's not January 19, 2017.

That matters for two reasons: first, the accomplishments that we've seen thus far are not the Obama Administration's record. They are the Administration's record so far....

I am sure of this: on January 19, 2017, I will look back on the President's address to my community as an affirmation of his pledge to be our ally. I will remember it as the day when we all stood together and committed to finish what Senator Kennedy called our unfinished business. And I am sure of this: on January 19, 2017, I will also look back on many other victories that President Barack Obama made possible.

*FULL EMAIL: HRC MOVES GOAL POST FOR OBAMA AND LGBT RIGHTS TO JANUARY 2017? [Towle]

It's a little weird, yes. But ya know, while I couldn't be more understanding of why this forward-looking phrasing might come across as misguided in an era when so many in the LGBT community have pinpointed and planted themselves firmly at the end of their "HOPE" rope, to this particular writer, the wording of this e-blast is really not the mega-deal that it's being made out to be. I really don't think that Joe is saying "wait until 2017," like many are implying. I just think he's saying that come 2017, we will be happy. Now, that may mean we get hate crimes and ENDA this year, DADT repeal next year, and all of our sought-after goals in term one. It may also mean that we don't get everything until the end of term two. But I really don't think Joe is saying that 2017 is the new deadline, and that President Obama can wait until the last month of his second term to act, if he so chooses. Instead I think he's saying that when we do eventually look back at a presidency that has gestated longer than a pregnancy, be it in 2017 or 2050, we will remember President Barack Obama as an influential game changer on LGBT rights. And regardless of what you, I, or the crazy man on K Street who keeps yelling at me about the purple men from Mars thinks about the Human Rights Campaign, the idea that the pro-gays of the future will be pro-Obama is not an offensive message, in and of itself.

Now, is Joe right to be so optimistic? Well, that's a separate question. And in my humble opinion, this was not the best type of message for the head of the biggest, most oft-criticized LGBT rights group to send at this, a time when most LGBT activists want to see more of a crystal clear plan than a crystal ball. But I do think it's a little disingenuous for any of us to pile on to HRC simply on the basis of the wording of this one email message. Especially when we can criticize HRC for that ivory tower that they call an office. ;-)

**Solmonese has posted a response to HRC's BackStory.

space gay-comment gay-G-A-Y-post gay-email gay-writer-jeremy-hooper


Your thoughts

There are elections in 2010, 2012 and 2014. Do I think it's likely we'll have made a lot of progress by 2017? Yes. I have lots of hope. But as political strategy, that's not a card you show. Joe just gave away support for Democrats before they even have a chance to pander to us in 2010, 2012 and 2014. We have to make Democrats and Obama work for our support in elections. Even if it's just a game, it's a game we have to play or Democrats AND the LGBT community will get complacent

Posted by: GrrrlRomeo | Oct 10, 2009 2:11:10 PM

I agree with you JH. I think that Joe was trying to sound an optimistic tone of gradual, one-battle-at-a-time victories over the course of the entire Obama administration. One of the political realities, though is that even popular administrations many times (if not most times) see a net loss of House and even Senate seats in their first mid-term election. I don't know what will happen in 2010, but if past elections are any gauge, then it is somewhat likely that we will not have nearly as much support for the remaining 6 years of Obama's administration. And, they can barely broach the subject of LGBT rights now.

I also wrote a comment at Queerty where I suggested that neither our "allies" or "enemies" want us to really diminish as a wedge issue. If all of our issues are suddenly resolved, then how does Obama keep our 6.5 million votes? Similarly, if the hatemongers succeed at gathering us all up and dropping us down a deep hole somewhere, then they will have to find another politically expedient group to hate. Both our supporters, and detractors benefit from the status quo, so realistically, we should probably not expect much more than a slower, hopefully steady amelioration of our circumstances.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Oct 10, 2009 2:40:47 PM

Why did he pick "2017" as his "let's judge him then" date?
That is at the end of a SECOND speculated term.

I can understand putting healthcare on the front burner. Afghanistan is a big concern.
But Solomonese noting "2017" is rather glaring especially when a LOT of these are issues that we not only have overwhelming majority support across the U.S., but we also have majority support amongst Republican voters.
ENDA? Gay Hate Crimes legislation? Even gays in the military.
Polls have shown that a majority of Republican voters support us.

The only issue that polls are against gays is the issue of gay marriage. And even then, the opposition keeps losing their numbers as time goes by ...

So I have serious concern over the fact that Solomonese made a point of saying "2017", as opposed to 2013...

Posted by: foundit66 | Oct 10, 2009 8:23:53 PM

Solmonese is useless. He should be fired.

Posted by: libhomo | Oct 11, 2009 2:19:22 PM

Joe used 2017 because he knows as well as you and I that Obama is a politician, and that he therefore he won't do jack shit until his second term because our issues are such a political hot potato.

It's tough, but we all know it's true.

Posted by: PINGAS | Oct 12, 2009 8:48:14 AM

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