Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is
the largest lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) lobbying group and political action committee in the
States, claiming over 725,000 members and supporters,
though this membership count is disputed.
The HRC mission
statement is "HRC envisions an America where gay, lesbian, bisexual
and transgender people are ensured equality and embraced as full
members of the American family at home, at work and in every
The Human Rights Campaign is a visible entity in U.S. politics
. It lobbies Congress
for support of LGBT-positive
bills, works to build an LGBT-friendly Congress by funding those
politicians that support the LGBT
, mobilizes grassroots
action amongst its members, and encourages members to exercise
their right to vote
in every election. The
organization overwhelmingly supports Democratic candidates running
for office, although HRC supports some moderate Republicans.
Through its website, the HRC also helps members identify their
and local lawmakers
, review scorecards of how legislators
rate on LGBT issues, and draft correspondence to lawmakers.
Additionally, the website helps members research state and local
laws on issues that are central to LGBT causes.
Additionally, HRC maintains resources on coming out
and information about workplace issues
faced by LGBT people, notably the Corporate Equality Index
. It also
provides resources on LGBT parenting and religion and faith
History and leadership
The Human Rights Campaign Fund was established in 1980 by Steve Endean
to raise money for gay-supportive
congressional candidates. Within three months, the HRC was
registered with the Federal
as an independent political action
committee. In 1983, Vic Basile, one of the leading LGBT rights
activists in Washington, D.C. at the time, was elected as the first
executive director. In October 1986, the HRC Foundation was formed.
As with many gay organizations in the 1980s, HRC was devastated by
the onslaught of AIDS
and its membership spent
much of the decade struggling to hold their ground.
In January 1989, Basile announced his departure, and the HRC
reorganized from serving mainly as a political action committee
(PAC) to becoming a lobbying and political organization. HRC's new
Statement of Purpose became,
Tim McFeeley, a graduate of Harvard Law
School, and founder of the Boston Lesbian and Gay
Political Alliance and a co-chair of the New England HRC Committee, was elected the new executive
Total membership was then approximately 25,000
the HRC endorsed a presidential candidate for the first time —
In March 1993,
National Coming Out Day
became a project of the HRC. From January 1995 until January 2004,
served as the
executive director of the HRC. Under her leadership, the
institution more than quadrupled its membership to 500,000 members
and purchased an office building for its Washington, D.C.
The headquarters building was purchased from B'nai B'rith International
in 2002 for $9.8
million. A large national capital campaign raised over $28 million
for the project. After extensive renovations of the mid-century
modern structure, the building is currently valued at over $18
The Human Rights Campaign often has a
large presence at LGBT-related events such as the Chicago Pride
Parade as seen above.
As part of the festivities surrounding the Millennium March on
, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation sponsored a
fundraising concert, "Equality Rocks," on 29 April, 2000.
45,000 people attended at Washington DC's RFK
Stadium to watch Melissa
Etheridge, Garth Brooks, Pet Shop Boys, k.d.
lang, Nathan Lane, Rufus Wainwright, Albita Rodríguez, and Chaka Khan.
Billed as a concert to end
, the event featured the
parents of Matthew Shepard
, and also
honored families of hate crime victims.
In August 2000, Birch became the first leader of a LGBT
organization to address the convention of a major political party
when she spoke before the Democratic National
Birch's successor, Cheryl Jacques
resigned in November 2004 after only 11 months as executive
director. In a statement released by the organization, Jacques
resigned over "a difference in management philosophy".
Incidentally, Birch's partner, Hilary
, former chief executive of the Recording Industry
Association of America
, was named as interim replacement.
In March 2005, HRC announced the appointment of Joe Solmonese
as the president, describing him
as one of the "nation's most accomplished and respected progressive
The Human Rights Campaign also consists of a Board of Directors and
a Board of Governors. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, a
non-profit entity, also maintains a separate Board. In December
2004, they named Michael S.
as their Board chair.
On 5 May 2007, the House of
passed the Matthew Shepard Act
, which would expand
the 1969 federal hate-crime law
include crimes motivated by a victim's gender
, gender identity
, as well as remove the
existing prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a
federally-protected activity. The HRC has lobbied extensively for
this expansion. The legislation passed the United States Senate
on 20 September
2007. The amendment was attached to the Defense Reauthorization
Bill and President Bush
would likely veto the bill if it reached his desk with the
amendment attached. Ultimately, the House and Senate were not able
to reconcile their individual versions of the amendment, and it was
dropped from the final draft of the Defense Reauthorization
In 2009, HRC criticized statements by Pope Benedict XVI
that condom use was not helpful in
AIDS prevention and might even be counterproductive.
HRC historical records
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 which constitute the
second largest collection of records in the Library's Division of
Rare and Manuscript Collections, Human Sexuality Collection area
with of records. In February 2007, the records were 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."
Critics of the HRC have accused the organization of favoring the
Democratic party platform over gay and lesbian equality in regards
to gay marriage and ending the don't ask, don't tell
policy. The HRC
states they are fighting for equality in all areas of gay, lesbian,
bisexual and transgender rights.
Andrew Sullivan, a prominent conservative
gay political columnist and blogger, has been critical of the HRC
calling them "a patronage wing of the Democratic party, designed
primarily to get its members jobs in future Democratic
administrations or with Democrats on the Hill".
organization responded by saying, "There’s nobody happier about
what Andrew Sullivan is doing than Tony Perkins
and James Dobson
" who are known for opposing
. As of October 2008, HRC
campaign donations for the 2008 election have totaled $739,042.
That amount includes $705,036, or 95% of the total, to
HRC has been accused of overstating the number of actual members in
order to appear more influential in politics. HRC refuses to
release the count of current, dues-paying members.
1998 New York Senate election
angered many of its supporters in New York, and many of
its African American, Asian American, and female supporters
nationwide by endorsing Republican Senator Al
D'Amato in the 1998 election.
D'Amato earned the
nomination by supporting an end to discrimination in the workplace
and voting to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the
military, but his stances against abortion
and affirmative action
, as well
as the racist jokes he told at the expense of Judge Lance Ito
, left many LGBT people angry over the
nomination. D'Amato went on to be defeated by Chuck Schumer
HRC has been criticized by transgender
activists for not opposing, though not supporting, the 2007 version
of the Employment
that enumerated sexual orientation as a
category of protection but not gender
was the apparent reversal of a policy articulated in 2004 to always
include transgender provisions in such a bill, adapted to political
realities that the bill would only pass without transgender
protections. Activists within and without the HRC pressured it to
more aggressively oppose the sexual orientation antidiscrimination
legislation, and it died in the Senate after passing the
Support of Bush's social security plan
HRC was criticized by LGBT activists when the group's leaders
announced that the organization would be softening its demands for
equal rights and consider making political bargains, such as
supporting President George W.
's plan to privatize Social Security
exchange for the right of same-sex partners to receive benefits
under the program.
In 2007, HRC and Logo
the first presidential forum in history to discuss LGBT-related
issues. The event was criticized for excluding Democratic
presidential candidate Mike Gravel
the debate. Gravel said, "According to a HRC spokesperson, I didn't
raise enough money and therefore my candidacy did not meet their
standard of 'viability.' But that's strange — CNN
and the NAACP
invited me to their debates without evaluating my financial
viability. Ironically I think the real reason why HRC didn't invite
me is that I'm too vocal in my advocacy of gay rights. None of the
top tier candidates would have been comfortable facing an opponent
who consistently points out their refusal to embrace true equality
for gays and lesbians. HRC simply bowed to the star factor. It's
just a shame that this travesty was perpetrated in the name of the
LGBT community." Senator Gravel was later invited to the forum,
where he and Dennis Kucinich
the only candidates to express support for same-sex marriage.
Tobacco companies and the Corporate Equality Index
HRC has been criticized by public health researchers for giving a
perfect score on the 2009 Corporate Equality Index to Reynolds American
, parent company of
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco
. Researchers maintain
that the scoring rubric subtracts 15 points for corporate action
contributing to LGBT inequality and large health disparities
in tobacco use (and
) caused by targeted marketing (including the
marketing plan Project SCUM
Project Sub-Culture Urban Market) undermine equality.
Harry Knox and the Obama administration
Social conservative groups have asked President Obama to fire
former HRC Religion and Faith Program Director Harry Knox
from the advisory council of the
House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
arguing that Knox is "a virulent anti-Catholic bigot".
- Steve Endean, HRC founder
- Executive Director Vic Basile (1983–1989)
- Executive Director Tim McFeeley
- Executive Director Elizabeth
- President Cheryl Jacques
- President Joe Solmonese
In 2002, the Human Rights Campaign, in collaboration with Centaur
Entertainment, released an awareness album named Being Out Rocks
. It was released on 11
October 2002 to celebrate National Coming Out Day
It features a cross-section of LGBT
LGBT-supportive straight artists. Its release was accompanied with signing
events at the Times Square Virgin Megastore in New York City and at the HRC Action Center in Washington,
In February 2005 HRC released a second CD compilation with Centaur,
a 2-disc set called Love
- HRC | What We Do
- HRC 'members' include all who ever donated $1 -
- HRC Responds | The Daily Dish | By Andrew
- Donor Profiles
- US Senate passes gay hate crimes law- from Pink News- all
the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News
- "House nixes hate crimes" Retrieved on
- HRC RESPONDS TO POPE BENEDICT’S REMARKS THAT CONDOMS
INCREASE HIV INFECTIONS
- Lowery, George. (30 January 2007) 25 years of gay-rights struggles traced in online
exhibit The Cornell Chronicle of
Cornell University. Accessed 29 July
- Cornell University Library.
25 Years of Political Influence:The Records of the Human
Rights Campaign Cornell University. Accessed 29 July
- Independent Gay Forum - Rudy's Run
- The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan
- Independent Gay Forum - Whose Agenda?
- Sullivan, Andrew. (19 February 2007) The Human Rights Campaign (Blech)
The Atlantic Monthly. Accessed 29
- HRC hits back at blogger criticisms - Washington
- Citizen Crain: Cooking the books at HRC
- The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan
- HRC 'members' include all who ever donated $1 -
- Kaiser, Charles. (18 July 2000) The D'Amato Factor - Article Brief at
findarticles.com The Advocate. Accessed 29 July 2007.
- Schindler, Paul. (4 October 2007) HRC Alone in Eschewing No-Compromise Stand Gay
City News. Accessed 8 October 2007.
- Sandeen, Autumn. (6 November 2007)  Trans Advocate Blog. Accessed November 9
- Sen. Mike Gravel: Why I Wasn't Invited to the
Debate on Gay Issues - Politics on The Huffington Post
- Corporate Equality Index: Current Rating Criteria
2.0 (2006 - 2010). Accessed on 2009-03-29
- Tobacco use among sexual minorities in the USA, 1987 to
May 2007: a systematic review. Tobacco Control Online
First 11 February 2009.
- Obama Asked To Fire Gay Faith Council