Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

April 8, 2012


 * Largest LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered) lobbying organization in the U.S.
* Closely aligned with Hillary Clinton


Founded in 1980, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is the largest — with more than 750,000 members — lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) lobbying group in the United States. Through its three interrelated branches — the HRC Foundation, the HRC lobbying arm, and the HRC Political Action Committee — this organization supports political candidates and legislation that will advance the LGBT agenda. Historically, HRC has most vigorously championed HIV/AIDS-related legislation, “hate crime” laws, the abrogation of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and the legalization of gay marriage.

Originally known as the Human Rights Campaign Fund, HRC in its earliest days focused on contributing money to LGBT-friendly candidates. The organization shortened its title in 1995 when it became an active lobbying agent.

HRC’s first presidential endorsement came in 1992, when it backed Bill Clinton’s successful campaign. In 1998, the organization lobbied heavily in support of federal hate-crimes legislation, particularly in light of the then-recent murders of Matthew Shepard (who was killed because he was gay) and James Byrd, Jr. (who was killed because he was black). Thanks in large measure to HRC’s lobbying efforts, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was eventually passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2009.

In 2004, when the Federal Marriage Amendment (a.k.a. the Marriage Protection Amendment) was drafted to define “marriage” solely as a union between one man and one woman, HRC was instrumental in persuading Congress to vote against it.

Though nominally a nonpartisan organization, HRC has many close ties to the Democratic Party, particularly to Bill and Hillary Clinton. Elizabeth Birch (HRC’s former executive director), John Isa, Adrian Matanza, Jill Stauffer, David A.C. Turley, and Tony Wagner were among the key HRC figures who worked on Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Meanwhile, other HRC personnel maintain close ties to all manner of leftwing political figures and activist groups:
*Ty Cobb previously served as counsel to Senator Ted Kennedy.
*Allison Herwitt was a former lobbyist with the National Abortion Rights Action League, now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America.
* Darrin Hurwitz served as in-house legal counsel for America Coming Together.
* Terry McGuire worked with the New Mexico League of Conservation Voters on behalf of John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.
* Susanne Salkind was a regional field manager for NARAL Pro-Choice America.
* Christine Sloane has held positions with Greenpeace USA and NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina.
* David M. Smith was communications director for Senator Ted Kennedy.
* Joe Solomonese (HRC president) is the former CEO of EMILY’s List. He began his career working as an aide to Democratic governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, and also assisted with Barney Frank’s 1990 congressional campaign.
* David A.C. Turley worked for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, after Hillary Clinton had dropped out of the race.
* Cuc Vu worked for AFL-CIO and the SEIU alongside Eliseo Medina. She is also a founding board member of the Mi Familia Vota Education Fund and has served on the board of the National Immigration Forum.

HRC has received financial support from George Soros’s Open Society Institute ($200,000 in 2008), the Tides Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.


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