Imagine if one day you went to vote in your state or local primary election and you were told “Oh, I’m sorry, but you didn’t donate enough money to the Party this year to have the right to vote in our primary election. We’re really sorry about that, but hey, don’t worry…we’ll be sure to let you know how it comes out.”
Sound ridiculous? Maybe, but that’s pretty much exactly how the leadership of the Human Rights Campaign operates. If you want a vote in the political agenda of HRC, you need to pony up fifty grand or more to the organization’s operating budget in order to have one.
Consider what the reaction might be if the scenario above actually happened in real life. You’d be hearing words like “undemocratic”, “unfair”, and “un-American”. There would protests and violence in the streets, lawsuits, commentary and coverage in the media. Average, working-class American voters would be demanding blood.
And guess what? That’s exactly what’s now happening on a somewhat smaller scale within in the LGBT community in regard to how the way HRC operates is seen by the greater American LGBT community. It’s hardly surprising when you consider that this kind of politics is exactly what the American people have risen up and fought against throughout our history, over and over again. The history of activism and civil rights progress in the United States tells this same story repeatedly, and so it’s really not so surprising that it’s retelling itself yet again today.
It’s important to remember that when our country was founded, as much we as may honor those fabled words we all know and remember, all men were not actually created equal in the eyes of our government. Only wealthy property owners were allowed to vote. Black men were considered slaves, the property of their white owners, and women were considered the property of their husbands. Neither group were allowed a voice in the government or politics of this country. When this country was founded, and for the better part of a century afterward, it was only rich, white, property-owning men who had any voice in the governing of our country and the way it was run.
Over the course of our history, we learned that treating our fellow citizens that way was wrong and that it wasn’t in keeping with what the Founding Fathers had really intended, even though the original federal laws written at the time reflected the realities and beliefs of those times. The men who created our Constitution and initial set of laws understood that it could not possibly last forever in its original form, that it had to be a foundation which could be built upon, expanded, and amended to keep up with the changing realities of a future they could not possibly imagine at the time, and so they made sure that the ability to do so was an integral part of the foundation of our laws and our government.
The Human Rights Campaign operates in much the same way, treating the vast majority of the American LGBT community in much the same way as our original government treated the vast majority of the American people. Only the very wealthiest and most influential get a say in how it’s run, but the rest of us are expected to just fall in line and obey the rules and guidelines they set out. Neither our participation nor our opinions are welcomed or wanted, but at the same time, we are still being asked to pay for and promote it.
What we’ve been seeing here with the HRC and it’s “advocacy” over the last few months isn’t a bunch of radical extremists taking on the establishment as some would like to cast it. It’s yet another group of persecuted and devalued American citizens standing up to tyranny and demanding a voice in how our country and our movement is run. It’s the very best of American history repeating itself yet again, the true story of what it really means to be an American retelling itself for a modern audience.
Any student of American history knows how it worked out last time, the time before that, and the time before that. It’ll work out the same way this time, too. The real question here is whether HRC will eventually find the courage to place themselves firmly on the side of justice, or will continue to eagerly and enthusiastically ally themselves with our harshest oppressors. It’s the question of whether HRC’s leadership will finally become willing to share the power of our movement’s government with the people, or, like King George II, will eventually find itself with no power at all as the people find their own voice, turn their backs on authoritarianism and the voices of the status quo, and go our own way toward a better future which includes everyone.
The Human Rights Campaign is wrong, it’s always been wrong, and most importantly of all, it’s downright un-American. It’s time for the winds of change to once again blow this kind of authoritarian politics back into the dustbin of history, where it belongs.