Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Comment of the Week: Tim K on Joe Solmonese's Resignation

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | September 04, 2011 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: HRC, Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solmonese, Tim K

Comment of the WeekOn Bil's post, HRC's Solmonese Resigns: Staffers Angry at News Timing,, which discusses the timing of the news that Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, is not renewing his contract in March, Tim K suggests that the controversy about the organization and its president presents a choice of reasons why:

"You sort of have your choice here. Either HRC (and Solmonese) is as useless as many of the comments here imply, or HRC (and Solmonese) has one of the worst PR staffs of any advocacy organization of its size in the world. Ultimately, I'd argue, if you're politically effective but lousy at managing the public's perception of your work, then you're either not as effective as you think, or not going to be effective very long. Whichever the case, it's probably time for a change in leadership."

While, as Bil notes, Solmonese's tenure has been marked by many high points in LGBT rights, there have also been low lows, particularly the organization's declaration that it would never supportive employment laws not inclusive of trans people and subsequent support for non-inclusive laws. It also seemed as if HRC was pretty much ready to throw in the towel on DADT until Lt. Dan Choi and GetEqual chained protesters to the White House fence on two occasions, and many of the other victories we have seen on marriage, DADT and state protections came from other smaller, leaner, more aggressive but well-financed organizations.

What say you, Projectors? Is the problem here perception, or reality? Did Solmonese, as head of the nation's largest LGBT advocacy organization, with its $35,000,000 budget, flub the PR job and not get proper credit for the organization within the LGBT community, or did he, in fact, generate more heat than light with the organization during his tenure?

Jillian Weiss is a member of the Board of Directors of GetEqual.


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Perception IS reality, to the one who perceives it.

MonicaHelms gets it exactly right.

Tim's comment is worthy of being named Comment of the Week, but I'd like to nominate Chitown Kev as First Runner-Up for his insightful comment [=here=] in the same thread.

Maybe Solmonese's problem is that he just doesn't care what the LGBT activist sewer rats (like me and maybe you) think about him! Maybe he wants to play to (1) wealthy, white gay men and women so that they will make big donations to HRC, and (2) str8 (mostly) legislators who write bills and vote them into law.

Now, if he were successful enough with (2) then I I doubt we would care about (1) -- but he and HRC are not perceived as that successful or effective, especially based on the size of HRC's operating budget, and thus all us sewer rats are chewing his glutes alive.

I'm thinking the problem with Solmonese and the HRC is that they no longer are the innovators they once were, they no longer are the edge of the sword. Instead they are a bloated, lethargic mass that rides on the backs of others and attempts to take credit for the achievements of others.

"...seemed as if HRC was pretty much ready to throw in the towel on DADT until Lt. Dan Choi and GetEqual chained protesters to the White House fence on two occasions, and many of the other victories we have seen on marriage, DADT and state protections came from other smaller, leaner, more aggressive but well-financed organizations." That was closer to the truth than you may think, Jillian. The biggest complaint I've had with HRC over the past 10 years is its failure to put a human face on the injustices against the LGBT community.

Lt. Choi, whether you agree with his politics or not, and the local Equality groups have been (mostly) successful with that. Something the HRC either never learned, or never became proficient at is in making the heterosexual understand that injustice against one is a denial of justice for all.

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. - Benjamin Franklin

Maybe now we, and the HRC, can find someone to head that organization who understands that and can make it happen.

Except that Solmonese being an arrogant, backstabbing elitist isn't just perception.

It's interesting to see that certain HRC and Joe supporters jumped down my throat on the original article for expressing similar sentiments that others expressed here, but I see no attacks on them. Just pointing it out.

It has been since 2007 that HRC & Joe S. have angered a lot of T-People! Way to long! What exactly has HRC done? Spend a lot of money and party? Dan Choi, Autumn Sandeen, and the people that chained themselves to the Whitehouse fence actually accomplished something! If HRC wants to change their perception then a T-person should be at the Helm! I have thrown my feathered hat in the ring but there are many Qualified T-People that could fix HRC! Monica Helms, Autumn Sandeen, Dr. Jillian T. Weiss and many more! HRC could be an action organization instead of an inaction organization! Anyone want to take odds on a T-person not being put in charge?

Define "action" for me, Regina.

I steadfastly believe that HRC's insider game is absolutely critical to the LGBT community attaining "equality" (of course, how "equality" is to be properly defined is wide ranging across the LGBT spectrum and in various sub-communities).