Human Rights Campaign

From Academic Kids

HRC logo
HRC logo

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is one of the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equal rights organization in the United States. The HRC "envisions an America where LGBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community." [1] (


Actions of the HRC

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 community, mobilizes grassroots action amongst its members, and encourages members to employ their right to vote in every election. Through its website, the HRC also assists members in identifying state and local lawmakers, researching state and local laws regarding issues central to the LGBT cause, reviewing scorecards of how lawmakers rate on LGBT issues, and drafting and sending letters to lawmakers.

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 time, the HRC was registered with the Federal Election Commission as an independent political action committee. In 1983, Vic Basile, one of the leading LGBT rights activists in Washington, DC 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's membership was devasted by the onslaught of AIDS and they 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 PAC to becoming a lobbying and political organization. The purpose statement of the HRC became, "For the promotion of the social welfare of the gay and lesbian community by drafting, supporting and influencing legislation and policy at the federal, state and local level." Tim McFeeley, a graduate of Harvard Law, 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 director. Total membership was then approximately 25,000 members.

In 1992, the HRC endorsed a presidential candidate for the first time — Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. In March 1993, National Coming Out Day became a project of the HRC. From January 1995 until January 2004, Elizabeth Birch 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, DC headquarters.

This 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 renovation of the building. After over $10 million in renovations, the building is currently valued at over $18 million.

In August 2000, Birch became the first leader of an LGBT organization to address the convention of a major political party when she spoke before the Democratic National Convention. Her 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 Rosen, former chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America, was named as interim replacement.

On March 9, 2005, the HRC announced the appointment of Joe Solmonese as the president, describing him as one of the "nation's most accomplished and respected progressive leaders".

The Human Rights Campaign also consists of a Board of Directors and a Board of Governors. The HRCF (Human Rights Campaign Foundation), a non-profit entity, also maintains a separate Board. In December 2004, they named Michael Berman as their Board chair.


  1. Steve Endean, HRC founder (19801983)
  2. Executive Director Vic Basile (1983–1989)
  3. Executive Director Tim McFeeley (1989–1995)
  4. Executive Director Elizabeth Birch (1995–2004)
  5. President Cheryl Jacques (2004)
  6. President Joe Solmonese (2005–present)


Officially, the HRC represents the transgender community. However, it has previously been the target of protests once due to its refusal to demand the inclusion of the transgendered in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) bill. These objections changed in 2004 when the organization announced support for an ENDA bill that was inclusive of gender identity, however sparking charges of "trans-jacking" from the far right.

Sometimes referred to as "Headed by Rich Caucasians" or the "Human Rights Champagne Fund", the HRC has often been the target of critics who claim that the HRC and HRCF do not produce any significant policy advocacy, and only serve the interests of a select minority of wealthy, white gay men. In the same vein, it is heavily criticized for its national, top-down structure instead of a local, grassroots focus.

The HRC is also widely known for being too cozy with the Democratic Party establishment. During the 2004 elections, for instance, the bulk of the organizations time and funding was focused on the unsuccessful effort to elect John Kerry ("George W. Bush, You're Fired!" became the group's heavily merchandized signature line). This meant resources were not spent to defeat state ballot initiatives that sought to ban same-sex marriage — all 11 of which passed overwhelmingly on November 2, 2004. Given that Kerry was a supporter of such state ballot initiatives [2] (, many questioned why he had received a "free ride" from HRC, and why more effort wasn't made to defeat the marriage initiatives and educate Americans not to fear same-sex marriage.

Being Out Rocks

In 2002, the Human Rights Campaign, in collaboration with Centaur Entertainment, released an awareness album named Being Out Rocks. It was released on October 11, 2002 to celebrate National Coming Out Day that year. It features a cross-section of LGBT and gay-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, D.C.

The contents of the album are:

  1. Sarah McLachlanAngel (5:32)
  2. k.d. langSummerfling (3:49)
  3. Cyndi LauperShine (3:46)
  4. Rufus WainwrightCalifornia (3:20)
  5. Ani DiFrancoIn or Out (3:06)
  6. Janis IanSociety's Child (3:39)
  7. Sam HarrisFirst Time Ever I Saw Your Face (4:22)
  8. SONiAMe, Too (4:52)
  9. SuedeRemember Who You Are (3:24)
  10. Catie CurtisKiss That Counted (3:24)
  11. The B-52'sTopaz (4:22)
  12. Bob MouldSoundonsound (4:08)
  13. QueenIs This the World We Created? (2:36)
  14. Cris WilliamsonDriving Wheel (3:22)
  15. Dar WilliamsAre You Out There? (3:04)
  16. Matt ZarleySay Goodbye (4:13)
  17. The (2:22)
  18. Jade Esteban EstradaBelia Morena (4:37)
  19. Taylor DayneHow Many (4:09)
  20. Kevin AvianceAlive (3:49)
  21. Harvey FiersteinI Am What I Am (2:20)

Love Rocks

On February 8, 2005, the Human Rights Campaign released its second CD compilation with Centaur, a 2-disc set called Love Rocks.

Track listing

Disc 1

  1. Christina Aguilera – "Beautiful" (4:01)
  2. Pink – "Love Song" (2:30)
  3. Simply Red – "You Make Me Feel Brand New" (5:05)
  4. Dixie Chicks – "I Believe in Love" (4:13)
  5. Nada Surf – "Inside of Love" (5:01)
  6. Dido – "Thank You" (3:40)
  7. Jen Foster – "SHE" (4:08)
  8. The Bootlickers – "Love Comes Back" (3:27)
  9. L.P. – "Wasted" (4:12)
  10. Sophie B. Hawkins – "Walking On Thin Ice" (4:04)
  11. Keaton Simons – "Currently" (3:08)
  12. Rachael Yamagata – "Be Be Your Love" (4:12)
  13. Matt Alber – "Walk With Me" (4:21)
  14. Kinnie Starr – "Alright" (4:13)
  15. Eric Himan – "No Urgency" (5:13)
  16. Carole King – "An Uncommon Love" (3:31)

Disc 2

  1. Mandy Moore – "I Feel The Earth Move" (3:07)
  2. Melissa Etheridge – "Giant" (5:15)
  3. The B-52's – "Summer of Love" (4:33)
  4. Cyndi Lauper – "Time After Time" (3:59)
  5. Kimberley Locke – "8th World Wonder" (3:32)
  6. Yoko Ono – "Every Man Has A Man ..." (5:04)
  7. BT – "Simply Being Loved" (4:22)
  8. Dave Koz – "Just To Be Next To You" (4:44)
  9. Dolly Parton – "Sugar Hill" (2:50)
  10. Emmylou Harris – "Jupiter's Rising" (3:02)
  11. Garrin Benfield – "Light The Way" (3:43)
  12. Ari Gold – "Home" (4:32)
  13. Jason & deMarco – "All I Long For" (3:41)
  14. Randi Driscoll – "Amazing Grace/What Matters" (6:18)
  15. Billy Porter – "Only One Road" (4:43)
  16. Oleta Adams – "Window of Hope" (4:18)

National corporate sponsors

As of April 1, 2005, the following companies are the current national corporate sponsors of HRC (source) (

See also

External links


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