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Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese appeared on satellite
radio host Michelangelo Signorile's show on Wednesday to address
accusations that he's elitist and fails to represent all LGBT people.
Signorile took Solmonese to task for his laudatory attitude toward President Barack Obama, who gave a long-awaited speech to attendees of the HRC annual fund-raiser on the eve of the National March for Equality in Washington, D.C. While Obama did repeat that he is in favor of repealing the military's ban on openly gay service members, "nothing new" was said, Signorile pointed out.
"Obama reiterated that he's working with military leadership and Congress, that he's working to overturn 'don't ask, don't tell,'" Solmonese said. "No matter what bill goes we want to make law, it still has to go through the same process."
He added that he had worked alongside members of Congress like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who insisted that in order for hate-crimes legislation to pass by October, it had to be attached to the Department of Defense spending bill. Other pieces of legislation, which must be passed legislatively, would have to use the same strategy to pass, he said.
Solmonese was also asked about a letter sent to HRC members earlier
this week, saying that people cannot assess Obama's track record on gay
rights until his administration is over in 2012, or possibly 2017.
"What I was trying to say is that 2017 is a jarring number, it's so far down the road, but in the context of our movement, its a narrow window...maybe it'll be 2012," he said.
A video posted on October 10 features gay conservative columnist Andrew Sullivan calling for Solmonese to resign from HRC.
"I am incensed, infuriated, and I think Solmonese should resign as soon as possible," said Sullivan in the video (below). "I'm not tolerating this. None of us should tolerate this anymore." Since then Sullivan has apologized for his harsh statements.
Others have charged that HRC functions like the $250 per plate fundraising dinners isolated less financially endowed LGBT activists from becoming involved, therefore creating a rift between elite members of the organization and those in grassroots efforts. Solmonese, however, said that even though some may feel a split, the people on the ground are "the core of the good things happening in the movement."