Chad Griffin is leaving as president of the Human Rights Campaign.
Griffin will leave HRC in 2019 after a seven-year tenure, the organization announced today. He will remain in his position while the search goes on for a new leader.
“Under Griffin’s leadership, HRC has become a leader in the resistance to the Trump-Pence administration, and one of the most politically powerful organizations in the country,” the group said in a press release. “HRC has doubled its membership, staff and budget to meet its expanded goals and opportunities. During Griffin’s tenure, HRC has led efforts to win marriage equality, introduce the Equality Act which would establish explicit federal civil rights protections for LGBTQ people, launched the largest grassroots expansion in the organization’s 38-year history ahead of the 2018 midterms, and established new programs to expand protections across the Deep South and around the globe.”
“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this incredible organization at such an important moment in the history of our movement -- and our nation,” Griffin said in the release. “The true strength of the Human Rights Campaign is in its fearless army of staff and volunteers, who are committed to ensuring full equality reaches every LGBTQ person across America, and around the world. For decades, this organization has shown the world that love conquers hate. But this year, in this election, with the future of our democracy on the ballot and the equality of future generations on the line, we proved that votes conquer hate too.
“Every single person across this country deserves an equal opportunity to succeed in life, without having to overcome roadblocks put in place by politicians advancing a discriminatory agenda. Even as I step down from my role in this remarkable organization, I remain committed to HRC’s mission and will continue to fight for the rights and dignity of LGBTQ people -- and all Americans -- as I embark on this next chapter. So now is the time to fight harder and dig deeper. Because there are still more trails to be blazed. There is still more history to be made and more battles to be won. The LGBTQ community’s brightest days and our grandest victories are still ahead of us.”
During Griffin’s tenure, the HRC, once seen as exclusionary to transgender people, strongly embraced trans causes and hired many trans staffers, including national press secretary Sarah McBride.
Griffin also oversaw the launch of the HRC Rising campaign, which expanded the group’s grassroots efforts in response to the 2016 presidential election. In the 2018 midterms, HRC endorsed more than 480 pro-equality candidates nationwide, and deployed 150 staff to organize and mobilize voters in more than 70 congressional, Senate, and local races across 23 states.
Other new efforts included Project One America, working for equality in the Deep South, and HRC Global, working around the world. HRC also became a major player in the fight for marriage equality, cochairing the Respect for Marriage Coalition and filing a friend-of-the-court brief in the Obergefell case, which resulted in a Supreme Court ruling for nationwide marriage equality in 2015.
Before joining HRC, Griffin cofounded the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which led the ultimately successful federal court challenge to California’s Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment that temporarily revoked marriage equality in California. Griffin also ran, with business partner Kristina Schake, the political and public affairs firm Griffin|Schake, which worked on a variety of campaigns: for renewable energy, against tobacco, and for marriage equality, among others.
A native of Hope, Ark., Griffin got his start in politics as a volunteer for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992. When Clinton because president, Griffin worked in the White House press office, becoming, at 19, the youngest West Wing staffer ever. He is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
Griffin has not revealed his plans, but there is speculation he will join a political campaign, possibly for one of the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls, the Washington Blade reports. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California is one who has been mentioned. She declined comment to the Associated Press but did send a laudatory tweet about Griffin.
I've been friends with @ChadHGriffin for over a decade & throughout that time his commitment to civil rights & equality has never wavered. From marriage equality & beyond, history will show that Chad was a leader in the moment he was needed to lead. Can’t wait to see what's next. pic.twitter.com/TqgDSwv7rl
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 15, 2018
There was praise for Griffin from many other activists and politicians.
Nan Aron, president, Alliance for Justice: "Alliance for Justice is honored to have worked in partnership with Chad Griffin, a tireless champion for the rights and dignity of all people. Chad has been at the forefront of the fight for LGBTQ rights at one of the most challenging and rewarding periods in the movement's history. Under his leadership, Human Rights Campaign has also been a vital partner in the fight against President Trump's anti-LGBTQ judicial nominees, and their work has helped defeat nominees who posed some of the greatest threats to LGBTQ rights. Chad's commitment and courage have made millions of people's lives better and a great organization stronger than ever, and we are all deeply grateful. "
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi: “Under Chad Griffin’s visionary leadership, the Human Rights Campaign has become a force for positive change and progress for all Americans, regardless of who you are or whom you love. From securing marriage equality to building support for the Equality Act, Chad and the HRC were invaluable allies in the fight against hatred and discrimination. We are grateful for Chad’s tireless commitment to equality, dignity and respect, and for the generations of activists and leaders he has inspired.”
Sen. Tammy Baldwin: “During Chad Griffin’s tenure at HRC our nation has seen tremendous progress and he has been a remarkable leader in our ongoing fight for full equality. I am grateful for our partnership and his work protecting and expanding the rights of LGBTQ Americans.”
Sen.-elect Kyrsten Sinema: “Chad Griffin’s tenure at the Human Rights Campaign helped usher in unprecedented progress, including marriage equality and the right for all loving Arizona families to foster and adopt. I sincerely thank Chad for his years of tireless, visionary leadership at HRC.”
It has been an honor working alongside @ChadHGriffin to advocate for LGBTQ+ issues, advance equality, and move our community forward. His leadership at @HRC has been pivotal to the progress we have observed. Thank you, Chad for your work — the fight continues. #EqualityForward
— Mark Takano (@RepMarkTakano) November 15, 2018
— Danica Roem (@pwcdanica) November 15, 2018
Even in 1992, when I first met him, it was clear Chad Griffin would do a lot of good in the world. Little did I know! Grateful for his leadership at @HRC in fighting against discrimination and for marriage equality, and mobilizing millions to build a more just, equal America.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 15, 2018