GayPatriot Reader and blogger Eva Young e-mailed me to note that there might be changes afoot at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) as that liberal-leaning, but ostensibly bipartisan organization was only opposing the confirmation of one of President Bush’s nominees to the federal bench–William Pryor (whose confirmation your humble blogger also opposed). Many other gay groups joined the swarm of liberal interest groups supporting Democratic filibusters against a number of the president’s nominees. Yet, like Log Cabin, HRC, it seemed, was opposing only the one with a clearly anti-gay record.
To see whether or not this was true, I called up and HRC. I spoke first with Deputy Director of Media Relations, Mark Shields, who told me that “Pryor is the only one [judicial nominee] we are actively opposing because of his views against GLBT Americans.” Shields cited the amicus brief that Pryor had filed as Alabama Attorney General in Lawrence v. Texas where he “compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia.” The Senate confirmed Pryor last week by a vote of 53-45 with three Republicans voting against his confirmation.
Later, I spoke with HRC’s Senior Counsel Lara Schwartz who told me that HRC “did not take a formal position on [Priscilla] Owen nor on [Janice] Rogers Brown,” two recently-confrmed nominees whom many liberal groups had opposed. Schwartz also drew my attention to a February letter that HRC had signed in which a variety of interest groups expressed “deep concern about the about the level of review” the Senate Judiciary committee was undertaking “regarding the nomination of Terrence Boyle to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.” Schwartz later e-mailed me, writing, “HRC formally opposes the nomination of Terrance Boyle to the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.”
By and large, it seems that HRC has steered clear of the liberal position on federal judges to focus on those appointees of greatest concern to gay and lesbian Americans. And that’s not the only change I see at HRC. While other gay organizations and activists, including HRC’s own immediate past president, have portrayed the president as an anti-gay demon, a recent HRC press release acknowledged the president’s opposition to discrimination against gay and lesbian federal employees.
When HRC called Special Counsel Scott Bloch a “rogue employee,” it recognized that by failing to investigate federal employees’ claims of discrimination, Bloch was going against Bush Administration policy.
HRC President Joe Solmonese said
Mr. Bloch is ignoring the anti-discrimination directive from the White House. . . . The Bush administration has clearly stated its support for the enforcement of sexual orientation discrimination protections.
HRC also quoted directly from a White House statement to back up its claim:
In April 2004, the White House released the following statement: Longstanding federal policy prohibits discrimination against federal employees based on sexual orientation. President Bush expects federal agencies to enforce this policy and to ensure that all federal employees are protected from unfair discrimination at work.
This blog has long faulted HRC for its failure to live up its own claim to be a “bipartisan organization.” In the past, it seemed that HRC opposed all things Republican while remaining unwilling to acknowledge the positive aspects of the president’s mixed record on gay issues.
HRC’s stand on federal judges shows that it is no longer opposed to all things Republican; it has not joined the liberal bandwagon on this issue. And in its release on Scott Bloch, it recognizes the Administration’s opposition to discrimination based on sexual orientation. These changes are in themselves not enough to convince me that HRC has changed its ways, but they are a sign that the organization is moving in the right direction. So, I’ll keep an eye on their efforts in the coming months to see if this trend continues and to see if they come clean about their actual membership.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
UPDATE: I amended this post when receiving an e-mail from HRC’s Lara Schwartz indicating that her group opposes the nomination of Terrence Boyle to the 4th Circuit.