Human Rights Campaign’s Executive Director, Chad Griffin, is a breakthrough trans-formative and transcendent leader for LGBT Americans.
Last year, I had the opportunity to attend Human Rights Campaign’s San Francisco Gala after four years of being a Partner Monthly Contributor. Previously, I bought the campaign tee shirts online or bracelets at the San Francisco store, even attended the fashion show fundraiser. It was the 2014 Gala that really opened my eyes to the advocacy, and outreach that the Human Rights Campaign and its leaders really achieve.
Specifically the inspiring and motivational speeches, that so accurately communicate the goals and intent of the LGBT Equality movement, presented by Chad Griffin and Dustin Lance Black. Mr. Griffin’s speeches, I found many more speeches archived on You Tube; they have been a great way to stay grounded and connected through my own activism; canvassing, three non-profit board positions, my journalism, and my own speeches.
Mr. Griffin sets a clear vision of equality that is far different than the rhetorical, outlandish, slanderous right wing claims. Having been raised in a conservative, churchgoing Arkansas family, Mr. Griffin shares the same traditional values of family, marriage, and the American Dream that most Americans, and most LGBT Americans are fighting to preserve.
His vision includes leading “Project One America,” HRC’s outreach in Southern States where previously there were no LGBT activist working on LGBT rights full-time. His 2014 National Gala speech specifically encourages “coalitions, outreach, and partnerships” with “Faith leaders, public officials, and corporate leaders, alike.” He has also led the way to include more diversity in the organization, in his “Southern Comfort” speech he reaches out to transgender people, apologizes for exclusion and a lack of representation (HRC.org, 2015).
His work for LGBT Rights started before his term at HRC. As a founder of the American Foundation For Equal Rights, he was instrumental in working with attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies in overturning California’s Ban on LGBT Marriage, Proposition 8. Working with Plaintiffs Chris Perry and Sandy Stier; Paul Katomi and Jeff Zarillo. He began working on President Bill Clinton’s campaign at 19 years old, graduated from Georgetown University, and became the Executive Director of the Nation’s largest LGBT Civil Rights Organization at the age of 39 (Wikipedia, 2015).
His message is always of inclusion; we need to “Tear down that dark wall of discrimination; for Everyone, Everywhere, Forever!” “State line road should only determine the number on your mailbox; not the opportunities for your future (HRC Dinner, 2014)!”
In the wake of an a amazing victory; winning marriage Equality in all 50 States, he is quick to remind us that ” The time has come for full federal equality, nothing more, nothing less (HRC Dinner, 2015).” There is significant backlash to marriage equality; Arkansas, Georgia, and Indiana have passed discriminatory workplace laws; Michigan restricting adoption for LGBT, Texas allowing any clerk to refuse a license on religious refusal (ACLU, 2015).
Mr. Griffin also talks about the strength it takes to come out of the closet; as he never fully did with his father before he died and the amount of discrimination that exists if that is true for him as leader of HRC (HRC Dinner, 2015).
The most common critique I hear about HRC is about a lack of diversity. When I attended the Equality Convention in Washington, D.C. this March it was one of the most diverse groups of people I could imagine. People came from all areas of the country; transgender members, inter-racial couples, women, men.
HRC National Dinner Speech 2014. HRC. Youtube.com.
Project One America. (2015). HRC.org.
Chad Griffin. (2015). Wikipedia.org. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chad_Griffin. Google.com
ACLU Canvasser brief. (2015). American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). ACLU.org