A reader writes about the Human Rights Campaign's commercial ambitions:
Your reference to the HRC's commercial appeals reminded me of another annoyance. They sell their lists of members to make extra cash. I signed up in 2004 as a supporter of any campaign to push back against inequality, which was the pitch they made when they solicited my membership in the midst of the Republican election-year assault. I signed up and became a member over the phone, contributed several times, and the confirmations would come back in the mail with a slight misspelling in my name. About a month later, my mailbox started getting spammed with gay culture magazine subscription offers and other lifestyle driven marketing approaches, all sent to the same misspelled name on my HRC membership. These weren't very effective on me because I'm married and straight.
I thought I was joining a political organization pushing for equal rights, only to find out that I was joining a marketing segment defined around a gay lifestyle. This seems a strange way to approach political organizing.
Not if you see them for what they are: a corporation designed to milk the gay market for money to hire more fundraisers and marketers to milk more gay pockets. It's a racket with a plush new multi-million dollar headquarters and salaries that would make corporate America blush. Have they actually done anything for gay rights? After a couple of decades observing them, my own view is: nada. Their main activity in the 1990s was selling the Clinton administration to gays. The reward was some jobs and sinecures for their own clique. And the reason they got along so well with the Clintons is that the Clintons are all about raising political money as well. You can see all HRC's consumer products - jewelry, designer fashion, candles, cuddly toys (as the "equality dog" above) and on and on - here. It all helps achieve what HRC is all about: the money. They get tens of millions of dollars a year from well-intentioned gay men and lesbians. They've been doing it for years. And what have we got? Nothing. Wake up, guys. Give your money to people who actually fight for gay equality.