A reader remonstrates:

On endless issues I agree with you, but your harshness on the issue of Hillary Clinton's involvement with the Human Rights Campaign strikes me as extreme and uncalled for. Her husband's administration was friendlier to gay rights than any of its predecessors and vastly friendlier, to be sure, than the current one. Why is it so awful and incomprehensible for a major gay rights organization to be friendly with a politician who has been, by and large, on their side?  You seem to expect major gay rights organizations to be totally neutral between Democrats and Republicans when the former have been vastly more supportive of gay rights than the latter and when the latter have spent much of their time demonizing gay people and trying to win votes at their expense.  Witness the Bush/Rove effort to boost the Bush vote in 2004 by pushing anti-gay-marriage amendments in the states.  If you doubt me on this, compare the quadrennial Democratic and Republican platforms over the last decades.

Politics is the art of the possible, and of course the Democrats fall far from perfection from a gay point of view. But in politics two-way-street loyalty counts for a lot. Why shouldn't gay activists reciprocate some of the loyalty to the Democratic Party that it has, on the whole, shown them?

The answer is: they have every right to and equally, I have every right to ask what the gay community is getting from the bargain. Under the Clintons, we gave them our last cent and we got an increase in discharges from the military and the Defense of Marriage Act. Maybe enough people have done the work to change the climate in the country and the new Congress will be more friendly. And if the Democrats repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in this Congress, I'll take it all back. But my bet is: It won't happen. So see if they can even get ENDA. Again: I'll give them full credit for results. But I fear they don't want results as much as they want access and power. After all: what happens if ENDA and hate crimes laws pass? What will HRC do? Meanwhile, here's the latest direct mail pitch:

Sturdy, stylish and with our thanks ... FREE limited-edition Field Bag for joining today!

HRC is the first civil rights group to tell its members to shop for accessories.