It was announced earlier today that Joe Solmonese will be succeeded by Chad Griffin as the new president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT civil rights organization. Griffin, 38, was finally selected by HRC's Board of Directors after an extensive six month search of over one hundred candidates. Solmonese, who joined HRC as president in 2005 and has led the organization through a series of amazing campaign victories over the last seven years, was named a national co-chair of the Obama campaign last month. He will continue leading HRC after the end of his contract this month until Griffin assumes his new position on the 11th of June 2012.
Griffin, an Arkansas native now based in Los Angeles, is well-versed in both local and state political campaigns beginning his career at the age of 19 working under Clinton White House press secretary Dee Dee Meyers. In 2008 he was brought in to lead the effort against the passage of California's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, and, after its 52% passing, challenged the vote-approved ban in federal court alongside writer, director, and political activist Rob Reiner. The ban has been twice thrown out as unconstitutional but the case is still on appeal. In 2009 the pair founded the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), a non-profit organization which aims to organize, publicize, and fund the federal lawsuit to overturn Proposition 8.
While Griffin is a fervent supporter of President Obama he has been openly critical of the president's stance on marriage equality, noting the president's support for states' rights to decide who can marry "a step backwards." Introducing Griffin as the new head of the Human Rights Campaign will definitely bring a fresh perspective to the organization. "We’re ecstatic to have someone of Chad’s caliber as our next president. His superior credentials and achievements, both as a visionary and strategist, make him uniquely qualified to lead this organization forward. Chad has a proven track record of consistently delivering results during his career. That’s something that our community rightly expects and deserves," note HRC Co-Chair Tim Downing and HRC Foundation Co-Chair Sandra Hartness.
His passion and dedication for activism shows time and again. He often cites his experience as a young gay man growing up in the south, as well as his goal of reducing the high rate of suicide among gay teenagers, as the driving force behind his work. We can look forward to many more successful campaigns with Griffin leading the Human Rights Campaign.
"All over this country in big cities and small towns, there are families and young people who long to be accepted for who they are, and who want be treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else. I’m honored by the board’s confidence in my ability to lead HRC. While there’s no doubt that we’ve made tremendous progress on the road to equality, we must not forget that millions of LGBT Americans still lack basic legal protections and suffer the consequences of discrimination every day. Today's generation of young people, and each generation hereafter, must grow up with the full and equal protection of our laws, and finally be free to participate in the American dream. As HRC president, I’ll approach our work with a great sense of urgency because there are real life consequences to inaction.”