Follow breaking news @lgbtqnation
Views & Voices

Time for HRC to put economic justice on the gay agenda

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The head of the Human Rights Campaign – Chad Griffin – is one damn smart cookie, and I wish he would put his brain to work with corporations to address economic justice issues for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

There’s been plenty of sucking up to the business community at the HRC, and little focus on money matters affecting low- and moderate-income LGBT people.

minimum-wageOn Monday, Dec. 30, the lead story in The New York Times was about Democratic Party leaders and 2014 congressional candidates gearing up for raising the minimum wage as an campaign issue:

Democrats prize the issue of a minimum wage increase because it would help address income inequality, which is galvanizing liberals at the moment and is popular with swing voters they will need in this year’s elections.

Sixty-four percent of independents, and even 57 percent of Republicans, said they supported increasing the minimum wage, according to a CBS News poll last month. Some 70 percent of self-described “moderates” said they also supported an increase.

That 57 percent figure for the GOP’s support of making the minimum wage more realistic startled me.

Earlier this month, I tried to elicit a statement from HRC leaders about economic justice concerns within the gay community, and all I got was silence.

Why can’t the HRC, the gay division of the Democratic Party, address such concerns?

Is it’s because of the robust six-figure salaries of the top HRC executives? Do such compensation amounts cut off their awareness of gays who don’t make that kind of money?

Or is it because the minimum wage increase doesn’t attract the attention of celebrities who appear at HRC dinners?

Thanks to the CBS News poll and the The New York Times, I know where many Republicans stand on increasing the minimum wage, versus the silence from the HRC.

Just a reminder to readers about the compensation packages at our largest political advocacy organization, here is how much HRC’s top-ten executives made last year, according to their 2013 IRS 990 filing:

  • Chad Griffin, President, started on June 11, 2012, at a base salary of $250,000, including a $20,000 incentive bonus, with an additional $50,000 bonus for an unstated reason, and $40,100 gross-up payment, for a total of $360,100.
  • Joe Solmonese, executive director through June 29, 2012, base salary of $238,300 plus $39,000 gross-up payment for a total of $277,300.
  • James Rinefierd, treasurer, base salary of $211,500 plus $64,000 gross-up payment for a total of $275,500.

  • Cathy Nelson, assistant vice president: $275,000.

  • Susanne Salkind, vice president, base salary of $212,700 plus $60,000 gross-up payment for a total of $272,700.

  • David M. Smith, vice president of programs: $250,300.

  • Fred Sainz, vice president of communications: $228,000.

  • Robert Falk, secretary, base salary of $166,500 plus $50,000 gross-up payment for a total of $216,500.

  • Allison Herwitt, legislative director: $197,500.

  • Ann Crowley, membership director: $175,000.

While HRC’s leaders are mum on increasing the minimum wage, an examination of their six most current IRS tax filings (available on their website) reveals there is one thing they very much are in favor of — giving themselves annual raises.

Will HRC make 2014 the year in which they address economic justice concerns such as a living wage, unemployment benefits and food stamps that are crucial to the safety net for millions of LGBT Americans? Yes, it could happen if enough of us demand it of the organization.

Let HRC know these concerns are on our collective “gay agenda.”

Opinions and advice expressed in our Views & Voices columns represent the author's own views and not necessarily those of LGBTQ Nation. We welcome opposing views and diverse perspectives. To submit a article, column or video, contact us here. Due to the volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee publication.

Share this article with your friends and followers:

Archives: , , ,

Filed under: Views & Voices

25 more reader comments:

  1. This is why I don’t donate to HRC – they need to check their privilege.

    Posted on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 6:35pm
  2. This accomplish what?? We can increase wages to $25 an hour; however, Gallon of milk will cost $15 a gallon, Gas will be $10 a gallon, etc… How many people order off of the dollar menu at fast food places??? Are you willing to pay $8 for a simple, small hamburger? What isn’t taken in consideration is the impact of the people a small amount above the minimum wage will not see any increases but will have to suffer the higher prices for electricity, food, gas, and entertainment. Why not increase your skills to get better jobs than wanting to stay a fry cook to make $40K a year. The low paying jobs should be a stepping stone and for high school kids. I worked minimum wage but went to college and continue to improve my skills myself not govt hand out.

    Posted on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 6:46pm
  3. IMHO Not really. Those are arguments of the administrators of huge corps who are disconnected from the labor class and only think about the profit margin. It is rationalization of undervaluing laborers, and those arguments are filled with confirmation biases. Laborers are too often paid the smallest income that administrators can convince is acceptable, while the profit margins are off the charts. Laborers could be paid more and the animal factories could become more humane, but somehow we would need to circumvent greedy and grasping disconnects of those who have more money than they could spend in 20 lifetimes.

    Replied on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 7:30pm
  4. Have you ever to economics or accounting course. Apparently, No.

    Replied on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 7:46pm
  5. The truth is that there's no strong evidence that your arguments are correct, and you would oppress laborers based on a spurious economic theory. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart for example, the Waltons each are billionaires in personal assets and then claim that raising wages would harm business. Your ad hominem is very immature.

    Replied on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 7:55pm
  6. not true prices will not go up that much and hasn't in the past

    Replied on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 8:13pm
  7. LOL You are so funny.. Thanks for the laughs.

    Replied on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 8:14pm
  8. You're welcome. I'm glad I spent my time in this intelligent discussion.

    Replied on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 8:24pm
  9. HRC should focus on equality not Minimum wage. They better not be exempt from the minimum wage for any of their staff, which mean donations will be small to the cause and heavy on administration cost.

    Posted on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 6:49pm
  10. What does economic justice have to do with the gay agenda? Don’t blur those lines….then you sound like some of “those Christians” that blur lines with the Bible. Want more money? Go to school get a better job. Minimum wage jobs are stepping stones. You aren’t supposed to work minimum wage jobs forever just like your not supposed to be on welfare forever. With as much tuition assistance as the government gives to low income there is NO reason someone cannot go and get a better job. Raise minumim wage and the cost of living goes up as well. Cause and effect people….it’s simple. Many teens cannot find jobs these days because their minimim wage jobs are taken by peoople that are to damn lazy to better themselves and get decent jobs. Not my problem.

    Posted on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 7:00pm
  11. I think there needs to be another organization focused on that mission or HRC can form another arm to work on this issue. I want hrc as it exists to be squarely focused on.marriage equality

    Posted on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 7:09pm
  12. The ignorance in some of these comments is ridiculous. The minimum wage was created specifically to provide a wage that was just enough to not live in poverty. Not everyone has the opportunity for higher education. Not everyone can afford higher education. My state university is about $6000 a semester, and were I not a Veteran, there is no way I would be able to go to school and pay all of my bills making $7.45/hr. Do you know what will happen when you give workers a living wage? The economy will improve because families (who are the majority of minimum wage workers) will be able to do more than just scrimp by.

    A higher wage is not a handout when it is earned, and when that wage is enough to actually live off of. That is the point of minimum wage. The minimum wage is supposed to be a living wage. Maybe if people had a living wage, they wouldn’t need SNAP benefits.

    And living wages are an LGBTQIAP/Queer issue, because it affects us too.

    Posted on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 7:14pm
  13. I have made less than 20K a year for the past 7 years and I have found ways to pay for college and I graduate in May. I disagree when you say not everyone can afford a higher education. There are thousands of programs out there to help. People just need to stop being lazy and find them.

    Replied on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 7:50pm
  14. Sure. Because things like systematic racism, disabilities, and discrimination don't exist. It's really easy to say those things when you are a white, cisgender man, the exact kind of person this society caters to. Must be nice being so oblivious to how the real world works for everyone else.

    Replied on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 7:53pm
  15. Michael Palmer – Marriage Equality is the least of the LGBTQIAP issues. I am more concerned with Federal Job and Housing protections, the inclusion of Trans* and Intersex people, LGBTQIAP Youth Homelessness, Hate Crimes, and the dismantling of the racist, classist, ableist, and sexist views that are perpetuated by groups like the HRC. Marriage Equality can wait as far as I’m concerned.

    Posted on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 7:19pm
  16. The HRC is just like any other organization. They only care about the rich GLTB community and could care less for the poor and care even less for the poor HIV infected people in our community. I stopped donating to them years ago and they will never get another dime out of me.

    Posted on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 7:48pm
  17. HRC needs to start caring about trans people

    Posted on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 8:29pm
  18. yea raise min. wage then everything else goes up and they layoff several employees and stop hiring….presto solved nothing and made life harder and more expensive for the rest of us…liberal logic.

    Posted on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 9:06pm
  19. Yes…a great idea, I will support it!

    Posted on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 9:16pm
  20. I keep seeing the stories about fast food workers wanting $15 an hour because they can’t afford to live on the current minimum wage. That’s pretty funny since I see plenty of them take smoke breaks. I’m sure they’d have more money if they quit smoking or cut other unnecessary things out of their lives. People need to stop living outside their means. And a business shouldn’t pay you based on your needs anyway; it should pay you based on the job you were hired to do. If your job is flipping patties then I don’t see that as being worth more than the current federal minimum wage. It’s also a shame that they want more money yet many of them refuse to adhere to even the most basic grooming standards nor do they understand it when I say I don’t want God-damned mayo on my burger! I’m getting tired of bottom of the food chain employees thinking they should have the same paycheck as the CEO. It’s just like those Occupy Wall Street losers thinking they were entitled to more of everything.

    Posted on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 9:31pm
  21. I live in Washington state we have the highest paid minimum wage and while it has been good for some. The owners of small locally owned business either laid off employees or went out of busines

    Posted on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 9:37pm
  22. Raising minimum wage to the rates being demanded will be detrimental to small businesses and cause large businesses to layoff and raise prices. The HRC has no place getting involved in this issue. They need to focus on why they were created and stay true to equal rights not higher pay for the bottom of the work ladder.

    Posted on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 10:44pm
  23. Tax the churches and all of our taxes will be lowered to practically nothing.

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 12:14am
  24. Until the HRC starts paying attention to trans issues, the hell with them.

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 1:04am
  25. Or transgender rights…

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 1:41am