A political strategist from California who has played a leading role in trying to overturn the state's same-sex marriage ban was named Friday as the new president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights lobbying and education group.
The Washington-based campaign's directors voted to hire Chad Griffin, 38, to replace outgoing president Joe Solmonese, who announced last year that he would step down after seven socially transformative and sometimes internally stormy years at the organization's helm.
... With annual revenues of about $40 million and a staff of 150, the Human Rights Campaign is recognized in Washington as the nation's most influential gay rights group. President Barack Obama has twice spoken at its annual fundraising dinner, and the organization claims credit for a host of gay rights advances that have taken place under Obama's watch, from the passage of a law making violence against gays a federal hate crime to new rules guaranteeing same-sex partners hospital visitation rights.
But HRC also has been criticized within the gay rights movement for being too cautious and representing only the interests of financially well-off gays. Solmonese was heavily criticized in 2007, for example, when the group agreed to support a congressional bill that would have extended job and housing protections to gay men and lesbians but not transgender people.