1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW
Founded in 1980, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is the largest -- with more than 750,000 members -- lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) lobbying group in the United States. Through its three interrelated branches -- the HRC Foundation, the HRC lobbying arm, and the HRC Political Action Committee -- this organization supports political candidates and legislation that will advance the LGBT agenda. Historically, HRC has most vigorously championed HIV/AIDS-related legislation, “hate crime” laws, the abrogation of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and the legalization of gay marriage.
Originally known as the Human Rights Campaign Fund, HRC in its earliest days focused on contributing money to LGBT-friendly candidates. The organization shortened its title in 1995 when it became an active lobbying agent.
HRC’s first presidential endorsement came in 1992, when it backed Bill Clinton’s successful campaign. In 1998, the organization lobbied heavily in support of federal hate-crimes legislation, particularly in light of the then-recent murders of Matthew Shepard (who was killed because he was gay) and James Byrd, Jr. (who was killed because he was black). Thanks in large measure to HRC’s lobbying efforts, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was eventually passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2009.
In 2004, when the Federal Marriage Amendment (a.k.a. the Marriage Protection Amendment) was drafted to define “marriage” solely as a union between one man and one woman, HRC was instrumental in persuading Congress to vote against it.
Though nominally a nonpartisan organization, HRC has many close ties to the Democratic Party, particularly to Bill and Hillary Clinton. Elizabeth Birch (HRC's former executive director), John Isa, Adrian Matanza, Jill Stauffer, David A.C. Turley, and Tony Wagner were among the key HRC figures who worked on Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Meanwhile, other HRC personnel maintain close ties to all manner of leftwing political figures and activist groups:
HRC has received financial support from the Ford Foundation, George Soros's Open Society Institute ($200,000 in 2008), and the Tides Foundation.
In 2012, HRC co-founder (and veteran board member of the HRC Foundation) Terry Bean donated more than $500,000 in support of President Barack Obama and other Democratic office seekers. As columnist Michelle Malkin reports: "He was rewarded with an exclusive Air Force One ride with Obama. The president also gave the developer a special shout-out at an opulent fundraiser in Portland, where Bean's family had established a longstanding political and corporate fiefdom. Bean gleefully rubbed elbows with first lady Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton — and made sure everyone on his Flickr photo-sharing site knew it."
In November 2014, after an intensive investigation led by the Portland police department's sex-crime units and two county district attorney's offices, law-enforcement authorities charged Bean with two felony counts of third-degree sodomy and one misdemeanor count of third-degree sex abuse. The charges stemmed from a September 2013 incident where the 65-year-old Bean and his 24-year-old boyfriend had allegedly enticed a 15-year-old boy to a Eugene, Oregon hotel room after meeting him through the iPhone application "Grinder," which helps men locate "local gay, bi and curious guys for dating.''
In June 2015, Buzzfeed News reported that an HRC-commissioned internal review of its own leadership culture had discovered numerous systemic shortcomings in the organization's treatment of heterosexuals:
"Staff at the Human Rights Campaign last fall described the working environment at the nation’s largest LGBT rights group as 'judgmental,' 'exclusionary,' 'sexist,' and 'homogenous,' according to a sharply critical report that was commissioned by HRC and obtained by BuzzFeed News.
"Based on a series of focus groups and surveys with the staff, conducted by outside consultants, the report detailed systemic problems within HRC — ranging from treatment of employees, including those who are transgender, to concerns about human resources and organizational commitment to diversity and inclusion. [...]
"'Leadership culture is experienced as homogenous — gay, white, male,' the report stated. 'Exclusion was broad-based and hit all identity groups within HRC. A judgmental working environment, particularly concerning women and feminine-identified individuals, was highlighted in survey responses.'"