Human Rights Campaign president visits Georgetown

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, spoke at Georgetown University yesterday about “Beyond DADT Repeal: The Future of the LGBTQ Rights Movement.”

The event, sponsored by the Georgetown University Lecture Fund, Georgetown Pride, and the LGBTQ Resource Center, attracted the attention of the conservative blog Catholic Campus Watch, which pronounced that the lecture “…spells out the sad reality that on many Catholic campuses, especially at Georgetown, perennial Catholic morality is often rejected, and the immoral agenda of the homosexual movement is welcomed.”

Despite Catholic Campus Watch’s opposition—and perhaps in part because of it—Solmonese’s lecture drew a large crowd to Copley Formal Lounge.

Solmonese praised Georgetown’s non-discrimination policy, as well as the LGBTQ Resource Center.

Addressing DADT’s repeal, Solmonese framed the discussion with a question: How can we make sense of LGBT victories when they are clearly long overdue? Reminding the audience of activists’ “empowered, strategic” responses to discriminatory policies, Solmonese argued that actions such as the repeal of DADT and the passage of the Matthew Shepherd Act still count as victories for the community.

He acknowledged the argument that activists could simply wait for what will be inevitable LGBT rights, but urged the community to instead take action in order to expedite the process of breaking down discriminatory regulations and practices.

Solmonese spoke of marriage equality as the next step in the LGBT rights campaign, as the issue has sparked and continues to spark national conversation, pointing to Maryland, New York, and Rhode Island as states to watch in the marriage debate. He predicted that greater marriage rights and protections against institutional discrimination would be granted to gay and lesbian couples in the near future.

In the same vein, Solmonese warned that efforts to turn back the clock on marriage equality in New Hampshire and Iowa might arise given the recent change in the states’ political representation.

He noted that HRC is not only working on lobbying the government, but private business as well. While the federal government has no overarching law against LGBT workplace discrimination, over 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies have implemented non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation, and an additional 40 percent include gender identity in those policies.

Looking to the 52 percent of Americans who support marriage equality, Solmonese argued that the people of the United States have within them an innate sense of justice, one which has only begun to reveal itself in the fight for LGBT rights.

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