Posted on February 15, 2011
Source: Press Release

Longtime Equality Champion Will Lead City for All Chicagoans

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign announced its endorsement of Rahm Emanuel for Mayor of Chicago. The former White House Chief of Staff and member of Congress representing Chicago’s northwest side has a consistent record of support for LGBT Americans and was instrumental in enacting hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples nationwide.

“Rahm Emanuel has been a champion for equality throughout his career in public service,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “His dedication to the LGBT community and his commitment to fairness for all Chicagoans makes him a stellar choice for Mayor.”

“From passing hate crimes legislation, to extending visitation rights to LGBT couples, to repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, we have worked together to advance equality for LGBT Americans.  I look forward to continuing to work with HRC to advance the cause of equality in every community and neighborhood in Chicago if I have the privilege of serving as Mayor,” said Rahm Emanuel.

While in Congress, Emanuel was a consistent supporter of LGBT equality and scored 100% on the HRC Congressional Scorecard for each of the three terms he served. More recently, he was a key driver behind the President’s executive order on hospital visitation protections for same-sex couples. Additionally his campaign website points out his support for the civil unions law in Illinois and that he “continues to believe that full marriage equality, in name and in rights, should always be the goal.”

“Confronted by my family’s story, it was Rahm Emanuel who saw an injustice and brought it to the President’s attention in order to make the lives of same-sex couples better,” said Janice Langbehn, the catalyst for the hospital visitation regulations who was shut out of the emergency room as her partner Lisa Pond was dying. “I have no doubt that he will bring that same kind of enthusiasm and passion to his job as mayor of Chicago and I am proud to endorse his candidacy.”

“As a Chicagoan, I know Rahm Emanuel will be a great partner with our local LGBT community as we work together to improve the lives of all our citizens,” said John Barry, a member of the HRC Board of Directors.
From President Barack Obama:

This morning, I signed into law a bill that represents the most sweeping reforms of Wall Street since the Great Depression, and the toughest consumer financial protections this nation has ever seen. I know that I am able to do so only because the tens of thousands of volunteers who make up the backbone of this movement overcame the most potent attack ads and the most powerful lobbying the special interests could put forward.

Our special-interest opponents and their Republican allies have now set their sights on the elections in November as their best chance to overturn the historic progress we’ve made together.

Organizing for America counts entirely on supporters like you to fight back — no special interests, no corporate PACs. To keep making change and to defend the change we have already won, we need you — and at least 14 other people in your area — to contribute so we have the resources necessary going into the election.
Please donate $5 today and help Organizing for America lay the groundwork for the fights ahead.

Because of Wall Street reform, we will ensure that Americans applying for a credit card, a mortgage, or a student loan will never again be asked to sign their name under pages of confusing fine print. We will crack down on abusive lending practices and make sure that lenders don’t cheat the system — and create a new watchdog to enforce these consumer protections.

And we will put an end to taxpayer-funded bailouts, giving us the ability to wind down any large financial institution if it should ever fail. The passage of Wall Street reform is at the forefront of the change we seek, and it will provide a foundation for a stronger and safer economy.

It is a foundation built upon the progress of the Recovery Act, which has turned 22 months of job losses into six consecutive months of private-sector job growth. And it is a foundation reinforced by the historic health reform we passed this spring, which is already giving new benefits to more than 100 million Americans, ushering another 1 million Americans into coverage by next year. But today’s victory is not where our fight ends.

Organizing for America and I will move forward in the months ahead on the tough fights we have yet to finish — even if cynics say we should wait until after the fall elections. This movement has never catered to the conventional wisdom of Washington. And we have fought to ensure that our progress is never held hostage by our politics.
You and I did not build this movement to win one election. We did not come together to pass one single piece of legislation. We are fighting for nothing less than a new foundation for our country — and that work is not complete. As we face the challenges ahead, I am relying on you to stand with me.

Please donate $5 or more today:

Thank you for helping us get here,
Barack Obama
Posted on May 14, 2010
by David Cohen


“We are confident that Elena Kagan has a demonstrated understanding and commitment to protecting the liberty and equality of all Americans, including LGBT Americans” said Joe Solmonese.
    The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today hailed President Obama’s selection of United States Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the nominee for the opening on the United States Supreme Court created by the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens.
    “We applaud President Obama for choosing Elena Kagan to become our nation’s next U.S. Supreme Court Justice,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “The U.S. Supreme Court decides cases that intimately affect the lives of all Americans. We are confident that Elena Kagan has a demonstrated understanding and commitment to protecting the liberty and equality of all Americans, including LGBT Americans.”
    Issues that are critical to the LGBT community may reach the Supreme Court in the next few years, including issues related to marriage equality, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, the Defense of Marriage Act, and the new federal hate crimes law.    When issues like these come to the Supreme Court, it is vital that we have fair-minded judges to rule on these cases.
    In addition, we commend President Obama for his commitment to diversity and expanding the number of women on the Court. Diversity on the Court brings a broader view of the way that the law affects real people, including LGBT people. Once confirmed, Elena Kagan would be the fourth woman to serve on our nation’s highest court and would be the third woman sitting on the current Supreme Court, marking the highest representation of women on the Court in its history.
    Elena Kagan will bring extensive legal experience and a strong background as a previously Senate-confirmed government official to the nation’s highest court. As Solicitor General in the Obama Administration, as a former legal advisor on domestic policy in the Clinton Administration and as the former Dean of Harvard Law School, Elena Kagan has demonstrated a commitment to fairness and equality. Specifically, we applaud Elena Kagan’s vocal opposition to the Solomon Amendment and the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.
    HRC will continue examining the record of Elena Kagan on issues that affect the LGBT community. Moreover, we look forward to the Senate’s thorough examination of Elena Kagan’s judicial philosophy and record. To learn more about federal judicial nominations and to follow our work on these crucial issues visit HRC’s Equality in the Courts page.

HRC defines a fair-minded judge as a person who demonstrates:
  • A commitment to full equality under law for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans;
  • individuals living with HIV and AIDS; women; people with disabilities and racial, ethnic, and religious minorities;
  • A commitment to the constitutional right to privacy and individual liberty, including the right of two
  • consenting adults to enter into consensual intimate relationships;
  • A respect for the constitutional authority of Congress to promote equality and civil rights and provide statutory remedies for discrimination and violence;
  • A sophisticated understanding of and commitment to the separation of church and state and the protection of those citizens with minority religious views; and
  • A respect for state legislatures’ attempts to address discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation, disability, race, ethnicity and other factors through carefully crafted legislation that meets the requirements of the Constitution.
Posted on May 7, 2010

by Cindy Frazier – City Editor of the L A Times and Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot

Sit down, Sarah Palin. Move over, Mitt Romney. Fred Karger would like the floor — the floor at the Republican National Convention, that is.

Karger, the Laguna Beach gay activist who has taken a multimillionaire to task for closing the Boom Boom Room and launched a nationwide effort to defend same-sex marriage against the National Organization for Marriage, is now looking at running for president in 2012.

Yes, president. As in “The President.” As a Republican — the first openly gay man of a major party (sic).

Karger announced his exploratory campaign a few weeks ago at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans — the same confab where Sarah Palin drew huge crowds as she both lambasted and cajoled members of the party she would like to (again) represent.

Despite Palin’s credibility with the “Tea Party” crowd, Karger sees himself as the only real independent in the running.

Here’s his opening salvo, which sounds very presidential: “Our nation is facing tremendous challenges right now. I pledge to put new effective leadership in place to end our nation’s economic crisis. I will work tirelessly to bring back the spirit in every man, woman and child to help remake America the land of opportunity and equality for all.”
Issues of specific interest to the gay community are central to his theme: ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; passing the federal Employment Anti-Discrimination law; eliminating the federal Defense of Marriage Act; making same-sex marriage legal across the country; and making a top priority finding a cure for HIV/AIDS and a vaccine to prevent HIV.

If this all sounds very serious and well thought-out, it is. That’s because Karger has a 35-year background in politics that many politicians would pay a lot for — and did, when he was in the political consulting business.
Karger points out that this wouldn’t be his first foray into presidential politics — far from it. As a paid political consultant, Karger has worked on numerous presidential campaigns, including that of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan-George Bush, Paul Laxalt, Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush, among others. His own campaign would be his 10th.

He cut his teeth on presidential politics when Richard Nixon ran for reelection in 1972 and started out as a headquarters volunteer for Charles Percy’s U.S. Senate campaign in Illinois in 1966. He’s also worked on congressional and legislative campaigns for the likes of Maureen Reagan, Mike Curb, George Deukmejian and other prominent Republicans.

He was considered a “dark arts” political operative, managing hard-charging opposition campaigns such as the “Willie Horton” incident — the case of a parolee, released by the candidate, who went on to commit heinous crimes — that scuttled the presidential ambitions of Mike Dukakis. (He’s now using a similar incident to attack anti-gay conservative Republican Mike Huckabee.)

But for most of those years, Karger was hiding a secret that could have ended his high-flying career, and, he feared, alienated his conservative family. As a gay man, he would tremble if he found himself at a local restaurant with family or colleagues where he might meet a friend from his secret life.

Like many successful gays and lesbians, Karger kept up a charade, enlisting a lesbian friend as a “skirt” to accompany him to social events so he could pass as straight. It worked, but it took a toll.

It was only after he retired, a few years ago, that he “came out” — and came out swinging at the forces of anti-gay bigotry that led him to lead a difficult double life and that continue to this day.

This opened up a new world for Karger, who can now use his political savvy for causes he truly believes in. And as if to reward himself for taking the high road, he is finding out that his Californians Against Hate campaign is paying huge dividends.

It was, in fact, the overwhelming response to his “Five for Fred” fundraising campaign — to raise money for legal bills after the National Organization for Marriage subpoenaed all communications from the Hate campaign — that convinced him a presidential bid was the next step. He raised $25,000 in a few weeks, mostly in small donations from around the country.

“I’ve given it a huge amount of thought,” he said. “I went to New Hampshire and met with gay groups and moderate Republicans, and met with a representative of the Jewish Coalition in Washington, D.C.” When he visited the gay-straight alliance at Dartmouth, he said, “I met with 40 kids, and they were enthralled. I want to make it easier for kids.”

In New Orleans, he was gratified by the attention he got from the media, but it was not without a struggle.
He had to fight to get a spot at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, after he was denied a place alongside the front-runners such as Palin. Instead, he went through the back door, rented a room in the conference hotel, and invited the media to his own news conference. Many showed up.

On Monday, he headed back to New Hampshire, where he says he plans to rent a house and begin the hand-to-hand combat of winning voters in that early-primary state.

Realistically, he says he’s not expecting to win the Republican nomination, but he does hope to win hearts and minds and move a gay rights agenda into the national spotlight.

For more information, visit

Posted on March 24, 2010
by David Cohen

Health Care and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Battles Mirror Agenda That Weakened Clinton Presidency

In pushing through health care reforms and changes in how the military’s ban on openly gay service is applied, President Obama may be positioning himself to succeed on the two main domestic issues that hobbled the first years of the Clinton administration. While a legislative battle over the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” still lies ahead, on Friday the Pentagon’s office of the General Counsel gave Defense Secretary Robert Gates its recommendation for how to apply “don’t ask, don’t tell” in a way that is “more appropriate and fair.” The Pentagon has said it will make those intentions public this week.

According to researchers at the Palm Center, the changes could be the first significant alterations to how the ban on openly gay service is implemented since the current policy took effect in 1994. “If the ban is relaxed,” said Aaron Belkin, Director of the Palm Center, “President Obama would be moving toward an important goal, one that President Clinton hoped to achieve early in his presidency.” Belkin said the changes, which could include disallowing third-party allegations as admissible evidence for gay discharges, could represent “the first cracks in Humpty Dumpty in seventeen years, and a major step toward the inevitable repeal of the law.”

Nathaniel Frank, Senior Research Fellow and author of Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America, added that both Obama and Clinton faced heated opposition to their agendas. Yet, he said, “Despite enormous resistance to reform in both the health care and gay troops debates, this President has held together a coalition that pushed changes through in health care and ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ If he builds on this progress by fighting successfully for legislative repeal of the gay ban, he will ensure his place in civil rights history not only for his own story, but as a fierce advocate of equal treatment for all.”

The Palm Center is a think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Since 1998, the Center has been a leader in commissioning and disseminating research in the areas of gender, sexuality, and the military.
For more information visit