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social sciences

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Griffin, Chad (b. 1973)  
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Griffin's willingness to engage with people across theological and political divides, without in any way compromising his insistence on the need for equality, may be a valuable asset as president of HRC.

Reaction to Selection as President of HRC

When Griffin's selection as successor to Solmonese was announced by the HRC in March 2012, the response was overwhelmingly positive, especially from the gay blogosphere, who hoped he would bring a more aggressive leadership to the organization. At the same time, however, others noted with trepidation his involvement in the Proposition 8 campaign and in the 2012 campaign against North Carolina's constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage. Others pointed out that the corporate structure of HRC might itself be resistant to radical change.

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Still, even before assuming leadership of HRC on June 11, 2012, Griffin exhibited unusual independence. He seemed more aggressive in criticizing policies of the Obama administration. He was, for example, openly critical of the President's slow evolution on the question of same-sex marriage.

Moreover, when Vice President Biden said on NBC's "Meet the Press" in May 2012 that he was "absolutely comfortable" with married gay couples having the "same exact rights" as straight couples, Griffin aggressively touted the remarks as an endorsement of marriage equality. When the White House and even the HRC were waffling on the question, Griffin told the Washington Post that "only in Washington and only in politics could someone parse the words of what the vice president said."

When, days later on May 9, the President endorsed marriage equality, Griffin issued another statement calling on members of Congress to follow his lead. "The American public has expressed interest in where their elected officials stand on the issue of marriage for gay and lesbian couples," Griffin said. "The president has had the courage and integrity to speak out for marriage equality. Now is the time for members of Congress to do so too."

Marriage Equality on the Ballot

Given Griffin's experience in running campaigns he may have been the best person to helm the HRC in 2012, when marriage equality was the focus of the November election in at least four states.

Although Griffin has expressed his repugnance at having a minority's rights subject to a majority's approval at the ballot box, he nevertheless responded effectively and aggressively to one of the first challenges he faced as president of HRC: confronting the four questions regarding same-sex marriage that were on the ballot in November 2012.

In Maine, voters considered positively adopting same-sex marriage in a referendum. In Maryland and Washington, voters debated whether to approve marriage-equality laws adopted by the legislature but challenged by petitioners. In Minnesota, voters decided whether to approve an amendment to the state constitution that bans same-sex marriage.

Among his earliest decisions as president of HRC was to pledge $250,000 to each of the campaigns fighting for marriage equality. The decision yielded success not only in helping fund the sweep that took place in the historic November 2012 election, where all four ballot questions concerning equal rights were answered favorably by the voters, but also in establishing HRC as a more aggressive organization than it had been perceived.

Griffin, however, knows that the quest for equal rights goes beyond marriage equality. As he told Chris Geidner, ''I don't think anyone who knows me would say anything other than that I'm committed to full equality.'' He noted that ''it's not any one thing that impacts the life of a gay person. 'We have to fight the battle on all fronts, whether it's school bullying, an inclusive ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act), or a whole host of other things, political or otherwise.''

Griffin himself is neither married nor in a domestic partnership. He is, however, half of what has been described as "D.C.'s newest gay power couple."

He has been linked romantically for several years to Jerome Fallon, who accompanied him to the March 2012 state dinner at the White House for British Prime Minister David Cameron. In a gesture that set tongues wagging both in the mainstream media and the gay blogosphere, Griffin and Fallon were seated at President Obama's table.

After the dinner, Griffin told Karen Ocamb, "It was a tremendous honor and privilege to even be in the room and a grand surprise to be seated at the table with a war veteran, with the mom of war veterans, with the Prime Minister, the President, the First Lady – it was really a unique and special night."

Claude J. Summers

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Bajko, Matthew S. "HRC Pick Largely Praised." The Bay Area Reporter (March 8, 2012):

Geidner, Chris. "Rise of the Griffin." MetroWeekly (March 5, 2012):

Higgins, Bill. "How Rob Reiner, Bruce Cohen and Dustin Lance Black Helped Defeat Prop. 8." The Hollywood Reporter (February 16, 2012):

Johnson, Chris. "A New Era Begins for HRC under Chad Griffin." Washington Blade (June 7, 2012):

Kilday, Greg. "How Rob Reiner Became Anti-Prop 8 Kingpin." The Hollywood Reporter (August 5, 2010):

Martel, Ned. "New Head of Human Rights Campaign Aims to Stop Losing Streak for Gay Marriage." Washington Post (July 25, 2012):

Nuss, Jeannie. "Chad Griffin, Human Rights Campaign President, Influenced by Arkansas Roots." Huffington Post (July 6, 2012):

Ocamb, Karen. "Theron's a Hoot, Matthews Praises Solmonese and Griffin's a Hit at HRC Gala in LA." LGBT / POV (March 18, 2012):

Peacock, Leslie Newell. "From Wal-Mart to the White House." Arkansas Times (December 10, 2009):

Svetvilas, Chuleenan. "Challenging Prop 8: The Hidden Story." California Lawyer (January 2012):

Weiner, Rache. "A Gay Marriage Advocate with Ears in the White House." Washington Post (May 10, 2012):

"Will New HRC President Be a Game Changer?" The Advocate (April 18, 2012):


    Citation Information
    Author: Summers, Claude J.  
    Entry Title: Griffin, Chad  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2012  
    Date Last Updated April 26, 2014  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2012 glbtq, Inc.  


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