After a six-year period leading the nation’s largest LGBT group that culminated in massive gains for LGBT rights supporters on Election Day 2018, Chad Griffin has signaled his intent to step down as president of the Human Rights Campaign.
“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this incredible organization at such an important moment in the history of our movement — and our nation,” Griffin said in a statement Thursday. “The true strength of the Human Rights Campaign is in its fearless army of staff and volunteers, who are committed to ensuring full equality reaches every LGBTQ person across America, and around the world. For decades, this organization has shown the world that love conquers hate. But this year, in this election, with the future of our democracy on the ballot and the equality of future generations on the line, we proved that votes conquer hate, too.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, the HRC Board will work to establish an executive search process for Griffin’s successor in the coming weeks.
The news was first reported by the Associated Press. The AP reported Griffin informed staff of his intent to depart the Human Rights Campaign earlier on Thursday.
Griffin’s tenure at the Human Rights Campaign ended with massive gains in a “blue” wave that resulted in Democratic control of the U.S. House, Jared Polis becoming the first openly gay person elected governor and four new lesbian, gay and bisexual candidates elected to the House. The wins were bolstered this week when Kyrsten Sinema was confirmed as the winner in the U.S. Senate race in Arizona, making her the first openly bisexual person to elected to the chamber.
The Human Rights Campaign contributed to this effort with a $26 million #TurnOut campaign to vote that sought to motivate the estimated 10 million Americans who identify as LGBT and 52 million Americans who support pro-LGBT policies to vote in the election. The #TurnOUT campaign identified six states — Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — on which to focus its efforts.
In a conference call with reporters last week, Griffin touted those contributions and said they helped drive the “blue” wave on Election Day that ousted anti-LGBT members of Congress, calling it the “largest grassroots expansion in the history of the Human Rights Campaign.”
“It is not only ousting these anti-LGBT equality members of Congress,” Griffin said. “If you look at the pro-equality champions they were replaced by, all across the country, in red, blue and purple states alike, they were defeated by not just pro-equality champions, but candidates who actually fought for our votes and made passing the Equality Act one of the top campaign issues in their districts.”
But Griffin’s work to advance LGBT rights pre-dates his tenure at the Human Rights Campaign. In 2009, shortly after the passage of Proposition 8 in California, Griffin established the American Foundation for Equal Rights, hiring the dream team of Ted Olson and David Boies to challenge the ban on same-sex marriage in court.
The lawsuit was filed contrary to wishes of major LGBT rights groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, over fears the lawsuit was too risky and would be unsuccessful. Although the litigations winded through the courts for several years before making to the Supreme Court, where justices ultimately issued a ruling based on standing and not the merits of the case, the lawsuit resulted in the restoration of marriage equality to California.
More to come…
This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National Gay Media Association.