The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is the largest LGBT advocacy group in the US. Founded in 1980 by Steve Endean; a self-described “Midwestern Catholic boy” who once considered the priesthood, Endean found some initial support in the Catholic Church when he held LGBT advocacy meetings (a group later organized into the Gay Rights Legislative Committee) at the Newman Center when he was a student at the University of Minnesota during the early-1970s. Endean’s early concerns were focused on influencing local elections to further the burgeoning gay rights movement. Another pioneering LGBT rights group (active in the 1970s) was the National Gay Task Force that included Jesuit priest Robert Carter as one of its original founders. Endean died of AIDS in 1993.
According to HRC’s “Mission Statement:”
The Human Rights Campaign envisions a world where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people are ensured equality and embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
HRC is incredibly active on the local, state, and federal levels to support and influence policy and legislation that might concern the LGBT community; HRC has advocated for same-sex marriage, LGBT-inclusive educational programs at schools, and state and federal laws that prohibit so called “conversion” or reparative therapy. HRC boldly states:
The Human Rights Campaign, along with tens of thousands of advocates, works around the clock to lobby members of Congress on critical legislation that would greatly affect the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that HRC gained popular national recognition during the lead-up to the Supreme Court decision (Obergefell v. Hodges) in 2015 that legalized same-sex marriage in the US. The HRC logo (the equal sign) became an unofficial symbol for the same-sex marriage cause. During this period of time (2012-2019), the Executive Director of HRC was Chad Griffin. A graduate of Jesuit Georgetown University, in 2013 Griffin spoke about his Catholic education and how he believed that it does not prohibit same-sex marriage:
“Nowhere, ever, did it tell me to oppose a right that I might have. Or to support discrimination against my brothers and sisters.”
The objectives of the HRC are not limited to simply influencing secular governments, the group also maintains a keen interest in assisting those who want to change the teachings of the Catholic Church that pertain to homosexuality and gender issues. On their website, the HRC makes available a downloadable guide entitled: “Coming Home to Catholicism and to Self.” There are separate guides that target other religions, such as: Islam, Judaism, and Mormonism. The Catholic “guide” relies heavily on the opinions of Jeannine Gramick of New Ways Ministry and representatives from the pro-LGBT dissident groups Dignity and Call to Action. In HRC’s Catholic guide, Gramick stated:
“Historically, the Christian church has changed how it views sexuality but only officially after the change first occurred at the bottom, among the people. As a community, when we listen to each other’s stories, and feel for each other, we’ll experience a change of attitude.”
“[Pope] Francis says don’t obsess on cultural issues. He asks us to be obsessed with loving people, with supporting people, with having compassion. That’s the first step.”
Gramick was officially silenced by the Vatican in 1999; an order which she ignored; and in 2010 the USCCB declared that New Ways Ministry “has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church” to speak on the LGBT issue. Regardless, in 2016 Jesuit priest James Martin accepted the “Bridge Building Award” from Gramick and News Ways Ministry – and the address he delivered at the ceremony served as a basis for his book “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.” Since then, Martin has repeatedly recommended New Ways Ministry and participated in their various conferences and events. Via his official social media accounts, Martin regularly criticizes reparative therapy and has encouraged bishops to do the same.
In 2020, Martin was interviewed by HRC for a feature article: “Bridging the Gap: Welcoming LGBTQ People into the Church This Easter” and in a promotional video for the HRC website. Regarding his recent meeting with Francis at the Vatican, Martin said:
“I was just advocating. I was just bringing the voices of LGBT people into that room with me and that’s what I felt like my mission was — to be their voice. And [Pope Francis] was very inspiring and encouraging and positive.”
On May 6, 2020, presidential candidate and Catholic-born Joe Biden received the official endorsement of HRC. According to HRC:
“[Biden’s] LGBTQ platform is the most comprehensive LGBTQ equality plan by a presumptive presidential nominee in our nation’s history.”
On Biden’s official campaign website is a special page dedicated to LGBT issues: “THE BIDEN PLAN TO ADVANCE LGBTQ+ EQUALITY IN AMERICA AND AROUND THE WORLD.” Including restoration of federal funding for Planned Parenthood and the banning of reparative therapy (this would include the passage of the “Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2019” which would prohibit reparative therapy for any individual, including adults), the centerpiece of Biden’s plan is the enactment of the “Equality Act” during his first 100 days as President. The Equality Act would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Among other problematic features, the Equality Act would prohibit all religious exemptions – for example, if churches or religious institutions prohibited employees from engaging in homosexual behavior, they would be in violation of the Equality Act.
In 2016 Biden obtained an officiating certification in order to “marry” a male same-sex couple. As Vice-President, Biden attended Mass at the Jesuit parish of Holy Trinity in Washington DC. The parish is home to an “LGBTQIA+ Ministry.” Also in 2016, Vice-Presidential nominee and Catholic-born Tim Kaine (an original co-sponsor of the Equality Act) stated, during a speech at an HRC event, that one day the Catholic Church would accept same-sex marriage. Kaine graduated from an all-boys Jesuit high-school and later served as a Jesuit missionary.
The current Chaplain for the US House of Representatives is Jesuit priest Patrick Conroy. He is also a supporter of the pro-LGBT Catholic ministry “Out at St. Paul” which is located at the Paulist parish of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City. Conroy appeared in a series of testimonial videos created by the ministry; it included a same-sex couple who are also members of “Out at St. Paul.” One of the men stated:
If we leave it, if we abandon the Church then it’s never going to change. So we have to continue living here, being an example and encouraging other people to be that example because that’s what’s going to change the Church.