Yesterday, after a progressive seven-year tenure as the Human Rights Campaign president, Chad Griffin informed HRC’s Board of Directors he would depart the organization in 2019.
“Under Griffin’s leadership the last seven years, HRC has become a leader in the resistance to the Trump-Pence administration, and one of the most politically powerful organizations in the country,” the group said in a press release. “HRC doubled its membership, staff, and budget to meet its expanded goals and opportunities. During Griffin’s tenure, HRC has led efforts to win marriage equality, introduce the Equality Act which would establish explicit federal civil rights protections for LGBTQ people, launched the largest grassroots expansion in the organization’s 38-year history ahead of the 2018 midterms, and established new programs to expand protections across the Deep South and around the globe.”
“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,” said Griffin. “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.”
Griffin began his political career at the age of 19 in the communications office for the Clinton White House. After two years he moved to Los Angeles where he ran a charitable foundation for director and actor Rob Reiner. Griffin was tapped to spearhead the effort to stop Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage. After it passed with 52 percent of the vote, Griffin and Reiner challenged the initiative in federal court, a move opposed initially by most established gay rights groups.
In 2009, Griffin co-founded the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which orchestrated and lead the federal court challenge and accompanying national public education campaign challenging California’s Proposition 8. AFER’s successful court case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, ultimately led to the U.S. Supreme Court restoring marriage equality to California.
During his tenure at HRC, Griffin, a native Arkansan, oversaw the 2014 launch of two transformational new initiatives to expand the reach of the organization’s work: Project One America, a campaign to dramatically expand LGBTQ equality across the Deep South through permanent campaigns in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas; and HRC Global, which has leveraged HRC’s domestic work to expand the global equality movement.
In response to the 2016 election, HRC launched HRC Rising, a $26 million investment in the largest grassroots expansion in its 38-year history to recruit volunteers, mobilize constituents, register voters and grow the organization’s grassroots army. In the 2018 midterms, HRC endorsed more than 480 pro-equality candidates nationwide and deployed 150 staffers to organize and mobilize voters in more than 70 congressional, targeted Senate and other key races across 23 states.
HRC also backed more women and people of color than in any election cycle in its history: 45 percent of HRC’s endorsees were women — including 55 percent of non-incumbent candidates — and nearly one-third were people of color. HRC made particularly significant investments in six key states: Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, with an eye toward building organization and infrastructure for 2020 and beyond. In the six states alone, all six Senate races were won and picked up seven new pro-equality members of the House.
Following the announcement, many activists and politicians took to Twitter including:
Hillary Clinton: Even in 1992, when I first met him, it was clear Chad Griffin would do a lot of good in the world. Little did I know! Grateful for his leadership at @HRC in fighting against discrimination and for marriage equality, and mobilizing millions to build a more just, equal America.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin: “During Chad Griffin’s tenure at HRC our nation has seen tremendous progress, and he has been a remarkable leader in our ongoing fight for full equality. I am grateful for our partnership and his work protecting and expanding the rights of LGBTQ Americans.”
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi: “Under Chad Griffin’s visionary leadership, the Human Rights Campaign has become a force for positive change and progress for all Americans, regardless of who you are or whom you love. From securing marriage equality to building support for the Equality Act, Chad and the HRC were invaluable allies in the fight against hatred and discrimination. We are grateful for Chad’s tireless commitment to equality, dignity and respect, and for the generations of activists and leaders he has inspired.”
Griffin’s future endeavors remain unknown. However, the Washington Blade reports that there is speculation he will possibly join a political campaign, maybe for one of the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls.