A mainstream gay rights organization in the United States, founded in 1980. Used to be called the "HRCF," or "Human Rights Campaign Fund," when they focused specifically on lobbying Washington D.C.. They have been the subject of much controversy, both because of their relatively narrow scope (often purposely excluding bisexual and transgendered issues) and because a high-level African-American staffer publically quit in the late 1990s, alleging that the atmosphere was too racist. They tend to work on only the most mainstream of gay issues, such as the right to marry and the right to be featured in sitcoms, excluding less lucrative and accepted problems like healthcare for working-class queers and employment rights for transgendered people.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is the United States' largest lesbian and gay organization. The HRC works to end discrimination, secure equal rights, and protect health and safety of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in the United States. Issues important to the HRC include partners' rights, discrimination, securing legal protection for GLBT citizens and their families and, of course, AIDS prevention and research.

Two of HRC's main activities are lobbying Congress to try to fight against legislation perceived as being contrary to the cause of gay rights and conducting an extensive education program to teach people about issues important to the GLBT community. They have lobbyists, lawyers and experts on staff. HRC also works on AIDS policy, education and health issues. Human Rights Campaign runs HRC-PAC, a political action committee which supports candidates for U.S. Congress that they feel will fight for their causes.

HRC also sponsors and co-sponsors lots of educational programs and holds functions around the country in order to raise money, salute notable people in the GLBT community and to celebrate triumphs. These events, banquets and galas have featured a tremendous number of politicians, celebrities and others who have championed the cause of equal rights. They are sponsors of the Equality Awards, which are presented annually.

They keep their membership informed about the latest legislation and the issues important to the GLBT community through their website (www.hrc.org), newsletters and mailings, and work hand-in-hand with numerous other civil rights organizations across the United States.

This Washington, D.C.-based organization was founded in 1980 as the Human Rights Campaign Fund to bring together gay and lesbian communities in order to work toward civil rights protection. With a current membership of over 500,000 people, their work continues. Predictably, the HRC has seen great opposition from groups such as The Christian Coalition, Family Research Council and Focus on the Family.

One of the important factors which sets Human Rights Campaign apart is that they were one of the first mainstream gay rights groups to actively encourage straight supporters to join. For a long time, most equal rights organizations of this sort were perceived as being exclusively for GLBT people, while the "straight but not narrow" crowd had only PFLAG and HRC. Many mainstream organizations are now following this model and including more information for families and friends of GLBT people.

There was some tension in the ranks for awhile, as some individuals claimed that the group's scope did not take bisexual and transgendered people into account. The quest to please all of their membership continues. In the late 1990s, a high-level African American staffer quit, alleging a racist environment. Despite these intrigues, HRC continues to add to its ranks, taking each challenge as it shows up.

The HRC symbol is a stylized yellow equals sign (=) on a dark blue background. Their square stickers can be seen on cars, in cubicles, on book bags and on bulletin boards across the United States.

Much of this info was culled from mailings I have received from HRC and from their wonderful website at www.hrc.org.

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