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'An outrage,' Dustin Lance Black says about plan to turn Harvey Milk's camera store into HRC gift shop

On Monday, Human Rights Campaign announced it would move its San Francisco Action Center and store to "the historic home of civil rights legend Harvey Milk."

“It is Harvey Milk’s vision of hope that continues to inspire the work that we do at the Human Rights Campaign,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “We are the beneficiaries of his groundbreaking activism and are honored to be a part of the future that he envisioned.”

Not everyone is happy with this move. Today, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black -- who won an Oscar for the film Milk -- called the HRC plan "an outrage."

Here's a news release from Black and the Log Cabin Republicans of San Francisco:

Log Cabin Republicans of San Francisco and ‘Milk’ Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black React to HRC’s Plan to Turn Harvey Milk’s Camera Shop into a Gift Shop

SAN FRANCISCO – December 8, 2010 – The Log Cabin Republicans of San Francisco, the leading group for LGBT Republicans in the Bay Area, released the following statement in regards to the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) plan to convert the space that was formerly assassinated San Francisco Supervisor and leading gay rights advocate Harvey Milk’s camera shop on Castro Street into a gift shop selling HRC branded items.

“HRC has proven time and again that its main goal is not to advance rights for LGBT Americans but to raise funds amongst the LGBT community for Democratic candidates,” stated LCRSF president Dan Brown. “Harvey Milk supported both Republican and Democratic candidates throughout his life, and continually sought to reach consensus on both sides of the aisle for the benefit of us all. He tried to get everyone involved in fighting for their rights, whether by volunteering, lobbying, protesting, running for office, talking to friends, coworkers and family, and yes, even fundraising. If HRC, as the largest LGBT rights organization by funding, took a page from Harvey’s book rather than relying on empty promises from elected officials that rarely materialize, then we would be much closer to full equality than we currently are.”

Oscar-winning screenwriter of ‘Milk’ and LGBT rights campaigner Dustin Lance Black also commented: “Harvey Milk spent the last years of his life fighting not only for rights for gays and lesbians across the nation, but also against the idea that the only way to achieve those rights is to lobby the government and financially support so-called ‘straight allies’. Harvey believed the best way to secure our rights was through grassroots action, coalition building and the election of LGBT people to office at all levels of government. He encouraged people to come out of the closet and be vocal about who they were and why they deserved full equality, not partial equality or crumbs. For the HRC leadership, which still advocates a piecemeal, wait-and-see approach to try and co-opt and profit from Harvey’s legacy is an outrage.”

Although not a member of Log Cabin, Dustin Lance Black teamed with the organization's Republicans Against 8 campaign in 2008 to produce an award-winning video campaign putting the face on gay and lesbian Californians.

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About Log Cabin Republicans

Log Cabin Republicans promote legislation to provide basic fairness for gay and lesbian Americans and works to build a more inclusive GOP. The 30-year old organization has state and local chapters nationwide, a full-time office in Washington, DC, a federal political action committee and state political action committees.


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Though the Log Cabin Republicans of SF make a valid point, it seems as though they themselves are going against what Harvey Milk supported, which is the idea that he "continually sought to reach consensus on both sides of the aisle for the benefit of us all". The LCR should meet the HRC half way and somehow find a solution that will satisfy the HRC and those wanting to respect the history of Harvey Milk. There has to be a way to integrate HRC (which Harvey Milk fought for until his death) without exploiting the late politician. Then again, this camera store situation isn't at the top of the HRC's list of fights to be won.

People get so outraged about the actions of nonprofits, and that puzzles me. Here this individual and organization are servicing a press release against a group which is at very least trying to do good for LGBT individuals in its own way (lobbying, advocacy campaigns, coalition-building for certain causes, etc.) and the LCR and this screenwriter are upset.

Isn't there an anti-LGBT group more worthy of a negative press release than another pro-LGBT group which wants equality? Why fight someone with your same ideology but different methods when you can instead continue fighting those with opposing ideology?

It's okay to disagree, but trying to get press on this is basically shooting the movement in the foot.

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