Follow the Money: Human Rights Campaign

In November of 2006, Wisconsinites went to the polls and a purple-to-blue state handily re-elected Democrats to statewide office, namely then-Governor Jim Doyle and then-Senator Herb Kohl, who took a whopping 67 percent of the popular vote. Yet, those same voters approved, through the state’s constitutional process, the passage of Referendum 1, an amendment explicitly recognizing marriage solely between one man and one woman in the state. In 2010, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, no cross section of conservative orthodoxy, upheld the constitutionality of the amendment.


As anyone following the issue knows, the United States Supreme Court last week declined to review appeals of lower court rulings that invalidated the traditional marriage referendum in Wisconsin and several other states effectively implementing a redefinition of marriage against the will of the voters in those states. States with marriage definitions affected by the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear arguments include Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah and Virginia.

The effort to circumvent the constitutional and electoral process is not limited to judicial activism in the federal court system. In the four years following the Wisconsin Supreme Court finding their state’s referendum was constitutional to today, it has been well-documented that public polling on the issue has softened dramatically.

A lot of factors contribute to this, but a large part has to include a persistent and well-organized effort to influence Americans on the issue. That campaign has significant ties to major corporations that funnel money from the very people who have voted for these definitions in the past.

Look no further than the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which spearheads the movement to overturn laws of the land through a national organization of activists and operatives. HRC is the largest LGBT advocacy group in the country with celebrity sponsors like Whoopi Goldberg and Lady Gaga.


Most Americans would be surprised to know that HRC is well-funded (their 2012 annual budget was $40 million dollars) by the deep corporate pockets of businesses like Target, Levi Strauss and Marriott. All of them are listed as corporate sponsors for HRC and their annual National Dinner, which will once again be held in Washington, DC later this month.  Interestingly enough, Target, Levi Strauss and Marriott also signed an amicus brief this past August urging the courts to invalidate the constitutional law of Wisconsin and other states.

Corporate America’s entanglement with HRC is broad and stretches across a diverse spectrum of industries. Snack and beverage producers like Coca-Cola and Hershey, financial institutions like Bank of America and Citi, and tech companies like Apple and Microsoft are all listed as “Corporate Sponsors” on HRC’s website.  Not surprisingly, many of these companies score perfect or near perfect scores in HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, the organization’s benchmarking system for ensuring corporate compliance with HRC’s agenda.

The continuous thwarting of the constitutional and legislative process by a group of activists led by the HRC and an activist judiciary that is willing to listen should concern conservative consumers.  The corporate funding of these activities should be of even more concern because it’s our money that is being used to fund these activities, and we aren’t holding our dollars accountable. It’s no accident that the bank account you open or the soft drink you’re buying is having a tremendous impact on the public perception on important issues like this.
Chris Walker is the Executive Director of 2nd Vote, a conservative shopper app. To find out more, download the free app or visit



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