Human Rights Campaign

HRC President Cheryl Jacques’ Open Letter to the Community
Nov. 4, 2004

For better and for worse, these past few days have been remarkable for the Human Rights Campaign.

For more than a year, thousands of HRC staff, board members, volunteers and members from across America poured our hearts and souls into defeating George W. Bush and electing fair-minded candidates to office.

We put countless hours into community events, press conferences, fundraisers in scores of cities, hundreds of miles of precinct walking, endless lobby visits in Congress and statehouses nationwide and organizing of all sorts, not to mention the millions of dollars we invested for victory on Nov. 2.

Now in the aftermath, we may feel anger, defeat and, perhaps, even a sense of failure.

I have one message: not a second of the millions of hours of work we’ve done was in vain. We lost a battle but we are winning the war.

GLBT equality is the issue of our times. Our extraordinary new place in history means we will win exhilarating victories but we must be prepared for heart-breaking defeats.

History teaches us to be optimistic and I am confident of our success because I know the American people are the greatest people in the world. No one in the White House or in Congress can reverse the fair-minded spirit of the American people.

On Tuesday, exit polls showed that 60 percent of all voters said they support some sort of legal recognition for same-sex couples and their families.

Today, we must get our wisdom and inspiration from our brothers and sisters who have come before us — those who have been marginalized and oppressed but have persevered and overcome adversity.

Imagine the kind of pain African-Americans and fair-minded allies felt when a 1963 Alabama governor built a successful political foundation on “Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow and Segregation Forever.”

Remember Jewish Americans who, in the mid-20th century, in cities like New York, Miami and Detroit, were legally prohibited from purchasing homes.

And remember when women, until as recently as 1975, in some parts of our country, could not serve on juries because “no man can understand a woman’s reasoning or present facts to her which she’ll understand.”

Today we begin to build upon the great work of HRC:

Tomorrow, we will find the best in ourselves to overcome the next great challenges. We will fight on because we are on the side of the best American values and the values that American people continue to move towards in numbers greater than ever before.

Many thanks,