Joe SolmoneseJoe Solmonese is the President of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization. I asked Joe to get personal about money and the cost of causes. He gracefully declined on the personal questions so we trimmed Ten Money Questions to Five Money Questions. I made the exception because after all it’s Joe Solmonese and anyone with a Wikipedia definition might be too famous and too busy to reveal his worst habit around finances. I’m grateful that he took the time to speak about HRC and causes that are dear to my heart.

1. As the leader of the largest civil rights organization working to achieve LGBT equality, what does money mean to you?
Money is one important tool to help secure our equal rights. If you combine it with organizing, planning, and lobbying, you can do incredible things. I’m always amazed by the generosity of the LGBT community to invest in our fight.

2. Every year, HRC releases its “State of the Workplace” report. What milestones have been reached for queer workers in America? What still needs to be achieved?
We have been able to move many companies in a positive direction. Since we started ranking companies, five years ago, we have seen a tenfold increase in the number of companies that score a 100% on our corporate scorecard. We now have 138 companies who meet all of our criteria on how to be an inclusive and fair-minded business for both their GLBT employees and their customers. And, many other companies are close to 100%, but not quite there yet.

Thanks to our Workplace Project, millions of people get up everyday and go to work knowing that they will be judged on their contributions, not their sexual orientation or gender identity. I’m very proud of our progress on this front. But, it’s still a journey. Many companies are making great efforts to improve and we are coaching and advising and encouraging them along the way. However, we still need a Federal law prohibiting workplace discrimination. And that will continue to be a priority for HRC.

3. Prior to heading the HRC, you ran EMILY’s List and helped change the face of power in America by electing more progressive Democratic women to office. Why is the women’s vote so important?
Women make up 50% of the electorate but only about 16% of the House and Senate. I think that having a female Speaker, especially a dynamic one like Nancy Pelosi, is going to help create a historic change for the better, but we still need to have more women involved politically. When women have a place at the table, the debate changes, the rhetoric changes and the priorities change. I think women can play an important role in moving our government toward a more compassionate, fair-minded, and common sense place.

4. HRC recognizes the need for people to come out, stay out and speak out about equality. If queers come out and stay out, how will this impact their bank accounts?
The GLBT community is an incredibly powerful and important part of the economy. As we raise our visibility, we will be better able to fight against unfair tax discrimination against our relationships and we will see more and more businesses marketing and catering to our community’s needs and interests. Being out is essential to creating a better economic environment for all of us.

5. At Queercents, we often post about money and matrimony. Name three reasons why marriage equality so important?
– First of all, there are an estimated 1,138 Federal benefits given to married couples. Most of those are economic benefits. Being denied the right to marry is a huge barrier to GLBT Americans’ economic security.
– I think there is a profound cultural reverence for marriage. We tend to treat married couples differently than we do couples who just live together. I think the legal right to marry can help make for stronger families and stronger communities.
– Finally, I have just two words for you: bridal registry.

More about Joe Solmonese
Joe Solmonese is the President of the Human Rights Campaign. With more than 650,000 members nationwide, the Human Rights Campaign is the nation’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. Prior to the Human Rights Campaign, Joe was chief executive officer of EMILY’s List, overseeing one of the nation’s most successful efforts to elect progressive candidates by reaching out to heartland and mainstream voters. A native of Attleboro, Mass., Joe lives in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of Boston University.

Read other Queercents interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.

By the way, while it’s top-of-mind, please donate and support the HRC. It is money well spent!