A dozen protesters gathered outside the Twin Cities Human Rights Campaign Gala Dinner and Silent Auction on Saturday to shed light on what they say are failures by the organization to support trans folks in its agenda and that “HRC’s focus on marriage rights distracts from other issues that affect queer people” such as HIV prevention, racism and sexism.


Gala event adverts say that “All proceeds support HRC efforts to end discrimination against GLBT people and families. Help end discrimination at work, in our tax system, in our military, and in our communities – and have fun while you’re at it! Learn, dine and dance to help Speak the Truth and celebrate equality!”

The Gala dinner recognized local advocates and politicians as well as some California actors. The event dress was billed as “Festive attire-all styles welcome.” But the handful of protesters dressed in festive wedding attire were thrown from the gala within minutes of arriving.


The protest was organized by Bash Back! Twin Cities:

Bash Back! Twin Cities is devastated that we cannot afford the $185-250 per person fee to attend the Human Rights Campaign “Speak The Truth” Gala Dinner and Silent Auction and congratulate rich gay celebrities who will be receiving “visibility” awards for being rich gay celebrities. While we are disappointed that we won’t be able to contribute to “LGBT Equality” by attending the Gala and hear first hand the “Truth Speaking” of the HRC, we were ecstatic to learn that we can liberate ourselves by getting married!

The protesters donned wedding attire and stormed into the dinner, read wedding vows — vows that committed to fighting things like racism, hunger and transphobia, issues that the protesters accuse HRC of neglecting.


The wedding vows read, “We, Bash Back! Twin Cities, take one another to be insurrectionary radical queerz, to resist and to liberate ourselves from all systems of domination, for glitter and for cupcakes, for unicorns and for rainbows, in genderless bathrooms and in the streets, in love and in rage, from this dance party forward.”


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Andy Birkey

Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.


  1. The protest was really two events planned by two groups. The twin cities avengers had an all inclusive dance before bash back got hitched. Not all people pictured are involved in these groups.

  2. This article gets a few important things wrong. Bash Back! did organize the wedding but multiple groups and unaffiliated individuals planned the various forms of protest at the event that day. The Twin Cities Avengers organized their own all-inclusive event outside and had signs, such as the one pictured above. Also, the quote from a leaflet may be from an Avengers leaflet, I’m not sure, but it’s not from one of the four leaflets Bash Back! produced for this event.

    Another quote was also incorrectly attributed. The statement about how we acted “to shed light on what they say are failures by the organization ‘to adequately advocate for transgender people, queer people, non-heteronormative people, and people of color,’ and that the HRC focuses too heavily on same-sex marriage at the expense of other community issues” sounds like it’s talking about Bash Back! whereas Bash Back! did not say that. That was probably something the Avengers said, or else someone speaking in an individual capacity who should not be assumed to be speaking for the group.

    Also it would have been really nice if the wedding vows had been included in the story. According to Bash Back! Twin Cities’ facebook page, they were: “We, Bash Back! Twin Cities, take one another to be insurrectionary radical queerz, to resist and to liberate ourselves from all systems of domination, for glitter and for cupcakes, for unicorns and for rainbows, in genderless bathrooms and in the streets, in love and in rage, from this dance party forward.”

    It would be really great if the editors either fixed the errors or put up some kind of note setting the record straight. As it is it grossly misrepresents both Bash Back! and the Avengers.

  3. Sorry about that. Those quotes were from the “HRC’s not for me” event page which got confused with the Bash Back! page. Too many facebook windows open at once.

  4. While I definitely understand the theoretical support of the protester’s argument against the HRC, I have to wonder if the two groups aren’t really just deploying two different strategies to reach the same result.

    A focused goal tends to be the most effective method of building change into public policy, by way of articulating a singular problem and a singular solution to remedy the issue. As precedent, consider the Reagan AIDS protests or the rhetorical devices of ACT UP and Gran Fury of the 1980s.

    The scatter-shot method, suggested by the sign pictured above, becomes diluted by its own cross references and blurry social and ethical boundaries. The HRC seems to be adopting more of a keystone method — by systematically knocking out one linchpin issue, a precedent is set for the next discursive battle.

    It’s the difference between a demanding immediate action (without a plan to enact change) versus a systematic plan to shift social opinion (at the risk of elevate some rights over others). Choosing the “pop” social justice concern may not be the most prescient in a hierarchy of need, but it’s certainly effective at ensuring relevant discourse stays at the forefront of media and political conversations.

  5. Is marriage really the most relevant discourse in the life of most LGBTQ folks? What good is the state sanctioning of one’s relationship if you still get gay bashed in the streets, fired from jobs for your gender identity, or don’t have a job with health insurance to begin with?

    The people for whom gay marriage is a relevant discourse are those who would like to stress “we are just like you”. What about those of us who are nothing like the (privileged, purporting to be universal) “You”?

    What good will gay marriage do for the actual day-to-day life of single queers?

  6. And to top off the hrc’s furtherance of the marginalization of the trans community, we also have stonewall-esque bar raids happening in 2009 and people living with hiv/aids having their health insurance revoked. If our sexualities, which in many cases aren’t supposed to be expressed publicly -but privately- expressed are still being policed, why is there such a heavy focus on marriage? The attainment of hetero privilege won’t create safe spaces for us. HRC you don’t speak for me.