Bil Browning

Tell Me What You Think about IE

Filed By Bil Browning | June 25, 2006 10:01 AM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
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Before anybody thinks I've taken this opportunity to go off half-cocked and hijack this website, note that Bil knows about, and endorses, this post. (And he wasn't very subtle in Friday's introduction.) :-)

So let's take a minute to talk about Indiana Equality. Use comments. What are your real thoughts on this organization? Is it good? Is it bad? Why? What have they done right? What have they done wrong? How can they do better?

Here, I'll even start the conversation.

I think that the idea of having an umbrella organization to coordinate GLBT political initiatives is a good thing, but the way IE introduced themselves to the gay community wasn't good at all, and they've failed to take steps to rectify that initial bad PR (which has, in turn, fostered their bad reputation and made it worse). Personally, I had barely heard of IE before Pepper Partin's rally at the statehouse in March, 2005. But then as soon as that rally ended, IE seemed to step up and say something that sounded, to me, like this:

"We're here, and we've been here for a long time. And we know how to fight these fights whereas you don't, so step aside and let us take care of you and your needs. And by the way, would you host a fundraiser for us?"

In my opinion, it's never a good idea for any action group to try to force a parent/child relationship with the people they claim to be working for. I also worry that IE leadership seems to place too much importance on closed-door, secret meetings with politicians. Civil rights battles are won by combining the private political sweet talk with protests, and rallies, and boycotts, and canvassing, and endorsing politicians, and criticizing politicians, and a whole lot of other things that Indiana's never seen before that IE's leadership just may not "get," for lack of a better term.

That's my opinion at this time. But as I tend to stay somewhat on the fringes of local politics, I'm sure it can be changed, in either direction, with convincing dialogue. So what do you think?


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It's not really about for or against IE -- the GLBT community in Indiana has enough enemies without fighting amongst ourselves. I'm not sure that IE is the most effective behind-the-scenes/lobbying group out there, but if you look at the elected officials they have to work with/on, Democrats as well as Republicans, it's hard to imagine anyone doing better. What's missing from IE (or someone else) is a direct-action component to demonstrate community power and build a more effective coalition. What I see as the problem faced, in general, by the politically active GLBT community is two-fold:

1. an unwillingness/inablility to see that there's a real difference between the two parties: one is willing, at least somewhat, to work with us and is open to persuasion and the other is not. That simple.

2. Our activities don't build activist capacity. For example, a group of about 40 people came from IU (the organized group - there were many more, of course) to the SJR7 rally because we all got Pepper's e-mails. Volunteers collected e-mails at the rally, but nobody every followed up. We need to be a lot more serious (myself included) about building an effective, growing advocacy network, and that means staying connected with thousands of people and empowering them to make small changes. On this front, at least, IE fails pretty convincingly.

It will cost us all money, time, sweat, and effort to build really effective GLBT advocacy in Indiana, but there's no other way to accomplish our goals.

Scott--I'll take the bait since I've been one of the most outspoken critics of IE. I say that even as I have participated in the Region 8 IE Steering Committee in the past to help pass the HRO, and I held a fundraiser for them in my home. I believe I brought the organization a lot of knowledge from my years working in the legislative process and in politics. Knowledge, however, is the worst thing to have in the minds of IE's current leadership--that makes you a threat to their being in control. They want your name for their mailing list, and they want your money to spend as they choose. But don't expect any of the self-appointed leaders to listen to you and your ideas, or God forbid, open up their meetings and election of officers and board members to the general membership so that someone else with better ideas and vision might possibly take over the organization. Once you criticize any of their leaders, they will do everything in their power to freeze you out, just as they did Pepper Partin. It has been reported that one of these IE leaders sent out an e-mail urging people to stop visiting my blog site and posting comments--a real dumb move on this person's part--but exactly the sort of reaction the organization's leaders have had to anyone they deem a threat to their existence. Nothing short of the installation of an entirely new leadership team with the full participation of the rank and file members can restore confidence in this organization.

A few weeks back, I read the post at Gary's blog about IE and the infighting going on.

I'm not all that political (at least I haven't been in the past), but I see that something has to be done, fast. Hopefully it won't be too little, too late.

As I see it, we are in the midst of a battle. Our opponents have more money, are more organized, and have the ear (and probably the bal-- well, lets not go there) of the legislature.

Here we are, in a row boat next to an aircraft carrier, and we can't even row at the same time in the same direction.

What good does it do to have power in an organization that has no pull?

Consequently, I have no idea which organization to support or who to donate to money and/or time to.

We don't really have time for this petty stuff. It doesn't do anyone who is already involved any good, and it frustrates those who aren't too much to allow them to GET involved.

is it significant that there are only three replies? either everyone is trying to not offend Bil, or we can't get anyone involved enough to care.

Good points, Paula. I would hope people aren't worried about Bil's reaction (since he did ask me to post somethin about this, himself). And ayone who knows Bil knows that he would have still been out there busting his ass during the HRO debate, the Rathskellar protest last year, and other times whether IE existed or not. It's not about him.

I am afraid that the level of participation in Indiana concerning such things is going to be a continuous uphill battle.

Bill, I definitely believe what Gary and Pepper have stated in their post, since I was one of the former HRC leaders who got attacked about using the Rathskeller for the
Joe Solmonese visit last year.

It is funny how IE's leadership convince a national organization that a place where openly gay people have gone for years, all of a sudden became hostile to our community. Also, the private phones called made to me by their leadership (Kathy Saris) threatening on every level possible to change the venue for her own private and selfish purposes.

I was one of those individuals who thought I could bring positive change to this community and expand minority participation, too. I came to an early realization that they do not want to hear the REAL TRUTH about themselves and what the community wants for the future. It is not the Straight community that we have to concern ourselves with on many issues, it is the pseudo, self appointed, egotistic, self righteous, elitist,classis and racist LGBT leaders that have been in leadership for many years that we must concern ourselves with in this community.

If you don't believe look at their organizations and their events that only use minorities as tokens to show that we some in their midst. If IE and others (PRIDE) really wanted effective and positive changes their leadership and boards would have elvolved to reflect the growing presents of minorites, women, disable and transgendered people in our community.

Also, they need to put their own money where there mouth is concerning making financial contributions or sacrifices. If the record was checked the community would soon find out that IE and the other organization rely on and uses everyone elses money and not their own. As a former national board member of HRC, you had to contribute $1200.00 or more a year to hold a board member position and it was required that members of the steering committees contributed something even if it was the $35.00 a year membership.

I am glad to say under my tenure with HRC, that we were the first to reach out to the miniority community and the transgendered. We were the first LGBT Civil Rights Group to have a booth at Black Expo in 2005 and be acknowledge by the Executive Board of Black Expo. I also along with several other African American leaders were asked by (Jackie Nytes, Vernon Cole and Duke Oliver City Council Members) to work with African American and Latino community at large in helping the HRO to pass. In those meetings with those communities I never once seen or heard IE discuss or communicate with these communities.

So Gary and Pepper are right for questioning the purpose and the results that IE supposedly have claimed as victories in the past. Also, they have to right to dissect and question the leadership of IE if they are really being ineffective in this community.

IE and other organizations must learn that they are not above reproach from being questioned about their leadership practices.

Marla R. Stevens | June 27, 2006 8:36 AM

You're not going to hear me say right now that it doesn't have problems and I appreciate reading those criticisms that are constructive -- but neither will you hear me say that it isn't doing yeoman work with too little help and isn't the convenient whipping boy for those who'd rather kvetch than act and, worse, for those so handicapped in the work and play well with others category that, despite their desires to act, they somehow can't help but be relatively ineffective and even destructive in the long run instead.

Indiana has been nothing if not the living embodiment of Del Martin's crit of gay movement politics she made when she left NOW in 1979. (They've since kissed and made up.)

IE's a coalition. If you want to affect how it behaves, join a member group (or many) and ensure that that group's representative represents your views well at IE.

Note to Morgan: As Ms. Partin went back on her obligation to share the rally's mailing list with IE and who knows what other groups that participated in organizing the rally with the understanding that the petition signatures and such would be shared, the failure to follow through falls squarely on her. It is an example of why Indiana is more likely to lose this fight than it otherwise would be.

Another is that too many will use in-fighting as an excuse to do nothing.

What you should be doing right now is talking to your neighbors, including your state legislators, assessing their views on the subject of civil marriage equality -- what they believe and why -- and engaging those who get it to actively stand with us.

What you ought to be doing is talking to state legislative candidates -- and raising money and voter support for those who will stand with you.

What you ought to be doing is sharing this data with every group that is working to try to stop the damned amendment -- including IE -- and forging alliances with others who have data of their own to share.

It's just a fact of life that, because you will share equally in the consequences of them, IE's and Ms. Partin's dwindling little cult of personality's and every other gay group working on the amendments that you love, hate, or just don't give a rat's hind end about's failures and successes are your failures and successes.

Act like it and you'll still probably lose -- but you'll lose less and get further to the day when you won't than if you don't.

Either way, nobody's gonna ride in on a white horse and save your variously swell and sorry asses. This time it's up to you.

Marla R. Stevens | June 27, 2006 9:45 AM

Mr. Washington:

You made a lousy choice putting the HRC Solomonese event at the Rathskeller given that venue's actions earlier in the year, shoot-themselves-in-the-foot prior behavior of its gay patrons notwithstanding. It's not IE's problem -- it's yours. Take responsibility for screwing up and quit whining. At the very least, you'll stop reminding people that you screwed up when they had long since gotten over it. It wasn't for Kathy's "private or selfish" reasons. It was political and hardly a personal or unilateral decision on her part.

I hope your claims of being "the first to reach out to the minority community and the transgendered" were limited to it being local HRC's first such behavior* because, if you're trying to claim that for gay organizing in Indiana as a whole, you're ignorant to the point of being offensive, slamming the hard work not just of those of majority race and ethnicity and gender identity but many transgendered and racial/ethnic minority community members as well.

Perhaps if you stopped with the Great Black Savior routine and learned a little more about what you came here to save...

Don't get me wrong. I'm not in denial about the problems in these areas. I remember Rep. Greg Porter, for instance, lecturing me about why he wasn't going to support transgender inclusion in hate crimes legislation not only because he didn't get it and didn't care to, finding the plight of the transgendered piddling and their claims to being deserving of protections underpinning the chance of achieving civil equality unseemly and without merit, but also because the gay men in his district he talked to didn't think the transgendered's rights and needs morally equivalent to theirs and didn't want "those people" muddying "their" issues and limiting their chances.

I'm sure you'll not be surprised, either, at the screaming battle against my proposal for parity of both race and sex on the board of an Indiana gay PAC, nor of the difficulty faced in preventing the disenfranchisement of the disabled in that fight when the other side wished to adjourn to the inaccessible space that was the excuse for a community center at the time.

I'm not saying that your perceptions that the -isms are alive and kicking in Hoosierland are wrong. I'm just saying that you don't know enough to make your statement about the paucity of attempts to correct them in as sweeping a fashion as you did.

In particular, I'd caution about your own ableism in your critique of IE, reminding you that not all disabilities are apparent to the uninformed. For that matter, you seem have some issues with racism in that regard as well. I shouldn't have to tell you that race isn't always apparent, either, but caution you that some of those in power positions you're critiquing for racism in allocating power are members of racial and ethnic minorities and disabled themselves who choose for their own reasons not to make an issue of it.


*If it's not local HRC's first such behavior, either, I'm not in a position to know, thank goodness. I'll thus leave to HRC to set you straight if that's warranted.

Marla, if memory serves both of us correct, it was Tom Maynard and myself who went to HRC National and demanded that they change their position on transgendered issues.

Also, it was us and has been us who have talked on your behave personally and positively when members of this community wanted to tell you the same things you suggested in this post.

You need to be careful on what you post and say without having any historical information.

Also, I have never tried to be a savior, because I come with spots, blemishes, issues, stains, trash, inconsistencies, and a lot of other issues. I have never claimed to be perfect or anyones savior. I am just one in a many who have come to do right in the community and world who are not perfect.

So on behalf of all of us please stop being so irrational and mean spirited in your comments, stay with the facts of discussion to pursue the changes that are positive and needed in this community.

Marla: I appreciate the response, as one of those people who isn't on the inside but is, instead, rather far outside Indianapolis trying to organize on the ground. Is there some specific reason that Pepper chose not to share information, after the fact? I actually didn't pay attention to the signup sheet that day, which is highly out of character, but I don't remember hearing very much about IE or other groups that had been involved in the planning. The whole event struck me as very loosely organized, actually.

Additionally, given that you say many groups were involved in organizing the event, why did Pepper/her organization ever have complete control over any lists at/after the event? Just looking for some insight into what was going on behind the scenes while the rest of us shouted and clapped and waved signs and all the standard rally-type activities.

Good lord! Careful what you ask for! Turf wars and hard feelings are dripping off the thread!

For some reason I am now very depressed about the whole state of affairs.

Is it really a good idea to have a coalition if all the members hate each other?

If ya'll can't get along, can you just fight it out in a way that *doesn't* hurt the rest of us?

Maybe it isn't as bad as it seems, afterall, I'm just on the outside looking in.

Morgan,
perhaps Scott, or someone closer to the rally planning process can clarify better on what happened with the rally/list of names but this is what I know:

There were no other organizations involved in the actual organizing of the rally. It was a group of individuals who during the process of planning the rally formed a rather short lived group named "Rock Indiana" (of which I became a part of after the rally)

From what I understand, the agreement with IE (who discouraged the rally from the beginning) was that Pepper would SHARE the list of names and not simply hand it over. In other words, she wanted IE's database of names in return for hers. IE said No way and the rest is history.

Marla,
with regards to IE doing all the "yeoman" work with too little help; myself and other members of the Greater Indianapolis Fairness Alliance beg to differ. With the exception of Bil Browning, no one was out there in the trenches getting signatures, testimonies and people involved in the HRO fight more than GIFA.

With respect to your comment: "What you ought to be doing is talking to state legislative candidates -- and raising money and voter support for those who will stand with you."
That is being done as GIFA recently held fundraisers for two GLBT friendly candidates and are in the process of planning another. We have also registered voters at Earth Day, Indy Pride and scheduled for Black Pride and Feast of the Lanterns.

Paula,
all is not lost and there is not as much in-fighting as it sometimes appears. There is definately some bad blood between several individuals but there are several of us who just want to cut past the bullshit and take action. I personally, will TRY and work with anyone I can in order to further the cause but it is challenging. I wanted to stay above the fray and keep quiet on this whole subject but I had to shed some light on what I feel is incomplete or inaccurate information. If anyone has more accurate info, please correct me, but please know that there are individuals and organizations out there who are involved and working to make a difference.

Kevin--thanks for clearing that up. After Marla's false and defamatory post during the congressional primary, people should stop putting much stock in what she says. It's pretty sad that she's now targeting Pepper with her malicious comments.

"You're not going to hear me say right now that it doesn't have problems and I appreciate reading those criticisms that are constructive -- but neither will you hear me say that it isn't doing yeoman work with too little help and isn't the convenient whipping boy for those who'd rather kvetch than act and, worse, for those so handicapped in the work and play well with others category that, despite their desires to act, they somehow can't help but be relatively ineffective and even destructive in the long run instead."

This is really tiresome. Marla, how long have you been in Iowa... two years, or three? Isn't it rather odd that you seem to know more about the Indianapolis gay community than people in it?

"IE's a coalition. If you want to affect how it behaves, join a member group (or many) and ensure that that group's representative represents your views well at IE."

This, is true in theory, but everyone knows that within IE that Kathy Sarris pulls the strings like a goddamn puppet master. Of course you'd know better than Gary Welsh, a respected and activist, attorney, and former lobbyist.

"As Ms. Partin went back on her obligation to share the rally's mailing list with IE and who knows what other groups that participated in organizing the rally with the understanding that the petition signatures and such would be shared, the failure to follow through falls squarely on her. It is an example of why Indiana is more likely to lose this fight than it otherwise would be."

This is COMPLETE and utter bullshit, as there was no such obligation. You speak of events you had NO part in, yet are the first one to talk as if you sat in on the meetings. The only person than I, to that worked closer to Pepper during the planning of Rally was Wendy, Pepper's partner. I can say that it was NEVER discussed openly that the list was to be shared. I talked with many IE folks before the Rally and NONE of them mentioned the list. Tell me, why would Pepper keep the list sharing a secret, as well as EVERYONE from IE? There is no reason for such a secret deal. The organizers, under Pepper's leadership, molded the Rally into what it was, not IE. Hell Chris Douglas came to one meeting, brought his dog, and didn't even stay for the whole meeting. He never attended another meeting one after that either. The core group of organizers (none of them were IE people)stayed on till the end. What you're spouting is the same rhetoric that IE's been spouting about the Rally since March 9, 2005. Like Republicans, they consistently tell these LIES, hoping if said enough that they'll be believed. As someone that witnessed the entire process, I know that your statement is false.

"Another is that too many will use in-fighting as an excuse to do nothing."

Do nothing? I've yelled and screamed in the past about the need for IE to show openness and accountability to the community. They've always scoffed at such need. Many good activists have been burned out or disgusted by the actions of IE, and left for greener pastures. I am one such person, but I can think of at least 2o to 3o more that they've ran out on a rail.

"What you should be doing right now is talking to your neighbors, including your state legislators, assessing their views on the subject of civil marriage equality -- what they believe and why -- and engaging those who get it to actively stand with us.
What you ought to be doing is talking to state legislative candidates -- and raising money and voter support for those who will stand with you.
What you ought to be doing is sharing this data with every group that is working to try to stop the damned amendment -- including IE -- and forging alliances with others who have data of their own to share. It's just a fact of life that, because you will share equally in the consequences of them, IE's and Ms. Partin's dwindling little cult of personality's and every other gay group working on the amendments that you love, hate, or just don't give a rat's hind end about's failures and successes are your failures and successes."

What you "ought to do" is shut the hell up about things you have no knowledge of. You fly off on second hand information and rumor, as if you were here! "The Rally" was a success because we worked our ass off, and Pepper devoted all her energy into the Rally for three months.

Cult of personality? Frankly your rhetoric on this subject sounds much closer to "One Reich, One People, One Leader" than anything Pepper has ever said. It's obvious that folks within IE hate Pepper because she proved she could do something they couldn't (Can anyone say "Our Families Count" rally?), and that's move people to action.

I've never posted here. Not a huge fan of drama. But I would like to say - now that this has been brought to my attention by more than one person in the community, that if anyone would like to ask me, personally, about the rally, the mailing list, etc., I'm happy (as always) to answer the questions if asked. I will not, however, respond on this blog to immature, jealousy-based comments that come from "people" like Marla Stevens.

Morgan asked the question:

"Additionally, given that you say many groups were involved in organizing the event, why did Pepper/her organization ever have complete control over any lists at/after the event?"

Because we were the only people who created sign up sheets, stood around collecting the signatures, bothered to do any cleaning up after the rally.

Marti is correct; as far as I was involved (which was not nearly as the 24/7 that Marti, Pepper, Wendi and several others put in) I don't recall any agreement to hand over the list of collected signatures. There were some requests from IE to "share" the lists of names, but when it came to the rally, IE wasn't interesting in sharing any information about their lists, and they didn't bother to try to gather names at the rally.

I think it's highly ironic that Marla's talking up the free sharing of info -- I recall a lecture back in 1994 (Stonewall organizing) from her about the importance of keeping the lists of names secret from other GLBT organizations because they were the way to generate money for an organization. Every name is a potential financial donor. That's why IE wanted Rock Indiana's names... and why they won't share their own in return.

In the interest of keeping this thread from becoming 500 pages of speculation and because the folks out here who seem to want to focus on me have not yet sent me an e-mail asking me what, in fact, happened with the distribution list collected at the rally, I will summarize here:

At the moment I decided to collect names at the rally, I OFFERED to share the list with likeminded organizations. That is, all organizations who are working for the interest of the GLBT community. This would have included IE at the moment I made the offer to share. Though I will admit that quite a few red flags had presented themselves regarding IE's nefarious ways.

Soon after the rally, IE worked very hard at keeping me from organizing. What most of you don't see are the e-mails received - including one of extortion sent to me by John Clower; the directive to some in the community to "remove Pepper" from GLBT activism, etc., etc. Obviously, as the person who put together the distribution list at the rally, I have a fiduciary responsibility to make certain the list does not fall into unsavory hands. And I found IE to be quite unsavory. So despite the extortion and everything else some folks representing IE did, I refused to hand over the list and feel very comfortable that I retracted my initial offer to share it with IE. (IAN, in conjunction with IE attempted to obtain the list, but I am sorry to say that I felt - and still feel - that IAN, in their cohesive relationship with IE, proved to be willing to go along with IE's nefarious manueverings.)

For everyone's information, I have given the list to two other organizations in Indiana who have proven that they work ethically and responsibly. Sorry folks. My ethics ultimately trump naive verbal promises.

Morgan, as to your comment regarding how well the rally was put together, your sentiments seem to fall in the minority category. I am quite proud of the effort and remain humbled by those who worked hard to pull it together. I made some mistakes, but I never claimed to be a professional protest organizer - nor did I set out to create an organization. I was pissed off and wanted to protest. That's the long and the short of it. I've made some enemies and I've made some friends. But in the end we made history in Indiana that day and that fact will endure.

Marla R. Stevens | June 28, 2006 3:13 AM

1. False, Gary? Prove it. If it isn't, it cannot, by definition, be defamatory.

2. Steph, you're engaging in illogic regarding my statement regarding mailing lists being commodities with fiscal value. As IE did, indeed, share in the work with an understanding that the list would be shared, it was an example of the sort of trade nature of them I was describing, albeit a breached one.

IE could not, given the rules regarding its mailing list, turn it over to Ms. Partin's group. However, they did offer to publicize the event through their list and other means -- which they did even after suffering Ms. Partin's many now-you're-in-now-you're-not temper tantrums -- because they actively wanted the event to succeed. It is not their fault that Ms. Partin wasn't and still isn't savvy enough to understand the nuances of the many currents operating at the time and misunderstood initial reticence and differing roles to play as lack of desire for the event's success.

Besides, there is nothing about a mailing list's being a fiscally valuable commodity that prevents a group from donating it in pursuit of a shared goal. If Ms. Partin really was interested in work on the shared goal more than in the petty politics of personal control, she'd have made the list available to IE.

3. Pepper et al are engaging in the same revisionist history she engaged in in the post-rally months, coterie following along in similar fashion.

I made my comment regarding the mailing list purely for clarification purposes. I can't begin to explain the behaviors of Partin -- although, if you read her second response here, you'll notice evidence of petty game playing antithetical to any claims of being ethical -- nor do I care to in the future.

All I will say is what is not news to anyone not wholely tied to one side or other of that old nonsense: that she was so naive that she had no idea of the amount of much needed help she was getting at the time.

Beyond that, it must be obvious to all that Ms. Partin and I don't get along, that I think her pathologically dangerous to the health of LGBT organizing in Indiana, and that I'd rather never think of her again. I assume the feeling is mutual. I thus consider continuing the harangue a dull waste of time.

Nothing in this should be construed to mean that Ms. Partin and crew don't have much to be proud of in their effort -- and much to learn as well.

4. Mr. Washington: Bully for you and Mr. Maynard for joining the long line of Indy folks who have tried to talk some sense into HRC about their policies regarding the transgendered (and the idiocy that is ENDA and predatory fundraising and a host of other things) over the years.

It seems with some new leadership their position is softening. May it continue to change for the better.

"I was one of those individuals who thought I could bring positive change to this community and expand minority participation, too." seemed to be a GBH statement. I'll take you at your word that that was not your intent.

5. Kevin, I never said that IE was doing "all" the yeoman work nor did I mean to. I simply said that they were doing yeoman work. That does not preclude the reality that others are, too.

6. I am always thrilled to hear of the wonderful positive actions in my beloved Indiana. The essence of my first response was that, instead of putting up invitations to invective and less positive things such as the original post to which we have all responded, people ought to be about the business of getting the much needed work done.

As is my habit, I suggested some practical ways to do that. I did not believe for one second that there weren't already people doing some of that, knowing that it was, indeed, being done by some but not at the fever pitch necessary to give you a hope of a chance. Why some have gotten defensive about it I have no clue. I would have thought that, if they understood so well the need to do it, that they would appreciate another exhortation to do so that might have garnered them some additional help toward the shared goal.

7. It is not necessary to physically reside in Indiana to care about its LGBT community's welfare nor to work diligently on its behalf. Frankly, you'll need all the help you can get no matter how superb your work is in-state. Trying to make residency a requirement for activism on your behalf is a fool's pursuit.

I can't resist . . . .
Marla, I'm overwhelmed and flattered by your obsession over me. I am taken, but even if I weren't I'm afraid you're not my type. Now that you realize this, I hope you can move on so that you can do better things with your self-righteous pretention. If only you had been able to channel this kind of energy into being making strides in the Indiana GLBT community. Just think. That little ol' rally that was put together at a grassroots level and NOT by IE (nor did IE assist in any sort of extraordinary way)
might not have been necessary. I do hope you find something to do in Iowa (knitting, exercising or even activism). Thanks again for all of your obsessive thoughts.


Marla R. Stevens | June 28, 2006 8:59 AM

Of course you can't resist, Pepper. It's a symptom. Get help.

Marla, you need to stop making references about other people's psychological states.

I've heard you do this recent a number of times, and it's highly inappropriate for anyone to do.

There are some people in our community who do have mental disorders who are being treated for them, and they deserve compassion. Bashing people with mental health references is disrespectful to people suffering from real medical conditions.

And especially for you -- given that you took someone to task severely for making these same times of references.

So, any answers to the IE/Rock Indiana spat that don't involve someone diagnosing someone, Dr. Frist-style, from another state? It's stooping mighty low when one's answer to the question, "Why didn't Pepper share the list?" is to question her mental health. Steph is absolutely right, that sort of statement (and thought) is absolutely inappropriate, for this and every other forum. It's hate speech, plain and simple, and as such ought to be rejected by everyone involved in the struggle against oppression.

I can't resist twisting a quotation: "Pathologically dangerous, Marla? Prove it." Bet you can't. It's always easier to make ad hominem attacks on critics than to answer criticism.

Is there anyone who can offer a reasonable defense of IE's actions without resorting to inappropriate, offensive attacks on a member of our community?

Pepper: By loosely organized I don't mean to say that the rally was poorly planned at all. I don't think more comprehensive organizing was necessary for the rally, nor would it have been beneficial. Indeed, one of the strengths of the rally was that it expressed the many viewpoints from within the GLBT community as well as from allies and allowed the many groups and individuals there to work as a network rather than a hierarchy.

In general, I don't (and probably never will) know why the lists effectively disappeared from Indiana activism. I, at least, have never recieved e-mail from any group, even the two with which Pepper claims (I can't evaluate that claim either) to have shared the list. The opportunity that rally presented to build activist capacity is, regardless of the reason, now in the past. It's been over a year. Thankfully, we have an election coming up during which I hope the GLBT community can reorganize to work towards our common goals. We do all want to stop the amendment, no?

Marla R. Stevens | June 28, 2006 2:45 PM

People's pathologies, particularly when they are untreated, can have a direct effect on the work and, when they do, they're as fair game as anything else that directly affects it.

Morgan -- As for proving it, such things are subjective within the bounds of the DSM criteria. I refer you to it and the growing wealth of websites that explain such things in lay terms (hoping for your sake that you will never have the experiences of the flagrant demonstration of it that I have been subjected to) to help you in that task.

Otherwise, as the human subject is as distasteful to me as the subject of my assessment of her is to you and, having done my duty to give fair warning, I'd rather move on to something productive as, yes, I hope that we all want to stop the damned amendment. I know I do.

As for your desire to go back to time wasting, community destroying, trashing and defending one of the groups trying to do that work, Steph, as no one could possibly satisfy you or your cabal in this matter, why bother?

As people have said to you so often in the past, if you don't like how someone else is doing the work, go do it better yourself. In other words, put up of shut up -- or better, put up and shut up. letting the work speak for itself.

Apparently my work isn't speaking loudly enough, considering I've done thousands of hours of GLBT volunteer work in the past two years. Sigh. But I guess I have to provide a resume of my work every time I express an opinion, or it isn't valid in the World According to Marla. Not that she has to provide similar evidence.

In point of fact, the only person who has ever told me "do it better yourself" has been you. Everyone else is in a position to see the work I've done.

Marla R. Stevens | June 29, 2006 1:19 AM

Then why the constant need to kvetch and cut down others' work?

Here are some suggestions for this thread:

"I know you are, but what am I?"
"I'm rubber and your glue, whatever you say bounces of me and sticks to you"

Hopefully a few of you get the picture.

Personally, I think it would be enough for anyone to see something they have done *actually* work. Sure it would be aggravating to have someone else take credit for it, but, at the end of the day, the people who really matter know the story.

You know what you have done, and they know what they have "stolen".

Any attempt to convince the rest of us comes across as petty backbiting and a glaring reminder of what Junior High (I'm being generous here) was all about.

Here is the deal. There aren't just one set of GLBT people who all think, act, feel the same way. There is no one "strategy" that we can all agree on.

Just as importantly, there is no one set of people we are trying to convince. So the Word is upset about Jesus MCC. I'm sure the audience that Jesus MCC is speaking to uses a completely different "language" be it words, values, whatever, than the audience the Word is speaking to. So IE wants to work the politicians. Politicians aren't interested in people who are "pissed off and want to protest", but that does appeal to someone, or maybe even many (particularly the TV types).

As long as all the strategies we employ don't torpedo each other (or, more importantly - drive good people away from the fight), WHO REALLY CARES which one is "better"?

This thread started with a very valid question, "What can be done to make IE better?". There were a few actual answers, the rest turned into a personal pi$$ing match between Marla and I've lost count of how many people.

Back to the original question. It is obvious to me, again from the outside looking in, that IE needs to somehow monitor the water for the torpedos fired at our own boats, both from the external forces, and, more importantly and disgustingly, from our own as well. IE also needs to figure out which approaches are working, which aren't, and then encourage the ones that are, and help the ones that aren't figure out a new angle to attack from.

IE also needs to recognize that the rank and file members seem to have a problem with what is perceived as a "veil of secrecy" and do something about that too.

I use IE as the name of the group to coordinate all of that. I don't necessarily mean it *has* to be IE, but it appears they are already in a position to do that. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees that it should be that way.

Let's keep focus! United we stand, and all that jazz.

Go back to the top of this thread and read down -- Marla started the personal attacks, which has been the case the last dozen or so times these arguments come up.

So Marla, why the constant need to kvetch and cut down other's work?

And that's the last thing I have to say about it -- Bilerico just went into my delete can.

Marla R. Stevens | June 29, 2006 8:42 AM

I'm not as trusting about the intent of the thread, which was started by someone who does not make his antipathy towards IE a secret. I see it as an invitation to do bitching which ought to be done directly with any IE member groups you belong to. More than that in this climate functions destructively, which some posters here have made no bones about their intent to have happen. Others have been constructive but the whole thing, phrased in terms of a single organization and begging fault-finding, reeks.

I'm not a fan of everything IE's done or how they're constructed and so on. I've given them lots of constructive crit over time as well as as much support as I can. I'm just sick and tired of the same people having at them over and over again in the same ways that the same people have trashed the same people's groups over the years.

But there's nothing new under the sun and this is no exception. Every group of freedom fighters I've ever studied have engaged in infighting over the years. Why should we be any different?

The IE people have stopped engaging with these perpetual bitchers because it's not a productive dialogue and they have work to do. They're not freezing these people out as much as these people have made themselves unwelcome.

No doubt the IE folks're monitoring things. The board's owners are IE people, after all, so they will if no one else can stomach it. I know that there are frequent discussions between people of varying ideas within IE about how it should conduct its business. Nothing anyone has said has gone unnoticed. But the broken record stuff just gets old.

Paula's observation that one size does not fit all in organizing is a fine one. My only caveat would be not to turn it around and try to pigeonhole people or groups into just one sort of activity. That robs you of potential extra value from all sorts of people as most can wear a number of hats.

Some secrecy is necessary. Sorry about that. That doesn't mean that input can't and doesn't happen. It just means that truly strategically sensitive information gets shared on a need to know basis.

I'm always suspicious of that getting out of hand and question anything marked FYEO that doesn't need to be. Information is power and power grows best when it's shared. It's that simple. I encourage anyone in a position see such material to do do the same. Anyway, it's really hard to keep secrets in this community so it's almost self-policing.

Anyway thanks, Paula, whether we stand united or just plain stand.

Marla R. Stevens | June 29, 2006 8:59 AM

Trusting that telegraph and telequeen are fully functional:

Steph -- perhaps if you and your friends had spent less time indulging in your favorite pastime here, you'd have gotten your activism asses in gear to deal with the fact that your state has been invaded by Exodus creeps and not left it to people from CHICAGO to do your protesting for you.

First, thanks Paula.

Second, I re-read my original post. I'm not the kind of person to mince words. I don't operate with ulterior motives. If I intended something other than what I was suggesting, I would have said it outright.

I believe that successful people, organizations, and societies should be able to look to the past, recognize mistakes and victories, learn from both, and move one.

I said, and I stand by my words, that at this time, I'm not a fan of IE. But that could change. It still could, if there was any chance that the greater community could find a place to speak where the usual suspects wouldn't pull their usual antics.

Marla R. Stevens | June 29, 2006 9:05 AM

Trusting that telegraph and telequeen are still fully functional, thus that Miss Take Her Cookies And Go Home will hear about this practically before I hit the Post key:

Steph -- perhaps if you and your friends had spent less time indulging in your favorite pastime here, you'd have gotten your activism asses in gear to deal with the fact that your state has been invaded by Exodus creeps and not left it to people from CHICAGO to do your protesting for you.

Paula,
you are correct and please don't give up the fight. There is room for every kind of organization out there, whether its in your face activism, political lobbying, or grass roots campaigning, we can all find the method and organization that best fits us.

I've never been a big fan of IE but I honestly wish them no ill will. My hope for them is that they use the large donation they've been given, very, very wisely. I don't have to like or agree with everyone but I will work with them to achieve the same goal.

I'm going to step in here. I've tried to stay out of this since it's Scott's post and thread of comments, but I just feel something needs to be done... Scott is aware of my actions (we've talked about this already) and is fine with my decision.

Scott's original post asked for constructive criticism and positive suggestions on how IE can improve. There's nothing wrong with asking the question - everyone and every organization can improve themselves and should work hard at lifting others up instead of tearing others down.

However, this is not what's happened here - not at all. Instead, it's just been the usual personal attacks and lies by a handful of malcontents and naysayers. As someone who's been deeply involved in a lot of the issues talked about here, I can state with authority that several of the "facts" presented by various commentors are simply untrue. Some are a little off (which could be someone's personal viewpoint of how something went down) but others are just outright lies.

However, what really disgusts me is how low some of the commentors have stooped to try to prove their points. On bilerico.com we don't call each other names, degrade anyone's personal disabilities, or spread vicious lies and distortions for our own glory and ego. This thread is closed.