I thought I should forward this letter on. Many of you may have already received it. If not, perhaps it is on its way.
To: The Gay Community
From: The Coalition
Re: Your Status
It pains me to write this letter but now I know that to do otherwise would be a failure of leadership.
For years we have fought together in a coalition effort to end discrimination in its many and varied forms.
We have stood shoulder- to -shoulder, linking arms in dangerous times.
When funding for our vital programs was threatened by right-wing legislators you joined us in defeating those bad bills. When conservatives pulled us aside and suggested we dump you all from the safe schools bill, we said "NO GAY? NO WAY." Good times. Good times.
Today, however, is a new day. Today we realize that the association we hatched together in meeting after meeting about our shared history, common enemies and principled solidarity was in fact gross negligence on our part. Political naivete. We, the members of the formerly broad-based coalition of progressive organizations, having paid close attention to the ENDA debate, have come to understand finally that sometimes one must jettison the ballast to keep the boat afloat.
Sadly, you are the weakest link. While race, gender, religion enjoy strong support in the polls, public attitudes toward even the least threatening concept of homosexuality waxes and wanes depending on circumstance and geography.
Writing that brings me no joy.
I think back fondly on old times and past battles but I know I must resist this seductive form of weakness
and realize that sentimentality may have clouded my judgment. Were we really ever in this together? Was your presence a cold calculation about what our greater numbers could bring? We may never know.
Nonetheless I choose to look back with fondness and to look forward with steely-eyed clarity about what must happen next.
You must leave the coalition.
There. I said it. I know I speak for many who harbored this persistent thought but feared they might face ridicule and derision if they ever voiced it. But this is what political discipline requires of me.
My only hope is that you not make this very difficult but very necessary decision harder on us than it already is. You may ask: Who are we to decide who stays and who goes in this coalition? You may call us hypocrites, betrayers, even collaborators.
Call us what you will but please call from the other side of the dividing line. The cost of standing together is now too high.
I'm not trying to be rude and please understand that this need not be permanent. As soon as your numbers come up (and remain there consistently) and our marketing firm assures us that the "ick factor" (their words, not mine) that attends the public conception of two men together has dissipated, we will be back again, standing with you, ready to take that victory lap together.
Rest assured we still believe in full equality even for you and we will say so publicly. Your thanks is unnecessary. It is really the least we could do.
If asked we will tell any city councilmember, commissioner, senator or representative that we would prefer they give you protections--which we really really would.
But we are duty-bound to assure them through our words or winks, or subtle nods or other gestures that they can bank on our full support even if they explicitly remove you from the bill, law, policy, ordinance or executive directive.
Goodness this is a weight off my shoulders (and I suppose onto yours) but please, please understand how painful this decision is.
As a friend (and I do hope you know that I am and always will be) let me give you some friendly advice. Calm down. Public reactions of anger toward us only reinforce the wisdom of our decision and confirm the ugly stereotypes that abound about your kind -- selfish, highly emotional and viciously irrational.
If you knew the agony we have experienced weighing all these difficult choices, I don't think you would respond to this news so cruelly. Just count your blessings that we spared you the anguish of sitting in on that conversation as we decided your fate within this coalition.
This isn't simply my take on things. We've invested in some research to guide us. In fact, from now on we will poll the general public on all issues and follow the path that that democratic process dictates, which is why we won't be helping with any of those pesky marriage or adoption ballot measures anymore. Boy are they controversial.
We recently hired a firm to conducted research carefully structured to bolster and justify our position. The results are clear:
85% of respondents said they would prefer to have an ice cold beverage in the summer rather than address issues that effect the gay community.72% said they would prefer a law that protected most students from discrimination rather than allow the bill to be held hostage by the radical homosexual lobby.75% of desperately unemployed people said they would suspend existing legal protections for gay people if it improved their chances of getting a job.
The public has spoken and from here forward we are going to listen.
So with a heavy but vindicated heart we must end our association.
But comfort yourself as you leave with the knowledge that you have my pledge, my oath to you that as soon as you are politically viable, socially acceptable and financially useful (one out of three doesn't count) we will embrace you once again. Trust us.
*Membership may vary. Loyalties may shift. Restrictions may apply.