Alex Blaze

How are we going to learn our lessons from the Prop 8 campaign?

Filed By Alex Blaze | December 06, 2008 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: boi from troy, California, Christian beliefs, Dana Rudolph, Florida, gay marriage, Greta Christina, HRC, irene monroe, LGBT, lgbt bloggers, marriage, marriage equality, Marty Rouse, Massachusetts, Mormon, movement, panel, Prop. 8, referendums, religion, same-sex marriage, Serena Freewomyn

I'm sitting a panel discussion here on Proposition 8. It includes:

  • Marty Rouse of HRC
  • Tobias Packer of Equality Florida
  • Josh Cohen of Bloggers Against 8
  • George Simpson of Equality California
  • Megan Kinninger of Freedom to Marry
  • Joe Sudby of AmericaBlog (moderator)

There's a lot of talk here about what went wrong in the campaign, and I have summaries of various people's statements after the jump.

But I did want to highlight a quotation from Marty Rouse of the HRC. When Joe Sudby asked each person on the panel what lesson they learned, Rouse said that since he's been working in politics for 20 years, so "There aren't many lessons for me to learn."

People are pointing out various aspects of the campaign that could have been improved, but I didn't get in my question (can't raise my hand and type at the same time), which was about the underlying problem: accountability. We're a fucking smart and creative community, but what good do all the ideas in the world do if they're not used? What's the point of criticism if the people high up aren't going to listen?

That's the baseline here, and the mentality that there's nothing to learn from Prop 8 (duh, because we won in California by a landslide) is what's going to hamper our movement the most. There were some great comments, and they're after the jump.

Most of the panelists mentioned starting earlier in terms of fundraising. Since the California people on the panel were all involved in the campaign in some way, the blame went to "all of us in the community" who weren't invested enough in this movement.

The more interesting comments came from the veritable brain trust in the audience, and focused mostly on messaging.

The Rev Irene Monroe discussed how the ads weren't set up to reach a Christian audience. They played a few of the ads here, and quite a few people laughed and applauded (yours truly doesn't find that sort of thing funny or worth cheering on), but the LGBT activist community, the leadership that saw those ads and thought they were great, are a specific group of people who don't represent all voters. The biggest difference is their inability to reach people of faith, specifically Christians.

She also warned against modeling activism off Massachusetts, a non-diverse, secular state. It's just not a model for the entire country.

Scott of Boi from Troy asked about the closetedness of the campaign. Marty Rouse of the HRC said that the ads were focus-group tested, they did well, and the consultant that was hired for those ads was great on paper when they hired him (he had worked on several other successful campaigns in California).

Lane Hudson then called Marty out for his comment on not having lessons to learn and had a few ideas for what the ads could have talked about (the economy, Obama). Marty Rouse responded defensively that those ideas didn't test well.

But what was interesting is how he went off on how this is really all the community's fault as a whole for not being invested enough from the beginning. As he put it, "We all bear responsibility for [this loss]." That's true, but that's clearly not the point; he's just trying to pass blame on to someone outside of the campaign. The lack of investment from the community came from somewhere, and it's supposed to be (in a normal movement) incumbent on community leaders to impress upon their constituents why something is important and what they need those people to do.

The model of involvement that the LGBT community has used on these propositions up to this point (pay and go away), which has lost in every single state where's there's been a referendum, is the fundamental problem with community investment. People want to do and they want to speak and they want to effect change and they wan to be heard. Yes, they can and should open up their wallets if they believe in a cause, but that comes after they're already invested in that cause.

He also said that HRC was in a "lose/lose situation" - they can't take over the campaign because they'll be criticized, but they can't do too little or they'll be criticized. Maybe they could check into why they're always being criticized by the community for anything they do, no matter how innocuous (start by reading the paragraph just one up from this one, HRC people).

Serena Freewomyn had the next question, and she went back to the Courage Campaign commercial about Mormons breaking into a lesbian married couple's house and tearing up their marriage license. It got a lot of laughs in this room (we can't actually measure its effectiveness since that ad debuted the day of the election), but Serena called that ad "embarrassing."

She said that we can't underestimate Mormons' love of door-knocking - they go on a 2-year mission where they door-knock and then think back to how that was the best time of their lives. More importantly, though, was that the queers can't just go and make fun of the religion of a significant group of voters. There are people within the LDS church who are progressive and gay-friendly and potential allies that could be helping us out, but when we set up a "gays vs. Mormons" game we drive them back to their religion.

Also, queer Mormons are forced to choose which side they want to be on, and they're not likely to choose us when we're laughing at an integral part of their identity and their community. As she said, "They're going to pick their church over us."

Dana Rudolph of Mombian pointed out that our response to the "teaching about marriage in schools" argument was tepid and ineffective. When the campaign said "No, it won't be taught there," they conceded that there was something wrong with it being taught in schools. Josh Cohen responded that it even looked dishonest, because even though it won't be taught directly in the schools, there's enough in the state curriculum about teaching sex-ed and about families and about California law that the Yes campaign was able to win that skirmish.

Greta Christina pointed out that we should have, in the messaging, done more on an emotional level. I love her site because she's so logical, and here she was logical enough to point out the need, for many voters, to have an emotional reason to vote no, instead of abstract claims to equality and legal responses to the Yes campaign's arguments.

She also asked us to do more to tap into the growing secular movement.

*****

These are some great ideas, at least for discussion, and it's definitely not a complete list of everything that went wrong. What is important is that we're having this discussion, not simply a group of people who were directly involved asking themselves what went wrong. Since they lost, they obviously could use some fresh thoughts and perspectives.

But they're going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming. The people who were on this panel were probably among the most-willing of the campaign's leaders to engage the grassroots (I mean, they're here), and even here there was a sense of "Who are you to criticize us?" And that's the fundamental problem - this discussion needs to be happening among queers and allies all over the country, not in a little closed-door discussion among the people who've lost around 30 of these things.

But the internet is changing that, and this campaign has changed that. We're seeing increased participation and discussion all over the country, with spontaneous demonstrations and blog conversations and whatnot. We're getting people involved who weren't previously involved and we should be encouraging that.

I understand that it's difficult for some of the people who've invested so much time and energy in the campaign to have to listen to all these postmortems. I've even heard a few people call it "disrespectful" to dissect this campaign here, on the internet, where anyone can look at it.

But how many people have to be excluded before this discussion is properly respectful? How many people's ideas have to be turned away before we're sure we're not going to hurt people's feelings? How many times to we have to lose these things before we get a clue and take advantage of our community's most valuable and abundant resources: diversity, intelligence, and creativity?

We should be winning these things at this point. We have the money, we have the experience, and we have a growing number of Americans on our side. But, as someone pointed out behind me while I was writing this post (I didn't catch his name), it took this failure to start this conversation. We needed something to send a jolt through the community and start to move away from this consultant/fundraising/insiders-know-everything model of organization.

So maybe this loss was, in a strange way, a good thing for those people working towards same-sex marriage.

Update: Gregory Rae emailed me this:

I only disagree with one point: you claim that the California people on the panel were all involved with the campaign, and were blaming people outside the campaign for not getting involved early enough. That's a bit misleading: I think it was just Marty Rouse who made this point. And I don't see how the panelists were all that qualified to make judgments here: they weren't involved in the campaign until a month before the election (I'm unsure when George got involved with campaign activities, but I think it was around then.)

About the Rouse comment, it was made by another person on the panel as well, before him, but I don't remember whom. I don't know their levels of involvement in the campaign. I assumed that because they were on the panel to discuss the campaign that they were all heavily involved.

I have no information on their level of involvement at this time.


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Tha Mormon No on 8 commoercial wasn't humorous, and I don't see how anyone who watched it could interpret it that way.

It was in a nutshell describing what The Church spent millions of dollars to do, take avay the existing civil rights of fellow citizens.

If they'd run variations of that commercial targeted to African-American, Latino/a, and Asian-Pacific islander communities we may be talking about a different result.

I really enjoyed the points that both Rev. Irene Monroe and Serena Freewomyn brought up. Hats off.

Generally I think the discussion was a good one. Great to hear all points of view from across the board.

The blame game is getting us nowhere. Yes, let's better those mistakes in the future. But we lost. It's over and let's push onward.

Yes, we must push forward and not forget about the grassroots efforts that helped place Obama in the White House.

While we fight for 100% marriage equality, it is also important to fight for other rights that are still not afforded to us. While we wait for the repeal of DOMA and our federal rights,

please vote and support same sex binational couples HERE

The top rated ideas will be presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009.

I think Greta Christina's comment about how we should have done more on an emotional level is spot on.

Fighting for "rights" is so cerebral. What most people fail to understand is WHY we want these 1,138 rights - Because cruel suffering happens when those 1,138 rights are NOT in place!

I have been very frustrated with the "Give or Go Away" approach, as someone who CANNOT donate a single penny to purchase my civil right to civil marriage, nor can I get out of the house and fight for these rights outside of my home. All I can do is share the stories of the suffering that are usually overlooked in this "debate" on my blog, and continue leading people to both legal and "disobedient" forms of tax protest. Words are ALL I have; I cannot write a check for rights, but still wonder if I would go that route IF I had the money to do so. It stinks no matter which deodorant we apply.


Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | December 6, 2008 6:12 PM

I understand and support you telling your story and doing what you can to engage and educate. I imagine that, if there had been a way for you to do more direct work for the campaign from home, you'd have done that, too.

I remember well, for instance, getting the help of AIDS patients in an HIV-dominant nursing home in Indianapolis, making letter-writing kits for Pride, making themed craft lapel decorations for legislators to show their support for our bills and to give to small donors as favors, etc. They helped in the job of building momentum and the work they did helped them, too, according to their caregivers.

But, as potential large donors to both the campaigns in Florida and California, we'd have been grateful just to get the help we needed from the two main organizations -- No on 8 and Florida Red and Blue -- to donate early in California and at all in Florida. Despite repeated requests, we never got it from either organization and our money went instead to other groups working to defeat the amendments in those states.

Chris Daley | December 6, 2008 9:46 PM

Marla -

if you feel comfortable, can you elaborate a bit? I was able to make contribtion as early as June and I had some questions that were fairly promptly answered by the campaign staff at the time.

What help did you need that you didn't get?

Chris

I agree with you also, John, that we need to work on a more emotional level. That is really what is going to have the most affect on people. Someone at the Summit said that we need to create the story of OUR struggle and to define what we really mean when we throw aroud words like "civil rights" and "marriage". What do those words really mean to the LGBT community? I think we need to personalize our stories more so that people who are against same-sex marriage or are homophobic will see that we are people just like them.

While I agree that the 'blame game' is not always productive, in the case of the No On Prop 8 campaign, enough problems occurred that reflect similar problems within mainstream LGBT groups in general.

Marty Rouse's comment in particular, "There aren't many lessons for me to learn[,]" I find especially illuminating. Considering how much has changed in the last 20 years because of the internet and communications technologies and politics in general, to imply one has learned all they need to is incredibly ignorant.

It's no wonder a group like HRC is out of touch with our community and, in some cases, is lacking the successes and momentum that non-mainstream groups (especially grassroots organizations and movements) experience.

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | December 6, 2008 5:21 PM

Precisely! Reading Rouse's words, I couldn't help but envision Shrub in the post-Katrina debate where he couldn't come up with anything he'd done wrong.

The arrogance of the comment alone reflects the arrogance that marked and underpinned the organizational failures that, combined, tanked the Prop. 8 battle on our end. And, as if that was not enough, the grossly insensitive lack of awareness or concern or both about the growing opinion that his organization is incompetent and out of touch is appallingly both incompetent and out of touch.

HRC ....... soooooooooo last decade!

I earned a BA in political science in the early 80s, albeit more as a specialist in international relations, and I would not want to even compare what I was taught of politics to the world of politics, today. The changes in political campaigning techniques even in the past 15 years have simply been amazing - the use of research, data farming, graphic work, advertising styles and techniques, the internet, etc. Any of us who've had our heads out of the groundhog hole the last few years knows this.

Given that, it's amazing that Marty Rouse would say such an asinine thing. But, that's HRC for you.

For the record, I didn't find the "mormon" ad funny at all. Rather, I found that it succinctly made the point of exactly what the Yes forces wanted to achieve. If they didn't want to attack Mormons specifically, they could have substituted evangelicals and Catholics, or created the "California Marriage Police" to do the same as done in that commercial.

Thanks much for this info on the panel.

Here in SF, where we actually suffered through the closeted No on 8 disaster, we're happy Rouse of HRC has appeared on a NYC panel and now this DC panel to talk about his work for us CA gays. Too bad he can't find his way back to CA and put on an HRC town hall meeting in the state where we lost.

I suppose Rouse would die if he had to not only organize a town hall in CA but also address the concerns of CA gays.

Following the HRC example, as they have for their entire 'tux-n-gown only' existence, the EQCA rep on the DC panel, George, is one of many EQCA who have failed to organize a town hall meeting in SF or LA or Sacramento or San Diego or ANYWHERE in CA.

But it's no problem for George of EQCA to jet to DC to talk to the conference.

Um, at the risk of sounding like a 'no more mr. nice gay' kind of activist, anyone know when the eff HRC and EQCA are doing to organize a few panels in CA?

I sure hope the HRC/EQCA forums happens before the next time they lead the fight against the next CA ballot prop against us.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | December 6, 2008 5:03 PM

Alex,

I guess it is much easier and much safer to sit at a keyboard and bitch about people that actually did work than actually do work to help win equality for LGBT people.

Maybe you will be motivated soon to join the fight rather than just comment on it from on high.

I said on the other thread that hors d'oeuvres will not silence me, and I'll say that nasty words won't either.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | December 6, 2008 9:22 PM

That's right Alex avoid the issue.

You want to sit behind your keyboard hurling criticism at people who are doing the work that you are unwilling to do. It is your right to do so, but don't think that it makes you any better than anyone else.

I don't expect you to be friendly or even social, but you should try doing more than typing.

"avoid this issue"? Um, the only issue here is that you're telling me to STFU. I'm sorry that I'm not going to give you a substantive policy discussion on me shutting my pie hole and going back to Indiana. Maybe we can make a date?

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | December 7, 2008 9:44 AM

No need to make a date or even talk about the issue. I have said what I have to say to you.

When you are ready to do more than criticize the hard work of others while you sit behind your computer maybe then we can have a conversation.

Alex, you previously said marriage equality was not your issue, nor did any of your friends give a shit about the right of gay citizens to enter into civil marriages, but here you are, after sitting the campaign out, mocking those who worked to oppose Prop 8.

While there is plenty of blame to go around, those, who sat it out while the rest of us did the heavy lifting, have no room to talk.

Michael Crawford is absolutely right to confront your hypocrisy.

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | December 6, 2008 5:48 PM

I don't know what your real beef is, Michael, but I find it strange when a blogger belittles the power of blogging to another blogger.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | December 6, 2008 9:30 PM

Marla,

I did not belittle the power of blogging. I have a great respect for bloggers and believe that the work of bloggers is critical to advancing LGBT equality.


My issue with Alex is that he sits behind a computer casting judgment on others who do critical work that he is unwilling to do.

If Alex wants to see things done differently, then he should step away from his computer, roll up his sleeves and join the rest of us who are working with people to create political change.

Michael -

I haven't read enough of Alex's work to know whether your critique of him is accurate. However, you have put your finger on a major problem that people who are trying to get things done face in the LGBT community. I've talked to folks who have done organizing and/or social justice work in other communities and while all of them agree that this is a common problem, they are generally surprised at the rate at which we eat our own in the LGBT community. It's a very real problem that should be addressed on a fundamental level.

To Marla's point about how this critique interacts with blogging, to me it goes to the heart of the risk we have for losing the potential of blogging. If blogging in the LGBT community gets reduced to people simply offering their opinions/complaints (some of which are not supported by actual experience doing ground work), we run the risk of missing out on the investigative/orgainizing/community building aspect of the internet. To be clear, I don't know Alex's work well enough to say whether, in my opinion, he is on that kind of track. However, this is a real problem that I hope we continue to discuss.

Thanks for the coverage, Alex. I also think that the emotional piece needs to me more at the center of this. We need to show our families, show our relationships, show what we do on a daily basis. The misconceptions of what is means to live a "gay lifestyle" are what needs to be attacked. We have to stand up for our dignity. No focus group or expert consultant is needed to understand that at the end of the day politics and life come down to people. We have to share our stories. People always have been and always will be the common denominator.

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | December 6, 2008 5:45 PM

Alex, who said those in power this last time will be given the reins the next time? They only have power because they assume it and people have been happy to let them.

But the HRC ballot measure model has failed over and over and over again -- from Colorado's Amendment 2 onward -- and it's because they do not respect the grassroots ground operation that is a necessary component.

Part of the reason is that they have always -- in part of necessity for fundraising necessary to support their K-Street working style -- organized not according to political geography from the precinct up, but urbanly, where the money can be gathered more efficiently. And their board has failed to then require that the staff turn those dollars into political geography based infrastructure.

If anyone would like to understand from a master how to accomplish that latter goal, either channel the spirit of Harvey Milk, ring Sally Miller Gearhart's doorbell, or book it to Austin to pick Glenn Maxey's brain.

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | December 6, 2008 6:35 PM

I don't think that belittling a religion's basic practices/rituals (as long as they're benign) is a good idea and I think it would have been better to use a generic Yes on 8 doorknocking couple in that ad, criticizing the Mormons instead directly for being the largest source of funding for Prop. 8, for the LDS's leadership defaming us during the election cycle and continuing to do so on the church's website, for the church's extreme under-reporting of its direct aid to the Prop. 8 campaign, for the church's use of implied threat to its members to donate to and volunteer for the Prop. 8 campaign at peril of their church membership and eternal reunification with their family in the afterlife if they did not, and for the fact that this is hardly the first time the church has used its influence to rob us of our rights -- that, instead, it is an ongoing campaign against us of long duration that has become increasingly and highly active for over a decade-and-a-half, including virtually all our trouble with the Boy Scouts of America, and one that does considerable harm to us and our families.

But gay Mormons in this war that their church has declared upon us, where their church has set up a situation where there is no middle ground, and who choose their church despite that, deserve to be treated as the Vichy scum/Quislings/scabs they are, shaved heads, tarring-and-feathering, and all. May they be barred from all gay community support and left to find comfort from their BFF Donny Osmond.

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | December 6, 2008 7:10 PM

I remember when I was in a deadlocked negotiation with a state's health department about getting an effective HIV prevention program for injection drug users going ... the thing dragging on for years with my team jumping thru every hoop required only to discover that more hoops were suddenly put in our path.

I finally spoke in the next meeting with officials about a dream I had had where we were all in an fully equipped ambulance ostensibly heading out to rescue people from a flood that started to slowly take the victims one by one then picked up speed and was taking victims in ever greater numbers.

I had my foot pressed down hard on the gas and the state officials had theirs pressed hard on the brakes and we were going nowhere. I told them that, in my dream, I realized that I could just take my foot off the gas, go around to the back of the vehicle with my team, pick up the rescue equipment and get to work rescuing those flood victims still left alive.

I then said that that was what we were going to do starting right then and that we would welcome their help whenever they decided for themselves that it was what they wanted to do. Then my team and I stood up, went around the room shaking everyone's hand and assuring them personally that we had no hard feelings -- as they just sputtered in stunned shock. We then left and hit the streets saving lives and health.

There is another option to "dragging them kicking and screaming" into twenty-first century organizing. Gently let go of them, letting them know that we'll be out doing the work that needs doing and, if they want to come work productively with us, they'll be welcomed. Then just get going getting the work done, leading by example by sharing information and power and involving everyone willing to help at their full capacity.

This is not brain surgery. It's just identifying the people who stand with us and getting them to the polls, identifying those who reasonably can be helped to stand with us and educating them to the point that they are -- then getting them to the polls, and raising enough money to get the job done. But it must start with figuring out how many votes you need and where they can be found instead of leaving that to the gamble that a media effort has been successful enough.

To Michael's comments, I'm surprised one fellow blogger on this site would talk to another blogger on this site in that tone. Its not the way I would treat other bloggers if I blogged.

I am frankly dumbfounded that Marty Rouse of HRC said what he said and that he has not been fired on the spot. No lessons to learn? And people wonder why HRC is so reviled. Maybe if you've been in the movement 20 years, and we've lost so many fucking battles, it might be time to start learning.

His comments show no humility whatsoever, a complete lack of understanding that maybe HRC doesn't know everything under the moon. If this was someone running an organization or company of mine he would be shopping resumes right now.

Of course, its HRC, so He will probably be promoted next. Director of Training sounds good, sense god knows, no one could train him, hell he has no lessons to learn.

I have one for him- humility.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | December 7, 2008 6:17 AM

Capitalistpiggy,

I will say that there is far more going on than you realize and I will leave it at that.

We have a lot of work to do to work together as a community and going forward I intend to focus on blogging and organizing that builds the LGBT movement and helps us to move forward.

Being HRC means never having to say you're sorry.

Part of the problem is an attitude, an arrogance and a strategy among HRC leaders and alum that can best be comapred to the descriptions one often sees of how the right wingers act.

"It is POLICY in the WH to NOT admit to mistakes. It seems to be a philosophy in the GOP: never admit mistakes, never say you're sorry, and never, ever criticize another Republican."

One could subsitute HRC for the GOP and have a fair approximation of the the sentiments of many towards HRC. Attacking critics or those who were harmed by your mistakes and actions (not just looking at the prop 8 issue) - isn't going to lead to fruitful organizing or community building.

But - I won't hold my breath. They're not even at the Nixsonian "mistakes were made" stage yet.

I think that one of the commenters on here touched on the problem completely. I personally believe that our movement needs grassroots development in order to effectively take on the opposition, something that HRC not only doesn't seem to understand but obviously goes against their goals and principles.

I'm also concerned about this assumption that I think has been suggested on here, that we shouldn't criticize or attack organizations in our community. That's like saying it's unpatriotic for us to challenge our president or government, number one.

It also misses the point, that it doesn't seem like HRC is really part of our community. Their leadership does not reflect the diversity of our community. They don't hold themselves accountable to our community. They marginalize members of our community, and they promote campaigns that don't necessarily benefit most of us in the LGBT community. So how is criticizing them attacking a group in our community when they are so out of touch?


Chris Daley | December 7, 2008 8:46 PM

Carlo -

I'm not sure if you're responding to my above post about "eating our own." If you are, I did not mean to imply critique does not have a role and apologize if I implied that. However, the ease with which people can offer critiques (and too often just complaints) via the internet has resulted in some people's sole activity being critique. To me, that is a HUGE problem. Critique, in and of itself, isn't progress.

We may have a disagreement on whether "attacks" are useful, though. Except in very rare cases, I think they are both unuseful and harmful to the larger movement. Of course we should be holding organizations and individuals accountable, but in my experience there are a number of ways to do that which end well short of attacks.

Further, the lesson from MILK that I don't see people mentioning (though it may be there and I've just missed it) is: go do your own thing. Don't wait for the leaders to agree with you. If you see another path, take it and work like hell to get others to follow you. After all, what has ever gotten accomplished by someone who simply sits around and tells other people what to do and how to do it? In my experience, nothing.

Since I worked on the campaign in Northern Calif, in a county that won I would like to make a few observations. Can anyone tell me if any of the panelists were POC? I will reserve comment until I get the answer.

Since we were assured at the start of the campaign that this effort would learn from past mistakes and in fact did not, I do not think it is time yet to move on. Why not? Has anyone with one shred of decision making power said this is what we did wrong and this is how we would change the next time? Because there will be a next time. There has been NO accountability and no transparency still so I feel there is more to be discussed so I am not ready to move on.

One more thing in reference to the previous discussion about blogging vs doing other chores. I wanted to blog if I was hired by the campaign. I was told in capital LETTERS, NO! No blogging. I could never find time to blog when working full plus time on this campaign so I just wanted to point that these are two different jobs. Unless one walks in another's work shoes it is difficult to appreciate what is being done. But when this electionwas over I wondered aloud where all these people had been during the campaign who were now out marching. Just my perspective from the front lines.


Chris,

Actually it wasn't you I was talking about and while I don't completely agree with some of your views, your last paragraph I agree with wholeheartedly. In fact, my experience has been that that the only way grassroots movements/campaigns can survive is with a Do-It-Yourself philosophy.

As you noted, it's not only necessary for people to step up and do what they see needs to be done, but that's exactly where the power of grassroots comes from, individuals/groups having the autonomy and power to react to the constant feedback, information and actions that make up our world today.

Leaders from a top-down system can't react fast enough so it's up to ALL of us to take the lead, while trying to uphold shared principles and values.

Michael Crawford is crowing about his 'work' supporting the candidacy of the bigot whose "god's in the mix" torpedoed our marriage rights in California, Arizona and Florida.

I hope that as the bigot pandering of Obama and the Democrats produce the expected results he'll take the opportunity to rethink his political misleadership. Aiding and abetting the election of a pro-business, pro-war bigot-pandering hustler like Obama is nothing to be proud of. On the contrary...

Alex Blaze continues to confuse the GLBT movement and the Democrat party. That confusion among the unelected, self-appointed misleaders of No on 8, HRC, and various movement bureaucrats, coupled with Obama's "god's in the mix" is the direct cause of our recent defeats. The Democrat party is one of two parties that pander to bigots and are owned by bigots. They’re still tossing us under the bus.

The GLBT movement should respond to Obama and the betrayals of the Democrats and Republicans by becoming independent of both. Our goal is not to elect more hustlers who’ll more forcefully toss us under more buses, but to fight for our equality. That cannot be done through the Democrat party because they are the enemy.

Bill,

While I do agree with you on some points, I'm not sure I would have phrased it as harshly as you, although I probably shouldn't talk. Still, I'm not sure that Obama deserves all the blame you're placing on him.

Sure his use of religion during his election campaign was something we should all be wary of. I'm not sure it contributed to the passage of Prop 8, however, especially when he came out so publicly against it, in one case, less than a week before Nov. 4 after Yes on 8 people tried to mislead the public into thinking he was supportive of the measure. That could have hugely effected his electability had the Right been paying attention.

As far the Democratic party is concerned, I've always felt we put too much stock in them and in politicians overall. That’s why we need to focus instead on how we can make the changes we want to see instead of waiting for the right political climate, leaders, or for politicians to stick their necks out for us.

We have a lot power as individuals, but especially as a group, so long, as we recognize that we’re all leaders with our own autonomy and power and are just as knowledgeable, if not more so, about our own communities than some HRCer or some other white, middle class bigwig with a college degree trying to tell us what they think we need or what we need to work on for them (woo, I know that’s a lot in one sentence, but stil...)

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | December 9, 2008 6:08 AM

Carlo, it's not a question of Obama by himself. He leads the party and soon the country but he's part of an apparatus of politics and government that governs him absolutely. In that scheme of things our interests are largely ignored.

His open bigotry regarding same sex marriage, which HRC types and No on 8 ignored, is common in the Democrat Party. Both Clintons share it, as does Biden and virtually all their leadership. They oppose and gutted ENDA, gave us DOMA and DADT, refused to mention us in the platform and only published their GLBT platform, such as it is, after the election. They simply dropped the hate crimes bill because it was inexpedient in the run up to the election. They've run that bus over us every chance they get.

That said Obama was key in the bashing we got in California, Florida and Arizona. The three main superstition driven voices urging an end to same sex marriage were Obama and the catholic and mormon cults.

HRC style careerists, wannabe appointees to Obama’s administration, movement bureaucrats and others in that milieu of self-appointed self-seeking ‘leaders’ infest the GLBT movement and front for the bigots who run the Democrat party. Their careerism and political errors both flow form their delusional idea that the Democrat party is a vehicle for change. It isn’t. Democrats, like Republicans, have the goal of preserving the privileges and wealth of the rich and, unless compelled, they usually are not for change.

We’ll never get the chance to compel them if we’re in their political closet. We won't be successful until we create massive, democratically run GLBT coalitions that are independent of that self-seeking milieu. Right now I’d bet that our best option is to concentrate on the passage of an inclusive ENDA and a campaign to increase union organization for all working people.