Guest Blogger

An Open Letter to Cleve Jones from Toni Broaddus

Filed By Guest Blogger | September 16, 2009 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement, The Movement
Tags: Cleve Jones, Equality Across America, Equality Federation, gay rights, LGBT rights, National Equality March, Toni Broaddus

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Toni Broaddus is the Executive Director of the Equality Federation. The Federation is the national alliance of state-based lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organizations.

Toni_Broaddus.jpgDear Cleve,

We don't really know each other, but I've always respected your work, especially as a leader working on HIV and AIDS issues. And I know that hundreds of thousands of LGBT people still look up to you, especially since your early days of activism have been immortalized on the big screen.

But over the past year, I've become increasingly disillusioned by your comments in the press about the work of our movement in the states. You have repeatedly said that "the state strategy is a failed strategy." Cleve, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Over the past three decades, our movement has passed hundreds of laws at the state and local level. By way of contrast, we have been unable to pass any laws at the federal level that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT people, let alone bring us closer to equality.

Cleve, it is a fact that the only success our movement has had in securing equal rights for LGBT people to date is at the state level, even as most of our movement's resources have been focused on the national level. Your claim of a failed state strategy simply is not supported by reality. Without our work to achieve equality in the states, LGBT people in this country would have no rights at all.

Federal vs State Level Rights

In twenty-one states and the District of Columbia, lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are protected from employment discrimination. Transgender people are protected from employment discrimination in 13 states and DC. Currently, federal law provides no employment protections - and even after ENDA passes at the federal level, hundreds of thousands of LGBT people will still be protected only under state laws, because ENDA won't apply to most small businesses.

Relationship recognition is also currently only available at the state and local level for same-sex couples. Marriage, for example, is governed primarily at the state level. And while only six states currently allow same-sex couple to marry, the federal government does not currently recognize those marriages at all. Increasing numbers of states and localities are beginning to recognize domestic partnerships, as well - so at this point in history, only state and local governments provide any recognition for LGBT people and our families.

Other family law issues - from adoption to domestic violence - are also covered under state (and not federal) laws. Hate crimes laws exist at the state level, but not federally. Safe schools and anti-bullying laws are passing at the state level - but not yet federally.

Are the protections we currently have in some states enough? Absolutely not. Do we need to take advantage of the opportunity to begin passing the federal laws we have been unable to pass since the Stonewall riots 40 years ago? Absolutely.

But, Cleve, your repeated denouncing of the work we have done in the states over the past 40 years shows a surprising lack of understanding of the history of our movement, as well as a lack of sophistication about what has been required to put our movement in a position to pass federal laws.

Federal Legislation Begins Locally

The work we need to do begins in our neighborhoods and continues in our nation's capitol. Federal legislation - and litigation, for that matter - does not succeed in a vacuum. Given your years of experience, you must know that elected officials follow their constituents far more often than they lead them. One of the best predictors of a federal legislator's support for LGBT issues is the status of LGBT laws in that legislator's home state.

Indeed, a thoughtful look at the history of every other social justice movement shows us that winning policy changes in at least a majority of states is almost always a necessary precursor to legislative and legal victories at the federal level. It is the work we've done in the states that has brought us to this moment of opportunity federally and it is the work in the states that will keep pushing our movement closer to full equality.

Cleve, the federal strategy you support is absolutely critical for taking this movement even further toward equality. This is a strategy that most activists in the states support. In fact, most of us who work and collaborate on strategies for equality believe that we have to work at all levels of government - local, state, and federal; legislatures, courts, and the ballot - if we are going to be successful in achieving the equality we seek. You seem to suggest that we can do it all at the federal level - but I don't know anyone else in this movement who believes that.

Still, I do agree with you that now is the time to pass federal legislation. I could be wrong, but I think we also agree that sustainable change has to happen from the ground up - not from the top down. If we don't begin the education work in our own communities and neighborhoods, we will never be able to make change in Congress. Working for change at the local and state level gives us the opportunity to build relationships, recruit allies, and educate the public - all necessary components of any effort to create change.

The work on the ground is something state equality groups have been doing for a couple of decades now (some have been doing the work for a lot longer and some are just getting started). Without this strong history of local and state-based activism, we would not have been able to coalesce as a community to reject a top-down strategy directing that we take transgender people out of the federal employment nondiscrimination act.

In fact, the reason we knew that removing gender identity from ENDA would be a failed strategy is because we had already learned that lesson in the states - and because we had already built support in the states for including all members of our community in legislation affecting our community. That's not what Washington wanted to do - that was what people on the ground demanded.

We Have Achieved Key Victories

Cleve, we are not so far apart in that we have both been moved by the amazing increase in grassroots support for equality since the passage of Prop 8 in California last fall. Certainly we both believe that the energy and passion of young activists can carry this movement to the next level.

New strategies and new tactics can be a good thing, and every movement needs to consider and employ a wide range of both. But it is, quite frankly, an irresponsible waste of resources and talent - not to mention insulting to thousands of activists who have been doing this work for years - to suggest that we have had no successes in this movement, or that we should ditch our work in the states, or that we cannot learn from our movement's history.

That's what troubles me most, Cleve. Your place in history is assured, but I am struggling with the way your statements about work in the states actually revise history in a way that is simply not accurate. I am shocked that you have so little respect for those activists and advocates who have been working for years to give us the protections that we do have in this country - and that set the stage for the federal solutions you are now seeking.

So let me make a very public request of you, Cleve. Could you please stop saying that the state strategy is a failed strategy? Instead, could you acknowledge that we have achieved key victories for equality in the states? I understand that you believe the time has come for a federal strategy, and I'm not challenging that opinion here or suggesting that you modify your views. I am, however, asking that you get your facts straight.

As a public figure and as someone celebrated by many as a leader in the LGBT movement, you have been given both a gift and a responsibility. You can use your position to help others understand our history, or you can rewrite history to serve your own agenda.

Cleve, I believe that you are promoting the March for Equality and a new federal strategy for the same reason that I work to promote the work of state equality groups. Both of us want to see full equality for LGBT people in our lifetimes - in every state and throughout this country. But I think you diminish your own role as a leader by disrespecting the work of thousands of activists in the states who have also made a huge difference for this movement by bringing the LGBT people in their states very real protections and rights. So let's disagree on strategies or tactics, but support the work of all activists who are working for equality.

The movement needs all of us.

Respectfully,

Toni Broaddus


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While I fully agree with just about everything said here, I must take issue with one thing.

Ms. Broaddus is of course correct that the battle for federal protections is fueled and informed by battles for these rights at the state level, but she seems to completely ignore the fact that many of state battles, both those already won and those going on right now, have progressed to the point they have in large part directly due to the efforts and success of activists in cities and municipalities across the US.

Would the State of Pennsylvania be considering such a statewide law now if similar laws hadn't already been successfully passed in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and many other PA jurisdictions? Would New York State be as close as they are to a transgender rights law if similar laws weren't already on the books in New York City, Syracuse, Rochester, and many other places in the state?

True grassroots activism springs from the very bottom up, not from bigshot state leaders but from groups of serious activists meeting in the basements of their local churches or Pride Centers. The fight for equality doesn't begin in state capitals, it truly begins in the offices of mayors and police chiefs, and in the hearts and minds of people who take it upon themselves to confront their local officials and enlist them in our cause.

Frankly, I think it's clear that Cleve Jones isn't the only activist who needs to seriously broaden their perspective.

GuestCommenter | September 16, 2009 10:09 PM

While Juro's concern about acknowledgment of local level progress is actually not ignored by Broaddus in her piece, one should not forget the reality of the problem of Dillon Rule or Home Rule issues in various states which force work to focus at the state, rather than local, level in many states.

Broaddus is correct and should be applauded for remaining positive yet focused on the overall possible good at all levels, while some dismiss her and others work.

I hope we don't dismiss ANYONE's work--Rebecca's, Toni's, Cleve's or Bil's for that matter. Its ALL good work. I don't think any work that people are doing for the LGBT community is BAD work. There may be some misguided moves, but when someone's heart is in the right place, you can't get down on them for being human.

This march is a good thing. Fighting for Federal legislation is a good thing. Fighting for CONTINUED WINS in the state is a good thing. Fighting for wins locally--such as the Kalamazoo Non-Discrimination Ordinance... these are ALL important and ALL GOOD!

I don't think there is an easy answer to this argument and I hope it will be resolved with a joining of forces, but I did witness the work done in Connecticut over the years, and I have to say that the Connecticut heroes were the local team who worked tirelessly and with little praise and stroking from even the local gay community. They trusted their instincts and when they won, they handed to those of us who had done less local work, a set of hard-won rights and opportunities that we were glad to enjoy while feeling a bit of guilt for having let them do all the work. I think that victory was largely local in genesis and execution.

Ms. Broaddus,

WONDERFUL! 100% agreement! I've tried to make similar points both here in my posts on Bilerico and on my personal blog--as well as everyone that I discuss this march with. You're absolutely correct that anything good that happens on the Federal level from here on out is going to come from continuing our monstrous positive momentum on the state and local levels.

I see this march as a wonderful opportunity to really further our gains on the state and local level for many reasons. I hope that both the Equality Federation and many of the state and local groups make a big showing.

This will be our first huge National event since the new media revolution. We have an opportunity to connect and collaborate on a scale we've never even dreamed of before. We will be able to network across all 50 states at once, we will be able to share that with our troops back home simultaneously, but--most exciting--we'll be able to take that collaboration back with us in a new and exciting way.

If a grassroots organizer out West wants to duplicate a successful campaign from, say, Vermont--they won't have to rely on emails, phone-tag and notes from the workshop to do it. New Media will allow that workshop where best practices were shared to continue infinitely. The successful Vermont campaigner can be Skyped in to a board meeting and the brainstorming can be done in a whole new way. Vodcast training, real-time tweet updates, document collaboration... all these new technologies make the prospect of what will follow the march VERY exciting to me.

I love Equality Federation's mission, and I hope to see them take a prominent role in DC in one month. I'll be looking for all of you, and I can't wait to see what will follow this march in my state and in the other 49!

Thank you Toni Broaddus - well said and all too true.

But - you left unsaid the terrible truth that the Equality March is diverting vital energy and funding from critical election battles that are being fought RIGHT NOW in several states and cities, particularly in Maine and Washington state. The Equality March will occur only 3 weeks before the referendums in those two states. The idea that any consciousness (or funding) raised or any energy generated at the March is going to make it to WA and ME in time to make a difference is fatuous.

Look at the deceptive ads that the anti-gay forces are running in Maine - and consider that those people apparently have at least a 2 to 1 funding advantage over the pro-equality folks.

We stand a real chance of losing these two critical battles because the focus of the "lgbt community" is in the wrong place. And losses in Maine and Washington would swing the momentum against us on all our major issues at the federal level.

Wait a minute, Tristam, you're assuming -- incorrectly I believe -- that there is and should be only one focus of the LGBT community. We are a community with many diverse interests and concerns, and different LGBT people have different points of contact.

I hope that you are successful in turning back the referenda about marriage and domestic partnerships in Maine and Washington State, but I am not devoting any resources to those fights anyway, DC March or no. There are so many strikes against us that I see are more fundamental -- like violence, poverty, and job discrimination -- and I only have so much time, effort and money. I wish you well, and I stand with you, but I am not going to Maine or Washington State.

Where there are local fights, like Maine and Washington State, I am sure that most people will work on the issue right in front of them. For people like me, that big group of transsexual labor law professors in New York State, we have other battles that we am better qualified and more interested in fighting.

If we come from scarcity, and act like we don't have any resources or allies, and argue amongst each other about who gets the diminishing pile of marbles, then we will attract an aura of scarcity.

If we come from abundance, and recognize that we have many resources and many allies, and call upon those people and resources to help us succeed, then we will attract abundance.

So keep on working hard. Good luck in Maine and Washington State, and wish us luck here!

I disagree. Loses in Washington and Main WILL NOT set us back. Why? My rationale is complex, but here it goes (I'm quoting my own blog):

In anticipation of a gay march on Washington this year, and a challenge in the Supreme Court of the United States, many gay leaders are telling our people to calm down, wait, change will come.

The words of Martin Luther King Jr. come to mind, “…This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism…”

I’ve listened to commentary and read opinions all against a march on Washington and a fight in the courts. It is interesting how we forget the history of this nation.

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled against woman’s suffrage in 1875. Two figures emerged from this struggle, Carrie Chapman Catt, who used peaceful rallies, meetings and orderly demonstrations, and Alice Paul, who launched furious attacks on Woodrow Wilson, compared him to Kaiser Wilhelm, set fire to his speeches, chained herself to the White House fence, and was eventually imprisoned and tortured.

Who had more of an impact on public opinion?

In the spring of 1961, two hundred young black leaders meet in Raleigh, NC to talk about strategy for civil rights. Much like HRC professes to speak for they gay community today, these black men were discouraged by the lack of progress of the NAACP.

What was formed was SNCC, Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. Two leaders from SNCC, Stokely Carmichael and John Lewis eventual parted ways in much the same way the Alice Paul and Carrie Catt did.

Lewis’s vision was integration, reform within the system, and voter education. He became a national leader for integration and civil rights. Carmichael eventually joined the Black Panthers and popularized the term “Black Power!”

Said Carmichael, “Yeah, I’m violent. Somebody touch me, I’ll break their arm!” and “The honkies don’t have love, can’t spell nonviolence, don’t know what religion is all about, and you know they ain’t got rhythm. But they have power, that’s what they have. Power over our lives! So we got to get it clear; the thing we need is power.”

Who had more of an impact on public opinion?

Even in our corner of the world, on August 25, 1921, in Logan County, West Virginia, between 10,000 and 15,000 coal miners confronted company-paid private detectives in an effort to unionize the southwestern West Virginia mine counties.

The miners lost the battle which was eventually halted by the national guard. This event and others galvanized the union movement and favorably swayed public opinion in favor of unionization of coal mines.

So I cannot help but think of these underdogs when the popular sentiment is to discourage marches and protests and instead rely on lobbying and education efforts.

“…when everyone agrees on something, it usually turns out to be wrong…”

So whether we’re talking about a march on Washington or a fight at the Supreme Court, it is not possible for us to loose this war.

There is no such thing as a step backward when it comes to progressing equality. Every failure is a success. Failure unites people; failure teaches us valuable lessons. The longer we delay our failures, the longer we delay our success.

I agree. Losses in Maine and Washington WILL set us back across the country and at the Federal level. Losses here will send a message to lawmakers that the American public are still, by and large, not ready to tolerate treating gays and lesbians like human beings, and therefore it would not be politically expedient to break with party ranks or donors to support anything pro-gay.

Losses in Washington and Maine WILL set us back.

That said, I donated to Maine THREE TIMES and Washington as well before I EVER made the decision I may have enough left over this month to fund a trip to DC. WA, ME were my priorities, and when I realized I had enough left over for DC after paying bills this month, I started looking. Everyone should give to ME and WA that goes to DC, but I don't think we should CANCEL DC because WA and ME are going on too. A multi-pronged approach is smart. Like Dr. Weiss said, we DO have a lot of resources, and we DO have a lot of allies. Lets USE them, not hoard them! Let's do as much as we can!

See you in DC! GO MAINE! GO WASHINGTON!

Rebecca Flynn | September 17, 2009 1:21 AM

Since I moved to Oregon in 2003, the state's grassroots LGBT rights group, Basic Rights Oregon, has spearheaded the successful passage of statewide laws that:
1. protect gay and trans folks from discrimination in housing, employment and public accomodation;
2. afford same-sex couples who register as domestic partners the same rights and responsibilities as straight couples under Oregon law (ex: hospital visitation rights, inheritance, assumed parentage of children by non-biological mom, etc.);
3. prohibit bullying and harrassment of gay and trans school kids (also includes protections based on race, ethnicity, religion, disability, etc.).
These accomplishments were built on decades of work at the local and state level by thousands of queer and straight people in Oregon.

In contrast, during my five years of professional work for national LGBT groups in Washington, DC, (1996 - 2000) we did not pass a single bill that provided proection for LGBT people (other than HIV funding bills). We did work hard at the national level, and we fought off some bad, bad legislation, but we made no tangible progress.

Now is the time to be lobbying in state capitals, meeting with our members of Congress about federal legislation, and sending money to Maine; it is not the time to march on Washington.

I certainly agree that a greater state/local focus MUST be pushed. I CHARGE Equality Federation to become more visible, more forceful and embrace new organizing and collaboration mechanisms out there.

I do NOT think that a Bigger push on state organizing in DC EXCLUSIVE. DC is where the lobbying and politics know-how is. Its a great place to bring local leaders together with national experts.

I think that the workshops associated with this march are going to EXPLODE with creativity and collaboration that we will take back to the 50 states with us and use. This march MAY be the SPARK for a great new local/state Equality Renaissance!

Yes, yes, yes and yes. I agree with Toni, I agree with Cleve, and I agree with Rebecca and Phil.

I think a key argument in favor of ENDA to legislators is that there are already many states and many cities that have enacted similar laws since 1975, with none of the evil consequences touted by the right as scare tactics. Thus, federal-level activism must look to state and local activism in order to succeed.

I also think that it is recognized, as it must be, by the National Equality March and Equality Across America that ENDA and federal laws alone cannot achieve our goals by themselves. A federal law is not a panacea. Civil rights will not magically appear the day after enactment. It is a tool for the real work, the very difficult work of local-level education that makes the protections of the statute spring into life when people need it.

Equality Across America's campaign of creating Congressional District Action Teams demonstrates commitment to the principle of local action.

However, I sense a level of disorganization at Equality Across America that makes me reluctant to commit my limited time to it. I'm sure I am not alone in this concern. My attempts to help Equality Across America have met with complete inaction on the part of EAA personnel. I had some lengthy exchanges with one of the EAA staff, asking me to help find a person to work with the transgender community and to help with forming the Congressional District Action Teams. I was also to receive a phone call from a person higher up in the chain. I was supposed to get an email with information so I could take action. No email. No phone call. My follow-up was met with complete incomprehension, no memory of our conversation, and no information. That is a very bad sign.

I will attend the march, but I cannot, as of yet, commit to working with EAA until it demonstrates that it is organized to accomplish its goals.

That's clearly an issue with trying to put on such large-scale action in such a short time-frame. Until an organizational infrastructure is in place, rather than rely on disjointed and decentralized action from each autonomous member, EAA ought to make use of the wealth of free web-based aps and cloud-computing to create common/shared information sources, like you did, Dr. Weiss. As soon as anyone in the organization has a contact with someone? BOOM: new collaborative document on that person. When that conversation migrates to a new member? BOOM: update the collaborative document.

There's a free online app called AirSet that would really help out with that--I like using it a lot for my groups. EAA should have an AirSet like application everyone signs into and anytime anyone in the organization speaks to anyone new in their capacity as a member of the leadership, they can quickly create a file for that contact, and anyone else in the leadership can view and edit it. It sounds like a service like this would make life easier for them.

I doubt its a matter of bad leaders or bad leadership. It seems to me its more a matter of no infrastructure to have these sorts of multi-person extended interactions. Everyone seems to just be doing their own thing, working from their own address books, not really including anyone else. I can understand why--there's a lot to do! However, when someone from the leadership reaches out to someone else, there ought to be a record of that that EVERYONE ELSE in the leadership can access.

EAA, you keep on keeping on, though. This is a learning experience, and I'm sure you all will be able to take a lot of positive from this in the end!

Why does Cleve think he has to put down local work to make his idea of national work more important?

And the first effort on the national level was ONE Magazine's lawsuit against the local post office in Los Angeles.

that was both local and national-fortunately we won. today Cleve and everyone benefits from what ONE did in 1954.

If the battles should be fought on a statewide level Toni accept this challenge .. Get out of San Fran. and move to Austin, or Atlanta..or one of the many other places where we just don't see a lot of progress.

Good job Cleve - glad this seems to be coming together.

Angela Brightfeather | September 17, 2009 1:14 PM

Dear Toni,

While I agree with you on many points you have made, if not all of them, having to deal with two distinct "equality" groups in NY and NC over the past, I have also found that there still is some inequality that takes place in these groups that not only affects true grassroots input, but outright blocks it in some ways, making the process incomplete and unequal.

As a recent post showed depicting the speech given by Malcolm X, regarding the difference between "house negroes" and "field negroes", it has been my personal experience that there are some very real comparisons that can be made between the first group and some equality groups and the second group and grassroots activists in the GLBT movement that tend to block the exchange of talent and information.

Correctly noted by most people commenting, there is local, state and national activism in the loop, but the one thing that is not mentioned is that they have to smoothly and equally overlap to some degree in order for any common goals to be made affective. At present, there seems to be a hierarchy created for each of these levels of action that hampers the working relationship and overlap necessary to be inclusive, knowledgeable and affective.

Among the characteristics that each of these levels of activism share and overlap, one appears to be excluded, blackballed, disregarded and insulted on a regular basis. As each of these GLBT state groups may be considered on the "left" of center, the most disdain seems to be reserved for the "radical activist" or what might be termed the "left of the left".

Also, in many of these groups, anyone professing to be even moderate about their insistence for Transgender equality and rights, is branded as "to damn radical" to be a particiapant at either the state or the national levels in many cases. The evidence of this is very clear when Transgender issues (or left of left) issues are used as the canary in the mine, to measure exactly how serious equality groups are about equality.

This shows up in three distinct ways. First in the level of committment that equality groups are willing to state in a formal vote that they will only work on inclusive legislation. Second with the number of Transgender people who are allowed to serve at the state or national level who are reputed to be "left of left" and are unable to pass a more than vigorous vetting process, which includes conditions like the ability to openly raise funds from a community that is 40% or more, under or not employed. Lastly, the ability of the Trans person to "look" more acceptable or passable.

Since your comments to Cleve argue for the importnce of state level activism and the value of that, which I fully agree with, I mention my points in connection with both the state and national levels of activism and their ability to be able to be as affective as they really need to be. After all there is a reason why 8 states are still not equal in their antidiscrimination laws, some for more than 12 years like New York. As long as that condition persists, it is reasonable to at least question the affectiveness of any level of our community that allows that to be less than a top priority matter, above and beyond all other issues. Equality means the same thing to all of us, therefore we should all be treated that way from DC to the smallest town in every state and in every color and way of self expressing it.

Thanks so much, Toni, for your thoughtful letter. You echo my thoughts very well.

Personally, I would prefer redirecting to local communities and state organizations all of the energy and money currently flowing into the national march.

On the other hand, the march is raising enthusiasm and does have the potential to spur organizing at the local and state level. Perhaps the march will even get the attention of Congress, although the effectiveness of such marches has diminished enormously since the great civil rights march of 1963. (Why? So many causes have marched on Washington that politicians tend to ignore even huge gatherings.)

What concerns me the most right now is raising the political sophistication of the LGBT community. Even if we ignore the fight for equality on the state and local level -- and I don't think we should -- we can't win in Congress without first winning locally.

Our nation is a representative democracy. That means none of our bills will pass Congress until we first win elections in a majority of Congressional districts and succeed in putting 60 pro-equality senators in office.

This isn't a fragmented strategy, this isn't pandering to the Democrats and Republicans, it's reality.

Very well put!


Angela also brought up a very important point that there needs to be cohesive overlap, and not a hierarchy of priorities--"The Federal Organizations are the boss, and the state Organizations are the managers, and the Local organizations are the bottom of the latter, and if the boss comes in, you get out of the way and let the boss do what the boss does best!"

The Federal Organizations can provide amazing resources for the state and local organizations, and should be our institutes our academies and our think tanks where we learn and record best practice, where we train, network and organize. Likewise, the State organizations can do the same for the local. However, Everyone should take the lead in their own home, and the "bigger" organization shouldn't swoop in and push the locals out of the way. Don't come in my kitchen and take over MY stove. You can pick out a recipe, you can hand me your favorite spices, but the spoon stays in MY hand.

Kalamazoo Michigan is a MICROCOSM for this enormously erroneous dichotomy right now. I won't tell their story for them, but ask a local Kalamazoo Organizer how they feel about The Triangle Foundation, NGLTF and HRC right now.

We need to trust one another's abilities and talents, recognize a multi-pronged strategy, and build a positive; encouraging; supportive and inclusive National infrastructure, as well as 50 state-wide infrastructures of the same nature, that seek to INCLUDE rather than EXCLUDE.


I agree with Cleve. And I have stated so on my website www.back2stonewall.com

A state by state battle for LGBT rights of any kind is just wrong. Rights for woment and african americans were not done state by state and by doing so we not only fragment our resources we waste precious time. It's almost an almost impossible battle to win. When left to the states it usually comes down to the peoples vote in the end.

State by state is and always has been a horrible starategy. Amd that is something we must realize and move away from

Wolf-Your comments show a lack of knowledge of history particularly of the civil rights movement where local and state work was vital and preceded any national change.

Mike.

Perhaps YOU should look not only over your history but politics as well. "State Rights" during the African American Civil Rights battle was nothing more than an enablement of bigoty in politics. Much as it is today as an enablement of homophobia.

As Ms Broaddus herself notes it has taken 3 DEACADES (30 Years) in the State by State fight to get ONLY twenty-one states and the District of Columbia, to protect lesbian, gay, and bisexual people from employment discrimination. (Which still leaves 29 States where LGBT discrimination is legal.

And thats just one small section of our fight.

30 YEARS and only 21 States.

Makes you wonder what 30 years of fighting to expand Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include those protections would have sowed.

I have to respectfully but totally disagree with your insinuation that we HAVEN'T been working to get all of these Federal Bills passed for the past 30 years. In fact, you are right that we haven't been working to get them passed for the past 30--we've been working 44.

Our first high-profile LGBT rights demonstration happened July 4th, 1965 at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA. Gays and Lesbians from all over the nation rallied at this National Landmark to demand Equality in Federal Hiring practices.

Our Federal strategy predates even the Stonewall Riots, and there was never ever a break. The NGLTF was founded four years after Stonewall. It isn't as if we just woke up a few years ago after putting all of our energy into state strategies and said "Oh my! We forgot the Federal Government!"

The Human Rights Campaign and other DC organizations have been CONSTANTLY and CONSISTENTLY putting pressure on the Federal Government (for better or for worse, however we feel about their work) since 1980. Their only reason for existence is to provide us with a consistent Federal connection.

I'm not saying that a Federal strategy is bad--I give my money, I've done my lobbying. However, the suggestion that we HAVEN'T been fighting to get those same protections SINCE the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed is a little misleading.

I really wish someone who is coupled in Maine or Washington would speak out here.

I support the march, but for some reason other several other people who support the march seem to think that because they're supporting the march, they get to hate on local and state efforts like they're unimportant. I think that's dangerous.

If we can't even have compassion for one another's struggles, how can we expect the Right to show compassion for ours? We have people on this thread belittling the problems faced and the efforts made by members of OUR OWN community. Not the Far Right. Not the power structure. Our own community.

If you can't feel compassion for the fight happening in Maine, then I'd (controversially) argue that our MOVEMENT doesn't deserve compassion and consideration either.

So you're not one half of a couple raising a family in Maine. You've got your own struggle. But why should I care about you? Your struggle isn't my struggle and--hey--maybe its even getting more attention than my struggle, and therefore is getting in my way!

We have to unite, not divide. If we can't unite, its over. Period.