Editors' Note: Guest blogger Heather Cronk is the Managing Director of GetEQUAL.
Bil and Bilerico community -- here is my response to Behind the Veil: Is GetEqual the New HRC?...just a few things I'd like to clarify, with an ask at the end:
"With any organization, whoever holds the pocketbook is who's in charge."
This assertion may be true in Bil's experience (I know he has an extensive nonprofit client list, though I don't know the full list of organizations or their relationships with funders), but it certainly sounds defeatist. In my experience, the power of funders is dictated by the extent to which EDs allow that power to be exerted. It is not a fact that the people writing the checks necessarily hold all power -- though I would love to know more about what in Bil's experience leads him to believe that. I'd wager that many organizations do often yield to funder wishes, but it's a fallacy to assert that this is a fact...much less that it is true in GetEQUAL's case with no clear evidence to which to point.
GetEQUAL is committed to running campaigns that come directly out of our experience in and with the LGBT community, and the door is open to ideas. We're in the midst now of figuring out some strategic next steps around both "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the long-promised and long-awaited Employment Non-Discrimination Act. And we're trying to plan out those next steps in consultation with activists, politicos, friends, allies, and -- yes -- detractors. We're learning from past mistakes and past successes, and we look forward to taking action with as many people as are willing to join us.
"Nothing says 'I have power over you' than 'I own the house you sleep in while you work for the organization I fund.' While the intentions are more than likely positive, the power dynamic is undeniable and uncomfortable."
I'm from the South, and we adhere to the principle of hospitality -- which is exactly what Paul and Donald, and many other GetEQUAL supporters, have offered up. This paragraph seems dramatic at best and libelous at worst. To my knowledge, Bil hasn't had a conversation with Paul about his "intentions" in offering up his home and extending hospitality to LGBT activists. I'd gladly do the same, as I hope that any member of our community would.
There have been several DC-based actions that GetEQUAL has planned, and we've tried to be good stewards of the resources we have. For those who have participated in GetEQUAL actions, coming together afterward in one place to feed off of one another's energy, to debrief and reflect, to coordinate messaging, and to break bread (and, for some, to share a tasty beverage) is a core reason why people come back and do it all over again. I'm glad for the generosity of seasoned activists, and look forward to building more relationships based in friendship and hospitality.
"Installing a handpicked board made up of large donors and fundraisers is the way many of the largest progressive orgs - HRC included - operate.... Will it be packed with cronies and allies or will it consist of a respectable and diverse mix of seasoned and new activists?"
I can't speak to HRC's board -- between the Board of Directors, the Foundation Board, and the Board of Governors, I only know one person personally...and I have no knowledge of how/why members of those boards were asked to serve. From where I stand, it would be irresponsible of GetEQUAL (or any other group) to name members of its board before those names are finalized. I don't know if other LGBT organizations' boards are "packed with cronies," as Bil asserts -- that seems like an unnecessarily blanket statement. Once GetEQUAL's board is finalized, we'll be happy to make those names public.
We'll also be glad to let folks know as much of our strategy and our plans as possible. As one commenter alluded to yesterday, football teams don't telegraph their plays to the other team when they come out of the huddle. (Forgive the sports analogy -- it's what I know.) We're happy to continue riding the line between being open/transparent with our community, while also using our best judgment when the time comes to keep things close to the vest. All we ask is that folks come at our work with openness and assume good intentions until given a reason to assume otherwise -- and to give us your thoughts/ideas about what we can do to move the ball down the field. (Again with the sports analogies...)
On the whole, this post raises some good questions -- I hope I've answered a few, and I look forward to answering more in the next month or two. I appreciate Bil's commitment to transparency, and to his readers' interest in the work that GetEQUAL is doing and plans to do. Please feel free to send suggestions, comments, questions, hate mail, or love mail to info [at] getequal [dot] org.