Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

What I'd Like To See From GetEqual

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | June 07, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Get Equal, GetEqual, Heather Cronk, Kip Williams, Robin McGehee

Bil and Heather have had their say about GetEqual's structure, accountability and transparency, and whether GetEqual has been going down the right road.getequal.jpg

Interesting and important stuff, but I'd also like to talk about where they're going.

For that purpose, I'd like to work backwards from what GetEqual says it wants.

It's the same technique that planners of all sorts use for scheduling any project. We need to know what we want, and when we want it. (Aside from "justice" and "now," of course.)

I don't mean this plan to replace a democratically arrived-at plan. It's just what I think. If it's helpful, great. If it's garbage, put it in the garbage pail.

As always, I welcome comments on what you think.

Strategic Planning

The strategic planning method I like to use is called MOST: Mission, Objectives, Strategy, and Tactics. There are many other similar systems, often with slightly different definitions, so I'll explain what I mean as I go along.

But keep in mind that what strategic planning is all about, regardless of the number or type of steps, is going from a big idea to a minutely-planned dance that ensures that X number of feet are on the ground doing what they're supposed to be doing at the right time in the right place.

Some strategic planners like to come up with a vision before they decide on a mission. Vision is the broad dream of the future, and GetEqual's "About" page lists the organization's vision in paragraph 2:

We envision a society in which LGBTQ people are truly equal, without caveat or compromise, and in which we build bridges with all who struggle for justice and dignity in their lives.

Sounds good, and I like it.

The same page, paragraph 1, lists the organization's mission. Mission is the grounded "this is what we will accomplish." Some mission statements are fairly specific, and some less so, but all have the quality of listing what the organization's function is. Here are some examples of non-profit mission statements from Missionstatement.com

The Nonprofit Finance Fund is a community development financial institution that offers financing, loans, as well as technical and planning assistance to nonprofit subsectors. Working together with other financial institutions, the Nonprofit Finance Fund services nonprofits in Washington, the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, New Jersey, New England, etc.

Headquartered in Kirkland, WA, American Antigravity is a non-profit organization that offers support and services to scientists and inventors who work to achieve new knowledge in certain disciplines. They do so in order to encourage newfound information, and to aid people learn more about the emerging science & technology.

To strengthen communities in rural Minnesota, especially the Grand Rapids.

Here is GetEqual's mission:

Our mission is to empower the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community and our allies to take action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way.

This mission statement specifies that GetEqual is not about taking actions themselves (though they may take actions from time to time), but to empower others to take action to demand full equality. Also, they will hold accountable those who stand in the way.

There are no specifics here about what "full legal and social equality," "taking actions," or "holding accountable" mean, nor should there be. That comes in the objectives.

I'm jazzed reading this, because I believe that this empowerment of others is a key to making a difference in this big country of ours. No small organization can do it alone.

But what milestones do we need to pass to get from point A to point B?

Objectives

The milestones are generally called the objectives. The mission is about empowering others to take actions, and holding accountable standers-in-the-way.

GetEqual's "About" page mentions a number of areas of LGBTQ inequality in its statement. These could be translated into objectives, as follows:

GetEqual's objectives include equality for LGBTQ people in these areas:

as working people
as members of the military
as families
as immigrants
as students
as taxpayers
as citizens

These areas begin to specify what "full legal and social equality" means. These also begin to show how to quantify specific, measurable results. The way to do this is to look at the measures of these areas now, and to see if they are moving in the right direction. There could be many measures, but the important thing is to identify the ones that GetEqual will use, and to continue to measure results on the same scale.

What's missing from these objectives are the specific, measurable results. It's not enough to say that our objective is full equality as citizens. It's unclear what that means. There's no way to measure progress. There's no way to know if we're going backwards or forwards or when we have arrived.

For example, looking at equality as working people, one measure could be the number of people covered by nondiscrimination law. If the number is currently one-third of the US population, GetEqual will know that the objectives are being accomplished if that number moves to 50%. The objective will not, by its stated terms, be accomplished until the number moves to 100%. However, it is important to know whether the objective is moving in the right direction or not.

That should not be the only measure of the objective, because "equality as working people" is a fairly robust concept. Being equal as a working person means not only having equal opportunity under the law, but also actual access to that opportunity, as well as wages, terms and conditions of employment that are equal to other people on the same level. If ENDA were passed, for example, that would only prohibit the most obvious and overt forms of discrimination and harassment. There are more subtle forms of discrimination. This is very obvious in two areas of discrimination that have had laws on the books for 40 years.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discrimination on the basis of race and sex. The Equal Pay Act prohibits paying women less than men for the same job. Nonetheless, most African-Americans are in the bottom two quintiles in terms of income distribution, and women receive 80 cents on the dollar for the same jobs as men. "Law" mean "rule," and rules are tricky things. Like the well-known joke about the person granted three wishes by a very literal genie, resulting in unintended consequences by a poor wish-maker, the desired effects of these laws often have been hung up on overly literal interpretations and proof requirements.

"Equality as working people" would not only cover formal equality as found in law on the books, but substantive equality as measured by similarities between average distributions and LGBTQ distributions in the areas of income, benefits, unemployment, underemployment and harassment.

GetEqual does not have to be the sole cause of the objective's movement or accomplishment, and that would be impossible to determine. Any social change has a myriad of factors that contribute. However, GetEqual must contribute to one of the factors that underlie the change. It can't sit back in its easy chair and celebrate change if it is to be a credible organization. It must be able to point to something that it did that contributed to the change.

That something is where strategy comes in.

Strategy

Strategy is the plan to move the objectives. Let's look again at the first objective mentioned above: equality as working people. For example, in order to pass a law, we need to schedule a vote, and get enough Congressmembers to vote in favor, and have the President sign it.

Let me take ENDA as an example. One objective could be passing ENDA into law. There are lots of Congressmembers in favor of ENDA, who we can count on to vote yes, and we know who they are. There are also lots of them not in favor of ENDA, who we can count on to vote no, and we know who they are. Then there are the ones on the fence. We know who they are as well. The key to strategy is to work with the ones on the fence.

What makes a Congressmember vote a particular way? For those with no strong ideological stance, the keys are showing that it's the right thing to do, that a majority of people in the district want it, and that the political insider constituency of the district wants them to do it. It's not enough to have only one of these in place.

That's why "call your Congressmember" is not a sufficient strategy, even though it's a necessary part of this.

First, that it's the right thing to do: we must be ready with talking points and examples that show it's right and demolish the other side's objections.

Second, that it has broad community support: we must have accurate polling within the target districts and a large active constituency in the district that is ready to make their opinions known.

Third, that it's supported by the insiders: we must connect with the political insiders who have a say in that Congressmember's vote, and work with them so that they are willing to make the pitch to the Congressmember.

While the example I use is ENDA, I believe the same is true of any strategy in pretty much any organization: It's right, it has broad community support, and it's supported by other key insiders. It works whether you're trying to get an LGBT-friendly church to be welcoming and inclusive, or to get your organization to give you money to start a program, or to have a successful birthday party.

Objectives could include:

  • empowering one million people to write their legislators to advocate for federal and/or state laws
  • empowering people in forty key districts to elect LGBT allies
  • empowering people to get favorable statements and actions from one thousand local political organizations, places of worship, or other LGBT friendly organizations.
  • holding one hundred politicians accountable by holding a march against actions
  • holding 10 LGBT leaders accountable by issuing a statement denouncing a failure to act
  • holding one hundred religious leaders accountable by church members holding a protest

Notice that each objective contains a number. Without a statement of quantity, an objective is unmeasurable and unaccountable.

The organization must be willing to fail in these objectives, and to redouble their efforts or reduce the target. If there can be no failure, there can be no success. A vague objective is worse than none at all.

The objectives I listed here are examples. I do not suggest them as real objectives. I have done no research on these issues, and they spring entirely from my own head on a frowzy Sunday morning at my kitchen table. "Planning" means not only setting a target, but doing research to know that the target is important, attainable and feasible.

It's more than putting brown butcher paper on the walls and writing big with magic markers. That can help, and I've done it myself, but it needs to be refined by people who know the subject area intimately and who have experience in planning.

Tactics

The last part is the tactics: the who does what when.

This part is the hardest to set up well. Mission, objectives and strategy are all a piece of cake compared to this. This is where most strategic planning fouls up, in my opinion.

There isn't enough thinking about how to make a stated strategy really happen. Instead, there's a lot of loose talk about what might work if the planets aligned exactly right. That's no good.

You need to assume that 90% of your tactics won't work and that 10% of them is enough to seal the deal. That's if you really want that "Mission Accomplished" sign to mean something when you string it across the battleship.

Tactics: Showing It's Right

First, in regard to showing it's right: it's not enough to have a list of talking points. Your organization and your supporters must know them cold. They must understand how to use them when someone questions them. It's got to be clear and automatic. That means they have to be short and focused and clear and devastating. That means you have to repeat them over and over again to supporters, and continually find more examples of real life situations that make them real to the supporters.

This is part of the function of rallies. Rallies are not designed to put pressure on the grass, as Barney Frank so infamously put it. They are designed to educate your supporters in what they are supposed to know and to do in order to accomplish the thing they're out there marching for.

Speakers need to be carefully chosen, as they must be on board with the mission, objectives and strategy, and they must also know the talking points cold. Their job is not to whip the crowd into a frenzy, though that helps, but to communicate certain key ideas and actions.

These ideas and actions must be simple and communicable to a large population, some of whom are highly educated and some of whom are not. This is why slogans are important. These slogans must be carefully designed to communicate both ideas and actions.

In addition, after the rally, there must be some place that the more highly motivated supporters can go to get reinforcement and to report their actions. It could be a center, it could be a meeting, it could be a conference call, it could be an online site. Most of the meetings, calls and sites that I see are a waste of time, because they do not fulfill this function. They are agendaless, or led by someone who cannot drive an agenda and create consensus while doing it, meandering, cluttered and unclear.

Tactics: Showing Broad Community Support

Second, that it has broad community support: we must have accurate polling within the target districts and a large active constituency in the district that is ready to make their opinions known. Polling does not have to be expensive, though it helps to have money. What's more important is that they are carefully designed to be clear and to capture the precise opinion that counts. Forty question polls are a waste of time. You don't need more than five questions to get the information you need, if you know how to ask questions. If you try to capture all the irrrelevant information under the sun, 100 questions aren't enough. I teach social research methods, and while I don't claim to be the best pollster there ever was, I know what's good and what's junk. A lot of what I see is junk.

Also, on this point, we must have a large group that's willing to make their opinions known. They might be participating in letter-writing, phone-banking, going door to door, or town hall meetings with legislators. They might be attending meetings with various constituencies like church groups, civil rights groups, unions, corporate executives, or trade-group associations. They might be going to rallies, marches, sit-ins, or other forms of civil disobedience.

How does one get a large group? An email list or phone list of potential participators helps. Then, one must activate the list by asking for what actions people are willing to take, and give them examples of five actions that they can sign on to. This requires careful, clear, simple writing. Next, the responses need to be culled to determine the high-level participators. Those people need to be contacted first to get them into headquarters for training. These are the people who are going to need to each enroll 50 people to come to one of the participatory events. They need to know what's available for people to attend, who to target, how to size people up to determine their level of participation, how to excite people enough to enroll them in the idea, how to make the "ask," and how to keep them producing until the event.

Tactics: Insider Support

For this part, you need people who know the insiders, even slightly. For large constituencies, insiders are skilled at avoiding personal contact with the masses, and that means you. "Knowing" the insiders could be a personal friendship, or being "friend of a friend (and I don't mean on Facebook). It could also be having a connection to the insider's prep school or college, an organization they belong to, like a church, or to a group that provided important political support.

For example, I don't have any friends who are national political insiders. But I am a member of a union, and that leader has a connection with my temple, and a friend of my ex has a friend who knows that leader. I emailed the union leader's office, mentioning my connections, and had a callback the next day from an aide. I was able to have a conversation with that aide and move the organization's support on ENDA up several notches.

I've also used this type of thing effectively in the past to get jobs.

People often don't realize that they can reach insiders. They need training on how to think about their connections in order to leverage them. They also need to be trained and empowered to act on these connections. It's not always obvious how to do it.

Conclusion

In writing up my thoughts on strategic planning, I don't mean to imply that GetEqual should do it my way. Nor do I imply that they need to be able to do all these things at the same time. In some instances, they may want to partner with other organizations, publicly or sub rosa, in order to ensure that their actions are effective in the larger context.

However, I do believe that a strategic plan should look something like this. And my plan is too short.

It mentions examples of the types of objectives, strategies and tactics, but doesn't specify which ones will be used.

A real plan would specify that there will be a rally in Little Rock at 123 Main Street on September 3 at 4 pm, with the purpose of communicating A, B, and C, that local organizations D, E, and F will participate by doing G, H and I, that contacts with media organizations J, K and L will be kept up continuously to keep them apprised of progress, that the offices of politicians and insiders M, N and O will also be kept apprised of progress, and that the progress of these tactics will be monitored by expecting targets P, Q and R to be met by July 3, and August 3 without fail.

A full-blown strategic plan could easily run to hundreds of pages. That could take a lot of time that might be better spent on getting into action. Most long-term strategic plans evolve over time, and do not spring into existence overnight.

I believe that it is important, however, that the plan contain clear objectives, strategies and tactics with specific, measurable results. A vague idea consisting only of tactics, like holding rallies and sit-ins, would not be sufficient, in my opinion.

GetEqual could decide to concentrate initially on one or two objectives, strategies or tactics. In that way, it would have a clear plan to start with, and additional planning could occur over time. That would have the advantage of allowing inclusion of progress measurements to determine whether the objectives, strategies and tactics are satisfactory. This would allow the planning to take progress data about specific, measurable results into account.

I don't expect GetEqual to release all these details to the public, of course. But I'd like to see them release a public plan that communicates their basic mission, objectives, strategy and tactics. That would help members of the LGBT community and allies to decide whether or not to get on board with the organization's actions. Some would, of course, criticize the plan, but the key thing is to produce thousands of people willing to help.

Without broad-based community involvement, no organization can prosper.

I am very hopeful about GetEqual, and I believe they can make a huge difference in moving our rights forward.


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Very well done. Thoughtful. It should have been explored before the stunts began.

Now, I really believe they need to give YOU the $89,000 prize. Perhaps, I should start demanding that.

Thank you for your kind words, Andrew, but this isn't about money or prizes. The only prize that counts is obtaining equality for our people. I think that it is fair to say that our movement is failing badly, and we need to hammer that message home, and figure out why and how to refocus. Personally, I think that the policy of incrementalism is what has stalled and divided our movement. While I am all in favor of practicality when it works, anyone who calls themselves a pragmatist must realize that our "practical" move of chopping up LGBT rights into little bits and hoping that we can spoon feed it is a dismal failure. I was told by our leaders that our rights can be achieved by making a lot of concessions in ENDA and lobbying our Congressmembers. They did not want to do any education on difficult issues, and called me a loose cannon for wanting to do it. They said to trust them because they're the experts.

It turns out that the Republicans were not our worst enemies. It was the Democratic leadership and the LGBT leadership.

Small ideas create incrementalism. The problem is with politics you only get "hope." Political "promises" are rarely kept.

We won't hear anything about GetEQUAL's strategy or plans until after their "Summer Camp" this month. It's clear they didn't do any of the planning and thoughtful consideration you outlined above. Let's hope they have Chaperones.

I'm glad Bilerico and others are now analyzing methods, tactics and strategies. Until we determine what actually works - and design a strategy with sufficient resources, we'll just keep trying everything. When we figure out how to WIN, we'll reignite a real, sustainable movement. It will require changing minds and getting people to join us.

I think your efforts have been very helpful. There are no "experts" in the LGBT Community. There are a few people that some people follow, but that's only because it's all we've got right now. Any "expert" would figure out how to get the 90% of our community, that does not contribute or participate, to get in the game. That's our biggest challenge.

Admittedly i have yet to find time to read your article in its entirety and plan on doing that as soon as I can. In your introduction your points keenly noted by one who has been somewhat of a critic of the entire LGBT non-movement. (My opinion)
Get Equal is falling into the same category as yet another member of a cottage industry that has as their domain, aspects of our civil rights. Each own a piece defined by specific and piecemeal legislation, serving in effect to cannibalize us as a movement.

I do believe that out of all the activists I have yet to see any strategy for a WHOLE movement. I have called for this and spoken about it at conferences - what I call a PINK PRINT - you can find it on Lezgetreal - what is missing is a Universal Benchmark - and the only one that can makes sense for a movement is one that has as its GOAL the addition of the words "sexual orientation and gender identity" into the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We have failed to define ourselves as a true civil rights movement.

So until we are ALL willing to work in unity with one voice - we will not be an effective movement. I too in my work always work backwards from what i want to accomplish and you are right its imperative to be clear on all the steps you lay out.

However A plan/ strategy for one group- without a commitment to the WHOLE - to a Universal benchmark on the part of ALL the Groups sets us up for yet another schism in the (non)movement.

I think we have a problem where we have a number of effective lobbying organizations, and a number of effective legal organization, but no large scale grassroots organizing organization. Sometimes blogs complain about for example HRC not doing grassroots work, but really that's not HRC's job and when they try to do it they're not very good at it. Someone else needs to pick up that job. We need an lgbt MoveOn, or more to the point we need an organization to take the kinds of things Courage Campaign has been trying to do with LGBT organizing in California and take it national. I think Jillian gives a quite good blueprint here for a group like this.

I do not think GetEQUAL is capable of being that organization, and even if they were I don't think they want to be. They've started out out of the gate doing everything possible to divide the community, and created a lot of unnecessary bad blood with people who they've permanently convinced they're not a group to work with. That doesn't preclude them from doing useful things, but it's not what you need if you specifically want to create something MoveOn-like for "everybody in together" organizing. Meanwhile GetEQUAL's own description of why they're useful has more to do with the need for outside agitators, they seem to have established they'd rather pressure insiders than build relationships with them. If that's something that's useful, then trying to be a big consensus organization or an organization that works with insiders as Jillian suggests would make that goal more or less impossible. They would probably rather keep their freedom to do edgy, risky things.

Very true. I have become very unpopular by expressing the need for us to figure out HOW to WIN, not just FIGHT or SURVIVE. I believe much of the criticism is based in a fear that a group may lose funding because they cannot justify their methods, tactics and strategies after an honest, objective analysis of what serves our community best. Salary beats honesty too many times in the non-profit sector.

The most GetEQUAL has ever said about their purpose is that they are "not HRC." Because of the frustration with HRC, this simple (but, strategically useless) assertion rings true for some. It isn't enough to be anti-HRC or any other organization. GetEQUAL needs to have a purpose that makes sense and creates results.

I have had dozens of meetings across the country looking for ideas and strategies to WIN. Ironically, this battle can be won if we stop fighting. What is clear for anyone that pays attention to the totality of the Movement (as it appears you do) there is NO strategy. It's difficult to even hold methods or tactics accountable.

Some have suggested it is a "lack of leadership" and I believe that may be part of the dynamic, but ideas and strategies can lead. In fact, I think we are better off relying on a comprehensive strategy and each other.

The most telling reality of the current state of our Movement is the lack of participation. Less than 10% of our community donates or participates. In order to win we must change that. Decades of anger and frustration, coupled with false hopes (Bill Clinton), have most of our community disenchanted and disinterested. The only way to inspire and ignite a real, sustainable movement requires a verifiable strategy that can determine HOW and WHEN we will achieve our full equality.

The cultural conversation may do the work for us - if we want to wait until 2040, a time when the majority of Americans will support our full equality. Or, we can hasten that result in just a few short years. We start that effort by being honest and objective (accountability) about everything we do or support financially.

It is not only fair to question methods, tactics, strategies and organizations, it is necessary. It's not a question of "trust," either - it is simply about understanding. I don't trust HRC and I don't think anyone should. I know what they do and I have suggested their lobbying efforts are ineffective. I don't trust GetEQUAL either. Like others, I have tried to make sense of their high-profile in-your-face angry stunts and I repeatedly question "how" they help us. Soon, they may decide to figure that out and share their rationale. I would have preferred they did that before embarrassing us.

Ultimately, I believe we need to get people to join us (and before Bill Perdue says "begging doesn't work") I am suggesting we transform our selves from a numerical minority to a powerful majority. That requires asking and inviting. Data indicates that two-thirds of Americans will join us and will take a stand for equality, yet we do virtually nothing about that.

HRC lobbies politicians and ignores the people. GetEQUAL embarrasses the politicians and ignores the people. We NEED the people to succeed.

I started my effort nearly a year ago after asking HRC for their "strategy." They didn't have one. 30 years and +$550 million and still no strategy? Perhaps that's why I'm not surprised that GetEQUAL has no strategy - nobody else does.

Until we decide to figure out how to win, we will continue to simply fight for attention and resources. If we can drop our own "self-interest" long enough to be objective, we CAN figure out how to enroll the rest of our community. They're waiting to "win," not just contribute or wear a cool t-shirt or enjoy a fancy dinner party.

I appreciate your comment and I hope it leads to the kind of serious and productive conversation you have suggested.

This comment was directed at Melanie Nathan.

Thanks Andrew. I am not sure if you have read any of my work. I am really clear on what needs to happen and in fact devised my "bluePrint" which i called the Pink Print. It is on the web news magazine www.lezgetreal.com - I am not sure of your full identity and if you would like more information about my work, please feel free to contact me via facebook and we can continue the dialogue. Melanie Nathan.

Thank-you. I'l have a look and contact you.

Let's hope somebody from GetEQUAL thanks Jillian for her effort here and takes organizing seriously. Maybe they can give the community some reassurance that they value our collective efforts.

Andrew, like your posts. My take on why LGBT don't participate is that there is a significant disconnect between the priorities of the professional homosexuals at the nonprofits and the desires of queers at large.

Military and marriage campaigns were never the burning issues for most of us. Yet they've dominated our agenda for the past 20 years, causing more damage with the string of losses than the sparse wins have gained us.

Why would anyone want to participate when their views are not considered when setting prioritie and the choice of those unpopular campaigns sets the movement back measurably in the face of increasing support amongst the general population?

I just want them to be more transparent about what their actual goals are other than warm fuzzy language that doesn't tell us anything. One person says they're a campaign, another an official org. No one has the same idea of what they're about other than the Kumbaya mission statement. It all just reeks of inadequacy and desperate grabs for relevance.

The you should keep asking those questions, Bil, because you're apparently the only writer at Bilerico who the GetEqual leadership considers worthy of answering.

Maybe when they return from their Summer "Retreat" they'll have some answers.

Perhaps the superstars amongst activists within the activist community at GetEqual should have gone on a listening tour to figure out what the communities want instead of going on a talking tour and telling us that they're going to lead us out of our morass?

What's left out of this discussion is that a new group has to exist within the political ecology of what already exists.

Once upon a time, there was a tacit collaboration between the insider groups, largely nonprofits, and the outsider groups, largely street activists.

Street activists had scared power to the extent that insiders had more freedom to secure not just what they'd proposed, but to take take terrain in the political space which had been expanded by the street activists.

This phenomenon is known as "The Overton Window."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window

Demands are only taken as seriously as the politicians, allies, undecided and opponents alike, are scared for their political lives.

The Political ecology must change - that can only happen when a movement becomes real and universal not incremental and reticent.

MARCOS, you are absolutely correct. That has been fostered by the LGBT non profit organizations keeping their energy and eye on the elite base - which serves the coffers.

They have pretty much ignored the street! Now the street is begging for its Messiah., They have derogated from the power and turned the movement inward instead of outward.

Again we must assert Universal Benchmark - Equality = Amend Civil Rights Act . PERIOD! Fragmented messaging - bill by bill - creates the Political ecology that does not serve us. we can change that.

That Messiah can be Facebook - if you get what I mean. That is why blogging is so useful now. If the organizations had any ability to step out of their containment, they could hone in - but unfortunately it will have to come fro the street itself and then watch - all the LGBT groups will be there claiming first prize.

That's okay. As long as we get our equality,

Er, that's really not what the Overton Window is about. If GetEqual were pushing the Overton Window to the left, they would be demanding quotas while HRC demands ENDA. It's about goals, not emotion.

We must revisit the decision to abandon an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that guarantees LGBT full civil rights in favor of an incremental approach.

Much has changed since that decision was made in the 1980s to the extent that the assumptions that underlain it are no longer valid.

We have learned that there are pitfalls in a piecemeal approach, where energies are diverted to a variety of different campaigns, some of which are contradictory and divisive.

We should revisit the big cahuna, to leverage the significant increase in public support to amend the Civil Rights act to ensure that no discrimination against LGBT be permitted and that remedies for appropriate discrimination are provided.

Otherwise, the incremental approach is just fodder for the nonprofiteers to continue to get paid while queers face discrimination that ends baby steps at a time over a long time.

Interesting discussion. I have been writing extensively on Lezgetreal about Amending the Civil Rights Act. Imagine if Dr, MLK Jnr had asked for legislation that allowed people of color to serve in the military (DADT) and then asked for an ENDA - there would be no Civil Rights Act! No Bechmark - no Equality. That simple. The incremental piecemeal approach was considered in the 80's as a backdoor in approach.

With the development of media and technology the back door is closed - there is no squirming and hiding - which now only perpetuates our self professed marginalization.

The organizations have failed to stop and take stock in a unified fashion. There loyalty to their group and their claimed piece of the legislative pie, prevents transparency and unity.

Hence it is up to us the Independent Activists to assert a swell from beneath the footstomp of the emerging EQUALITY grassroots movement. The Bloggers and the Sloggers- it is up to us to get people onto the streets in a unified push for Universal message.

If the organizations want to join in they would be more than welcome and yes they must continue their fight for bits n' piece legislation.

But a movement must form organically now with one voice and one goal - AMEND CIVIL RIGHTS ACT - this is the last frontier. Wake up Bloggers and Sloggers. If you type melanie nathan into the search at www.lezgetreal.com you will see the extent to which I have written about this. I am also about to publish my speech from Equality Across America in Austin last month.

Orthogonal to this discussion of amending the civil rights act versus incrementalism is the issue of transgender inclusion.

The time to win people over to a position is not during an election or as a vote comes near, rather between elections and between votes.

If we are to get all civil rights for everyone, then the issue of educating swing voters to support trans inclusion has to share star billing with the amendment to the civil rights act.

Trans folks are going to have to take the lead in organizing a full court press that does the education work, which is different than LGB work which has been completed, to get the goods.

Most LGB would gladly help; it is as much of a mistake to equate a tactical decision to move forward with LGB ENDA after failed efforts at support for T with transphobia as it would be to assert that demands for holding back until T get the votes is homophobic.

But that is the other elephant in the room that had to be dealt with.

Melanie and Marcos:

Great comments. This exchange of ideas, coupled with an emphasis on winning and accountability, hasn't happened in the history of the LGBT Movement.

I'm not sure we should be divided over "priorities." If victory means social and political equality ALL of our issues would be addressed. Amending the Civil Rights Act provides "equal rights" via protections and not understanding. Removing bigotry (in at least the majority of people) is better than outlawing it. It's been 45 years and still about one-third of Americans admit to being racist. Also, laws don't give us the power of a majority that can marginalize and politically dismiss the bigots and racists. I'm not saying don't amend the Civle Rights Act, but I would rather be equal than protected.

I've spent a lot in the last 9 months on research and purchasing ideas. The data proves that two-thirds of America will support our full equality. Demonstrating that reality (polling, etc.) will change every dynamic associated with being LGBT.

It becomes clear that the path to victory cannot be walked alone, or demanded in the streets, or won politically - it requires our individual efforts to come out and to get America to come around to support our full equality.

The cultural conversation is changing the way we are perceived, but it will take another 30 years before it will significant;y effect (and show up ) in polling. I suggest we figure out how to speed up that process. Ideas and strategies are being developed to accomplish that in just a few years.

I have never heard an LGBT Advocacy Organization or an Activist say "this is how we can win." Never. It is usually this is how "we can fight" or how "we can make a difference" or how "we can influence" or just how "we can contribute." That's because they haven't figured out HOW to WIN. They may be good at getting attention or raising money, but they are not about winning.

That changes soon. Accountability is a good first step. What works and how do each of the tactics, methods and strategies work towards the same goal.

Sooner or later we ALL need to own this Movement and stop deferring to professional advocates or angry activists. WE need to do this. A clear and compelling strategy will enable that. When WE understand HOW and WHEN we can WIN, that will ignite a real, sustainable and successful Movement. It's coming.

What is so annoying to me, admittedly, is that if someone would just read the myriads of articles on Lezgetreal - for an entire year now- one would find the answer. It is not a win lose question. Yes Jillian is correct about strategy and the organizational aspects. But when you have self appointed leadership competing for non profit dollars who want to claim every inch of the path as their exclusive win - you will never get a strategy that anyone can agree on.

Keep you eye on Lezgetreal- something very new is about to happen. - Bottom line - BENCHMARK!!!!! We have yet as a movement defined our benchmark - hence NO MOVEMENT! The movement is forming and it is NOT GETEQUAL - although they would be welcome to join as would everyone. It is organic and it is almost ready to happen....

Heather C | June 10, 2010 8:40 AM

Beautiful, Jillian. As usual, you've created a really constructive post that pushes our community and our movement forward. I'm exceedingly grateful, and all of us at GetEQUAL absolutely take these recommendations to heart. Thank you.

David Stevens GetEqual Indiana | October 18, 2010 10:11 PM

I think its a grave mistake to sit behind a computer and critize people who are just trying to stand up for gay rights around the country. You should watch the PBS documentary about us. You should also remember that each state is different, some use arrest techniques, some don't. I have been called too "thugish" to represent the gay community in Indy. I'm not representing anyone but my group GetEqual IN. If you don't like how things are going, start your own Civil Rights Group with a Gay lawyer along your side. Freedom of Speech, hate speech, death threats. Equals =True Activist = writing a paper about rules and regulations in tiny print? = lame.

David Stevens | November 6, 2010 2:52 AM

enda lobbying each senator and congressman in each state is a great idea and something we have started in Indiana first with Joe Donnelly. I believe he can be moved on it eventually. He calls himself a moderate and afterall did vote for healthcare. Maybe I'm just wishful thinking but thats the idea your right. I also think on a small community level partnering up with the blacks and latino's when they have bad shit go down in their community is not a bad idea as well. Showing up to help them protest something with our bull horns and a promise to come back; making deals , I scratch your back, you scratch the gay community's back. it's called community organizing. Easier said than done I know.