GetEqual, the nonviolent direct action organization that seeks to empower the LGBT community and allies to take bold action to demand full legal and social equality, sprang up at a particular time in history: March 2010.
But the political environment has now shifted radically. We all had high hopes for legislative change in a Democratic Administration with a filibuster-proof majority. GetEqual gave voice to those who were not willing to see the promise of full equality given away by slippery politicians without speaking up about it.
GetEqual has spent most of its time and effort trying to hold the Democratic Party and politicians accountable. But that party had made promises about LGBT equality legislation.
Republicans have not made any promises about that, and, indeed, their platform is to vigorously oppose LGBT equality. For what can one hold them "accountable?"
Is GetEqual relevant in the new political environment?
Yes, it is deeply relevant. In fact, now more than ever.
Disclosure: The author is on the Board of Directors of GetEqual.
It is true that Republican politicians are largely against LGBT equality.
But that is not true of the majority of their constituents.
Two-thirds of Americans support marriage equality or civil unions.
Almost 80% favor repeal of DADT.
While there's not a lot of national polling on non-discrimination law, it seems that a majority support it, even in very conservative states, and even among Republicans.
While it's true that Republican politicians have made no promises about LGBT equality, their constituents support it. That disconnect needs to be pointed up, loudly and clearly and consistently.
A majority of Americans support LGBT equality, including Republicans, but Republican politicians aren't hearing that. They're hearing from the loud anti-gay forces who are hell-bent on religious domination.
They need to hear from others that prejudice and discrimination have no place in a country that promises equal protection of the laws. Americans need to realize that we aren't going to keep silent about anti-LGBT prejudice and discrimination.
Who's going to speak up and make the media and the politicians and the American people take notice?
It's not going to be HRC. I have great regard for HRC, but their business model is working for as much incremental change as they can get in whatever political environment exists. I'm glad they're doing what they're doing, but they have increasingly less breathing room.
The Task Force, NCLR, NCTE, Lambda Legal and other organizations are also doing good behind-the-scenes work. But their core missions are not about getting into the media with bold assertions of LGBT rights.
As the Republican politicians begin to assert more and more pressure, flexing their new muscles, and testing out their anti-gay rhetoric, we in the LGBT community are going to feel more and more squashed.
Will we begin to speak up about it? Or will we recede into the shadows, to wait for 2016?
Will we push back against the forces of intolerance? Or will we retreat to live in the echoes of our shadowy past of homophobia and transphobia?
Who will channel our anger? Who will channel our desire to breathe the air of a free people? Who will confront the anti-gay politicians and challenge them to accord us the respect due to human beings?
The fact is that GetEqual is more relevant now than ever. We need an organization that is dedicated to speaking up loudly about LGBTQ rights, confronting politicians, and alerting the media that we will not go quietly.
I know that some oppose this idea. But those who believe that playing nicely will get us everything we need have been shown to be sorely mistaken. Confronting injustice is not easy, and it always encourages backlash, and it's not clearly correlatable to specific gains. But it is a necessary precondition to freedom.
Power concedes nothing without a struggle. One deserving of rights must assert their rights; they will not be granted.
GetEqual is more relevant than ever in the new political environment.