Political representation comes at a price. You have to go along to get along. When LGBT organizations started demanding that politicians pass ENDA, repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, and repeal DOMA, politicians started running for the exits. All three of these bills were declared D.O.A. in the last session of Congress. Our major lobbying organizations folded.
And then along came GetEqual.
Whatever you may say about it, GetEqual does not take it lying down. Without GetEqual and Dan Choi and 12 other brave souls chaining themselves to the White House Fence, not once, but twice, and ready to do it a third and fourth and fifth, we would not have seen DADT repeal in Congress.
If you're a supporter of the idea of an effective LGBT direct action organization, one that isn't afraid to speak truth to power and kick 'em where it hurts when and if necessary, why aren't you pulling out your credit card and clicking here to donate? This is not a rhetorical question.
Right-wing fanatics have big money behind them to send their message of discrimination. Why shouldn't we have an equally loud and clear message? That message is "Discrimination is wrong. We will not be silent."
What GetEqual has accomplished in one year is startling. What it will accomplish next year is amazing.
GetEqual has more than proven its usefulness to the community, time and again. It's been primarily funded by a generous man, Jonathan Lewis, and his family, who didn't want to see us go down without a fight. Now it's time for the community to speak up and be heard.
In its first year, GetEqual helped launch and participated in almost 50 different direct action operations, and empowered thousands of activists who engaged in direct actions. National, local and community media have carried the GetEqual message far and wide. Our Executive Director, Robin McGehee, a young mother with two children, has created these campaigns on a very reasonable budget to great effect. Her bang-to-buck ratio is extremely high.
Here's the 2010 recap video:
In its next year, GetEqual will focus on working directly with local activists around the country, focusing on direct action as a tool to create change on the local and state level. We provide training and support and, most importantly, the knowledge that many, many others around the country are on board and behind them 100%. We have a well thought out plan, due to be released soon, and some funding commitments. But we're not home free.
GetEqual also has a sophisticated grasp of change theory and the means, the resources and the will to engage in the actions necessary. It is radically inclusive, correctly understanding the LGBT community as a coalition at the intersections of many communities of many races, ethnicities, classes, genders, sexualities, religions, ages, and abilities.
Well I know that there are many critics of GetEqual, and many worthy organizations. But for me, the importance of GetEqual that puts it at the top of my list lies in the kind of person I am. I will not go down without a fight. I will not let the people around me go down without my voice having been heard to speak the truth. I cannot remain silent when I see the injustice and the unfairness and the lack of protection for my community.
Our community is unequal in so many ways: few employment protections, rampant housing discrimination, immigration discrimination, unequal and derogatory treatment from physicians and pharmacists, no civil marriage, interference with adoption rights, denial of military and marriage benefits for trans people -- the list is far too long.
Politicians often do too little, too late, and our lives are not a priority. I will not, and cannot, be silent in the face of the people who call me every week, begging for help after harassment at work, after being mistreated by the system, being left powerless -- often destitute -- and depressed in body and soul. Young people are the most affecting, and my heart bleeds when I talk to youth who have been thrown out of their homes and into the streets to face want and danger. I want to help everyone in fear and danger, but I cannot do it one at a time and get very far. I'm overextended as it is, but I am absolutely, completely and totally committed to our community. GetEqual goes where I cannot.
It is imperative to have an organization that speaks truth to power. GetEQUAL is such an organization, and one I strongly believe in. That's why I'm on the Board of Directors. I've put my money on the line and spend my free time working to let the politicians know that our lives and our rights should not play second-fiddle to every up and down of the economy -- and that, when the economy sinks, as it has now, we shouldn't be at the bottom of the barrel.
I know that some of you don't like GetEqual, shrug your shoulders, think it's hokey, or another HRC, or don't believe in direct action. I'm not talking to you. I'm also not speaking to the people who are having economic problems. I'm not asking for you to give up the roof over your head.
I'm speaking to those of you who believe in the power of direct action, of speaking up, of telling the truth, of not being a silent victim. I'm talking to those of you who have resources, and who believe that our community must not be silent in the face of a rising tide of homophobia and biphobia and transphobia. I've donated my time and my money, as have hundreds of others, to ensure that our message is heard. I'd like to make sure that it is heard loud and clear. We will not be silent about the discrimination we face daily.
Note: Jillian Weiss is on the Board of GetEqual. She is also a host of the D.C. fundraiser on Sunday, March 20 at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. You may contact her here if you are interested in learning more.