Juan Ahonen-Jover, Ph.D., describes himself as "an entrepreneur who did well and is now doing good." Half of a two-man activist factory, Juan and his life partner, Ken Ahonen-Jover, founded eQualityGiving, ActOnPrinciples, eQualityThinking, and Loving Everywhere. Juan Ahonen-Jover also helped draft the Omnibus Bill and the Dallas Principles, gay manifestos "focused on the fundamental principle that everyone should be treated equally under the law."
Ahonen-Jover's latest project is The Gay Agenda, an activist manual that he describes as "a comprehensive guidebook for achieving legal equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. The only book like it, it's updated yearly with specific action plans for that year." The Gay Agenda 2012: All Out was the first book in the series, followed by this year's The Gay Agenda 2013: All In. The book series is for people who believe in the principle of equal protection under the law that's a core bedrock of our Constitution.
According to Ahonen-Jover, the 2012 edition was being finalized by the time that President Obama announced his evolution on marriage equality.
Many parts of the book had to be rewritten at that time. It was very well-known that Ken and I did not give to the presidential campaign because of Obama's discriminatory beliefs. Many people followed our position. Within minutes of his announcement, we gave $10,000 to the presidential campaign. The next day, the New York Times had a lead article on Obama's evolution and we were prominently quoted (we were the only donors quoted). We understand that the article was widely read and many people followed our lead. So there was lots of interest of what the book would say about the presidential campaign and other battles. In that sense, I believe that the book was impactful.
Ahonen-Jover tells me that the book "describes the gay agenda for 2013 in detail - what it is, and how and why LGBT people and others want to change the United States (and the world)." As in previous years, chapters have been updated, added, and removed as necessary.
Part I describes what "LGBT" means and the arguments used to deny equal treatment under the law to this group of people. Part II discusses in detail what Ahonen-Jover sees as the gay agenda, including the goals to be achieved. He sees 5 important areas of focus for the LGBT movement this year:
- Advancing marriage equality in the states
- the Supreme Court
- more work in the states
- the White House
"In the first one [marriage equality] we are doing very well, Ahonen-Jover says. "I think that we could do more on the other four."
The author says that we currently have full legal equality in only two states, Connecticut and Vermont. Even states that have approved marriage recently, like Rhode Island and Delaware, have only a 58% rating for LGBT equality, including marriage. "It is really not too difficult to get full equality -- especially after these states adopted marriage equality," Ahonen-Jover says, "but we need to focus on it. Let's get 20 states (and DC) to full equality [in 2013]!"
Ahonen-Jover also believes the White House needs to do more for equality than just fundraise off of the President's record thus far. While that worked during the re-election campaign, Ahonen-Jover says LGBT people are expecting more this time around.
That was last year. This year he has to do much more than just mention us in his inaugural speech or the State of the Union Address... The president has proven to be an advocate, but not yet the "fierce advocate" that he claims to be. He needs to sign the nondiscrimination executive order that has been ready for more than a year. Several organizations are focused on the executive order, but the reality is that he can do not only the executive order, but eleven other actions that are totally under his control. This would be a "fierce advocate;" otherwise, he is falling short.
Part III describes the different paths available to achieve equality, and Part IV, written specifically for this edition, "is a call to action about what you can do in 2013 to achieve legal equality for the LGBT community." This last section features tips for "Strategic and Creative Donors," a manual for philanthropists with more money than time (unlike this present author, who has neither).
Even now, Ahonen-Jover is making plans for his Gay Agenda 2014. "We need to keep the information up to date, and more importantly, present focused actions that people can take tailored to every year," he says.
The Gay Agenda 2013: All In is available in paperback, iBook, and Kindle from retailers such as Amazon. Ahonen-Jover firmly believes in giving books that I find impactful to friends, family and colleagues instead of just talking about them, so he's arranged for the publisher to offer a 20% discount to readers buying multiple copies. Just click here click here and enter promotional code LDQBYR43.