Bil Browning

I've signed on to Don't Ask, Don't Give (and you should too)

Filed By Bil Browning | November 12, 2009 6:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: DNC, gAyTM, Jane Hamsher, John Aravosis, LGBT rights, Michelangelo Signorile, Pam Spaulding, President Obama, Robin Tyler

Conservative Democrats don't want to move forward on Don't Ask, Don't Tell after the last elections. There are concerns about the future of ENDA. No one in Congress is going to do anything about DOMA anytime soon. (If the votes aren't there for LGBT employment rights, there definitely aren't enough to even get close to the issue of marriage equality.)

Virginia's Creigh Deeds was one of the two democrat Governor candidates up for election this year; both lost. Virginia's current Governor Tim Kaine, however, is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He is a conservative democrat and he sets the tone and the priorities for the Party.

Look at these vote projections for ENDA and notice that several Blue Dog Democrats are missing. Review which Blue Dog congress members didn't vote for hate crimes protections. These conservative Dems think that the election results show that Americans want Republicans in charge again and they'll lose their seats if they vote in favor of our civil rights. blue-dog-democrats.pngThey neglect to think that Deeds lost because he didn't have enthusiastic progressive support; he's Republican-lite. He's a Blue Dog. Dogs run in packs.

I've had enough of the Blue Dogs running the Democratic Party. Until those Blue Dogs can stop licking their own asses long enough to stand up our civil rights - our basic human rights - they won't get a dime from me. Instead, I'll continue to donate directly to progressive candidates who believe that I am an equal person with the same rights and responsibilities as any other citizen.

If you feel the same way I do, I'd suggest you stop donating to the party too. Join the Don't Ask, Don't Give boycott with John Aravosis and Joe Sudbay of AmericaBlog, Daily Kos, Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake, Dan Savage, Michelangelo Signorile, David Mixner, Andy Towle and Michael Goff of Towleroad, Paul Sousa, Pam Spaulding, Robin Tyler and me.

FAQs after the jump.


What is this?
We are asking voters to pledge to withhold contributions to the Democratic National Committee, Organizing for America, and the Obama campaign until the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is passed, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) is repealed, and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is repealed -– all of which President Obama repeatedly promised to do if elected.

Why are you asking people to take this pledge?
Candidate Obama promised during the campaign to be the gay community’s “fierce advocate.” He and the Democratic party have not kept their promise.

Can you give examples of how the President and Democrats have not been fierce advocates for the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans?

But won’t your pledge hurt Democrats?
It never hurts Democrats to keep their promises to the voters. The American people respect strong leaders who have the courage to stick to their beliefs. And it will only help Democrats in the next election to stand by their commitments to a core constituency. If Democratic voters aren't motivated, they won't vote. We are concerned that the President's failure to fulfill his promises may suppress voter participation not only from gay Democrats, but from our families, friends and allies. In a very real way, this is an effort to ensure that we get-out-the-vote in 2010, 2012 and beyond.

But if you don’t give money to the DNC, won’t that help elect Republicans who are even worse on gay issues, and other issues Democrats care about?
We are not calling for a boycott of donations to the DNC. We are simply calling for a pause until the party follows through on its campaign promise to repeal DADT and DOMA, and pass ENDA. The party will get the same donations it would have gotten, when the promises are kept. The Democrats could choose to make good on their promise today. And by doing so, they will only further motivate the Democratic base to again turn out for the next election, a decidedly good thing.

You have to admit, gay rights is controversial – wouldn’t it be political suicide for Democrats to push gay rights?
Democrats should not have promised to support gay civil rights rights in exchange for our votes if they never intended to keep the promise. If we're not controversial during the campaign, when politicians are happy to accept our votes and our money, we cannot accept being labeled controversial after our candidates win. We kept our part of the bargain, we voted for Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress. It’s entirely reasonable for us to ask our elected officials to keep their part of the bargain too.

What's more, gay rights are not controversial. Americans favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the military by a margin of 69% - 26%.  By a margin of 57% - 37%, "A clear majority of Americans (57%) favors allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into legal agreements with each other that would give them many of the same rights as married couples." That can't happen if DOMA is the law.  And in fact, if these civil rights promises were controversial, they would have hurt candidate Obama at the polls. But, he proudly and loudly proclaimed his support for LGBT equality, and he won.

No matter how disappointed you are, aren’t Democrats still better than Republicans?
The Republican party is terrible on gay issues. That doesn’t excuse the Democratic party breaking specific promises to the gay community made in exchange for our votes. We didn’t break our promise at the ballot box, the Democrats shouldn’t break theirs after we helped put them into office.

President Obama has only been in office less than a year, why the rush?
In less than a year, serious damage has already been done to the President’s commitments to the gay community. The problem isn’t only that he hasn’t been quick enough to fulfill his promises, it’s that he has actually backtracked on his promises and hurt the cause of civil rights and our community, as detailed above.

But aren’t there bigger priorities than gay rights for the Democrats to deal with, like health care and the economy?
Would President Obama, the DNC and the Congress tell other minorities that their civil rights aren't important? The suggestion is that Democrats have more important things on the table. When won't Democrats have more important priorities than the civil rights of gays and lesbians? Will there ever be a day, a year, an administration, when the President and the Congress won't have serious crises to deal with? Suggesting that gay Americans and their friends and families wait until the President and Congress have nothing else to do is not only insulting, it's a recipe for never. And regardless, we trust that this President, unlike the previous, can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Who is behind this effort?
John Aravosis and Joe Sudbay, two longtime political operatives in Washington, DC, and the editors of AMERICAblog has raised over $300,000 for Democratic candidates and progressive causes, including nearly $50,000 for then-candidate Barack Obama, supported by AMERICAblog early in the primaries. The boycott is cosponsored by Daily Kos, Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake, Dan Savage, Michelangelo Signorile, David Mixner, Andy Towle and Michael Goff of Towle Road, Paul Sousa (Founder of Equal Rep in Boston), Pam Spaulding, Robin Tyler (ED of the Equality Campaign, Inc.), Bil Browning for the Bilerico Project, and soon others.

You can contact us at:

How can I help?
Sign the pledge, tell your friends about this campaign, read the blog, and stay tuned for updates and action alerts on how you help make sure that the President, the Congress and the Democratic party keep their promises to the LGBT community, our families, our friends and our allies.

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And, in case some of you missed it, here is a video on the repeal of DADT:

"AVER & TAVA Presidents Veterans Day Video Message to the President and Congress"

American Veterans For Equal Rights president Danny Ingram and Transgender American Veterans Association president Monica Helms have made a joint YouTube video appeal to President Obama and Congress to Lift the Ban on LGBT military service by repealing Dont Ask Dont Tell.

On this Veterans Day, as President Obama considers sending more patriotic American troops to Afghanistan, AVER and TAVA remind the President of his campaign promise to repeal DADT.

Send the link to others and your Congressional reps.

This is a bad idea, but it will get people to talk

"Democrats should not have promised to support gay civil rights rights in exchange for our votes if they never intended to keep the promise."

People, even angry lgbt people, should not 'sign a pledge' they do not intend to keep.

You know that, barring an economic miracle, Republican conservatives will make substantial gains in the 2010 Congressional (and state) elections. You know that before then there's a pretty fair chance that an inclusive ENDA and an end to DADT will be enacted, both with strong backing from President Obama. You KNOW that DOMA is not going to be repealed during Obama's first term in office, even if he were to make it his top legislative priority.

But you think that a 'pause' that lasts 3+ years is not a boycott? You are swearing that you will not contribute to Obama's re-election effort - period? You will sit on your hands and your wallets even if it tips the balance to Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election?

tristram -

I'm not saying I won't donate to Obama's re-election campaign. I'm saying I won't donate to the DNC. I'll still be donating to individual candidates I feel are concerned about my rights as a full citizen.

An example: Indiana's Congressman Brad Ellsworth is a Blue Dog democrat who will never vote for our rights. Why should I give the DNC money to help protect his seat? Why not give money to a primary opponent who IS LGBT friendly?

And no, I wouldn't just give money to the RNC if they suddenly had the same party platform on LGBT rights as the Democrats. That's the entire point. Saying you're LGBT friendly is a lot easier than actually being LGBT friendly. It's time for the Democrats to put their money where their mouth is - or I'm putting MY money elsewhere.

Tim Kaine is not the leader of the party; Barack Obama is. The DNC does not exist to effect a liberal agenda; the DNC, DCCC, DSCC exist for the sole purpose of electing Democrats. If running anti-gay Democrats were the best way to get Dems elected, those organizations would be doing their job to do so.

It's absolutely astonishing that anyone could give a free pass to Obama. But to focus the blame on the DNC alone makes absolutely no sense. The President is the leader of the party; it is his job to set the tone and move the agenda. The President is the undisputable spearhead of the party.

Obama has said the most wonderful things to say about and to the lgbt community. But he's done nothing. Actually, I wish he'd done nothing becuase the reality is he has been hostile and antagonistic in his actions from the start.

Why anyone would take Bil's advice on how best to move the lgbt agenda is beyond me. Afterall, this is a person that supported the lone Democrat in the 2008 primaries to actively foment homophobia and give platform to "ex-gays", homophobes and bigots. And nothing has changed since he assumed office: the insults and slights have been piling up. The problem is not the Blue Dogs; the problem is people like Bil who refuse to take responsibility for their error and hold accountable the man they helped elect. You were wrong. He's a fraud. Stop wasting everyone's time pretending Tim Kaine or some Congressman from rural district in a Southern state is the problem. Until you do that, you're the problem.

I'm so sorry! I must have missed the amendment to the Constitution dissolving Congress and making all legislation go through the President now. My mistake. I thought the laws were still being written and passed by the Congress.

I think perhaps you lack a substantial understanding of a President's relationship vis-a-vis Congress with respect to legislating. A President is very much involved with all areas of legislation that is important to his agenda. And likewise, Congress is necessarily involved with the President because they can't pass anything wihtout his approval or two thirds of the body (which isn't an easy feat on anything controversial).

But that speaks to Obama's do-nothing approach to lgbt rights. I'm more upset about what he has done, which is antagonize and alienate the lgbt community in order to ingratiate himself with a political constiuency that will never actually support him. This really isn't any surprise to anyone that's been paying attention: this has been his M.O. from the start. It's all politics, and he doesn't think doing anything more than paying lip service to lgbt interests is smart politics. That, or he just doesn't like us. Take your pick.

Good point. I'm sure John Hostettler won all of those preceeding elections because his Democratic opponents weren't liberal enough. This is the kind of flawed thinking employed by the Teabaggers. And we can see how well that has worked out for them and Congressman Hoffman. Soon to be followed, I'm sure, by Senator Rubio.

Instead of concerning yourself with a Southern Indiana Congressional race, I'd say what you should do is make smarter choices about who should be the leader of our party. For me, a candidate who endorses ex-gays would be a dealbreaker. Not so for you, apparently. I guess you didn't think it meant anything. It's not like said candidate would invite and give spotlight to a blatant homophobe at the inauguration or anything, right? But, yes, Brad Ellsworth is the problem.

It's about god damned time an organized effort was made to encourage people to think long and hard about the DNC's weak support on LGBT issues and it's complicity in our ongoing oppression.

We don't have to think about 2012 right now. We just need to firm up our resolve that we have waited long enough. If we are going to be subjected to political whim and manipulation then we must begin acting like participants in a political brawl by doing more than abdicating responsibility.

NOM can threaten Republican politicians in NY that they will bankroll other candidates to keep right wingers in line and in the meantime we will wring our hands and worry about Mitt Romney in 3 years instead of exerting our financial muscle now.

Don't be a chicken shit. We've been pushed around by the DNC for decades. Tristram's comment doesn't scare me. I'm fed up.

The next fund raising letter / email I get will be returned with this reply: "You have asked me to wait and now it is your turn. I will get around to financing your campaign when I am more comfortable with you."

I think this is a bad idea.

The Hate Crimes Bill, which has languished for over 10 years, just passed and has become law. Its happening, just not as fast as we all would hope.

If our community becomes the community that is always full of anger and rage- I worry that the Obama Administration will say, well we can't win- let's just back off.

Anger, moderated by appreciation and collaboration seems like a smart way to me-- and with the passage of HCs, we need to keep a collaborative pressure on our allies- and not make them our enemies.

Bil, the way you frame it is so much more sensible than John Aravosis does. All due respect--Mr. Aravosis did turn me into a little baby gay activist many years ago--the man despises President Obama, and his total hatred of the man (who HAS gone up to bat for us more than any previous president) oozes from every paragraph of his manifesto here.

This boycott should not be about the President as it should be about the DNC as a whole. That's where he DOES get it right.

The President can only do so much, and John knows that. The President will sign any bill we deliver him, but we've got to deliver him the votes. The pressure has got to be on the DNC. Let's not distract from the real issue with 'I hate Obama' chit chat. The DNC continues to drop us like a rock. Don't get me wrong, we should be supporting and electing Democrats--but we should not be doing it by donating to the DNC as an entity.

For national campaigns, we should be picking INDIVIDUAL candidates to donate to who have a VOTING RECORD in our favor. If they're incumbent, they better have gone on record by voting for Hate Crimes, ENDA, and against bills that hurt us in the past. If they're new, and they're coming from State legislatures, then again, their record should speak for itself. No empty promises. Real record. Point to it. Show me.

For state and local, a little more leeway could be made for first-timers, but any incumbent better have tried to move forward a bill in our favor, or else they're just not worth our dollars.

Am I a single issue voter? You bet your ass I am. As long as I can still get fired or kicked out of the ROTC here for being gay, then I'll be a single issue voter. You ought to be too until your politicians start treating YOU as a real American and not a second class citizen.

Bil, I've been boycotting the DNC for some time now, and I've always advocated giving directly to candidates, rather than parties--WHAT THE HELL TOOK YOU SO LONG! :-)

patrick - I can, and do, think short-term, too. 2010 is almost here. 435 Congresspersons will be elected less than a year from now in an economy that will still have around 10% unemployment. Joining the unemployed will be a substantial number of Congresspersons of the Democratic persuasion (even if they're not sufficiently of the Democratic wing of the Democratic party for many of us).

It's very possible that for the last half of Obama's term, John (the orange man) Boehner will be Speaker of the House. Especially if all the other constituencies that think the Prez/Congress are not moving fast enough on their issues (the unions, latinos, etc.) sit this one out too. And I can't imagine that life in lgbt-land is going be that much better if Boehner rather than Pelosi is appointing committee chairs and setting Congress' agenda.

I've gone ya one better, Bil.

I've signed on to run for office in 2012 :D

Not that I donate much generally speaking to any political entity, but for the last few months every time I get an email from the DNC begging for money, I respond with a refusal citing the consistent and willful failure of this Congress and this President to fulfill their promises to this community.

In each of these refusals, I always include my favorite relevant contrived catch phrase:

No justice, no cash!

Bil - I sure did not pick up the distinction in your post - that you'd still donate to Obama before DOMA is repealed. Your closing paragraph urged us to 'join the Don't Ask, Don't Give boycott,' and the first FAQ (presumably from the DADG folks states -

"What is this?
We are asking voters to pledge to withhold contributions to the Democratic National Committee, Organizing for America, and the Obama campaign until the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is passed, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) is repealed, and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is repealed -– all of which President Obama repeatedly promised to do if elected."

It seems to me that the pledge is clearly targeting Obama as much as the DNC.