Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Wrap Up: Online/Offline Distinction Blurs As Bloggers Generate Both Light And Heat

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | March 18, 2010 7:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: blogswarm, Congress, Dan Choi, direct action group, Don't Ask Don't Tell, employment non-discrimination, ENDA, GetEqual, Kip Williams, Pelosi, Robin McGehee, sit-in, Speaker

Today began with dozens of blogs and media sites participating in a blogswarm, directed at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, asking that she move the long-stalled Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). A full list can be found after the jump.

The major of question to be answered, of course, is whether online activism can result in offline political activity in the "real world." The answer is a resounding yes.

Reports from Pelosi's office indicate that hundreds of calls were received before the phone lines shut down. While the intent of the blogswarm was to indicate support for moving ENDA, rather than shutting down the phone lines, the obvious point is that there is a great deal of support among the LGBTQ community and its allies for moving ENDA. Let no one say that we do not lobby hard.

But the day was filled with more online/offline interweavings. Unrelated to the blogswarm, online activists of the organization GetEqual, a new direct action organization dedicated to LGBTQ equality, conducted coordinated nonviolent sit-ins at Speaker Pelosi's DC and SF offices. Email and social media alerted supporters to the action, generating additional hundreds of callers, who also logged in online to tell of their experiences calling the Speaker's office. Online video, pictures and live tweets from the protests gave online viewers a direct line to happenings in DC and San Francisco.

Some have questioned the wisdom of the blogswarm, and others are critical of the direct action tactics of GetEqual. These are certainly important issues to discuss, but there is no question that today's blogswarm demonstrated that bloggers and social media can produce significant offline political activity.

What do you think about this? Do you agree with me that online activity can produce significant offline political activity? Do you think the blogswarm was a good idea? How about the unrelated direct action produced by GetEqual?

Here's the GetEqual video taken before the Pelosi SF sit-in began:

Activists live tweeted from the sit-ins.

Here are some of the highlights from their last tweeting hour. Imagine the thoughts and feelings these resolute souls must have had as they waited for the denouement. I hope they are warmed by the comfort of the support of many thousands while in police custody.

Pelosi's staff has closed the door to press outside. Hoping if they ignore us long enough, we'll go away.... about 1 hours ago via HootSuite

@barackobama you asked us to hold you accountable. Now we're telling you, we're ready to @getequal! about 1 hours ago via HootSuite

Thrilled to hear the lines are jammed! U wouldn't know it with how quiet the S.F. staffers in this office are. #GetENDA about 1 hours ago via web

We just scared the crap out of Rep. Pelosi's staff discussing our plans to stay in the office through the night. #GetENDA about 1 hours ago via web

Keep calling folks! Either they've unplugged the phones or the calls are going to another office, cause there are no rings here #GetENDA 34 minutes ago via web

Five people from U.S. Capitol Police have gathered outside Pelosi's office. Arrests could be imminent. (via @DCAgenda) 21 minutes ago via Tweetie

US Capitol police now entering Pelosi's DC office. #GetEQUAL members chanting, "I AM - SOMEBODY - AND I DESERVE - FULL EQUALITY" 15 minutes ago via web

UPDATE: Pelosi's DC office: "Cops gathering outside. We love you all. Likely to be signing off shortly. Stay loud, and GetEQUAL!" #GetENDA 5 minutes ago via web

ABC news waiting outside Speaker Pelosi's DC office - police still negotiating with #GetEQUAL occupants inside. #GetENDA 1 minutes ago via web

http://twitpic.com/19em3t - Thru the door: friendly officer telling us to leave Pelosi's office &the bldg #getENDA

"This is my favorite person in Pelosi's DC office right now. He came out to say hi" :) #GetENDA http://yfrog.com/e7kp6j less than a minute ago via web

DC update: RT @StealThisTweet Thinking it's going to be about 10 more minutes. 7:00 seems to be closing time at the Capitol. #GetENDA

SF activists released with citation n fine 4 disturbance charge after sit-in @Pelosi's office 2 #GetENDA

DC update: Just told police that the group won't leave until Pelosi commits to an ENDA floor vote, then rejoined the group #GetENDA

Pelosi aide Dan Bernal says Pelosi has no commitment or timeframe to #GetENDA. Epic #fail of leadership. #lgbt #ENDANOW

# US Capitol police try and move in to arrest #GetEQUAL occupants of Speaker Pelosi's office - but we lock the door from inside! *standoff* 5 minutes ago via web

The DC Pelosi ENDA 8 are about to be arrested.

At this point, communication ceased.

Meanwhile, Back At the Batcave

The blogswarm was joined by dozens of bloggers, social media users and more traditional media outlets reporting on the action.

Newsweek posted a story on the unrelated direct action on its blog.

Here's a list of all the blogs and media I could find and document by 7:30 pm tonight that participated in the blogswarm. There are dozens more, and I will list them as soon as I can gather myself for that herculean task.

Thank you to all those who participated today. Thank you for your commitment to civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and your willingness to stand up for justice, even if it does not seem politically convenient at that moment.

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Pelosi said it:

“The Speaker believes passing ENDA is a top priority, and hopes that we can bring ENDA up as soon as possible. That being said, the right time to bring the measure to the floor will be when we have the votes.

Now, what's the Plan to get enough votes? More harassment and silly stunts? More calls? More emails? More Blogswarms?

Nobody changes their mind because we get mad and make empty demands or keep hitting redial. We finally understand that lobbying doesn't work for LGBT-issues, but now we default into public displays of anger and frustration. Carnival acts.

These stunts may be good to attract attention, but we don't need attention - we need people to join us. Ranting and raving won't do that.

Most people are laughing at us tonight, while a few, who readily pat themselves on their own backs, want us to believe these actions were smart or effective or in any way valuable. They were not.

If you disagree, please provide some evidence that these stunts inspire or persuade people to want to help us. Otherwise, encourage this very small group of angry, uncontrollable attention seekers to stop embarrassing us.

Apparently, you didn't learn anything from history.

How about today? Stop denying that world has changed.

Andrew continues his never-ending theme to criticize actions taken for LGBT equality without making any alternative suggestions. Andrew do you have ANY suggestions.

Yes. Stop irritating and alienating people. This public display of discontent was childish. It isn't helpful.

Ya need to be a little more forthcoming on the *solution* part, Andrew, and a little less so on the repeating the same stupid things you say all the time.

Andrew doesn't have any solutions. I have asked him for specific details before and he dodged it.

To be honest, I think we should get organized and make calls every single day to Pelosi and others. Make them hear about it EVERY day.

Andrew is more than welcome to continue showing his non-support in the effort to get ENDA passed or he can show his support by at least explain what the F he keeps claiming he is doing to help.

Stonewall Girl Stonewall Girl | March 19, 2010 12:31 AM

Folks, you have probably read somewhere that there is this little thing called "health care" that the President cancelled a trip to help push? Does anyone realize what is happening? Does anyone realize that we MUST pass health care, which is an LGBT issue?

If you haven't watched the news or read the papers, at least those of you should have come down to DC and lobby for ENDA and could have met with Congresspeople and leaders and had a constructive dialogue ... but NO ... that seemed to hard!

And the timing.... you gotta be kidding! get real and get serious! Distraction ... hey the religious wing nuts must be thanking you!

I don't want to seem callous or unfriendly, but...

Are you sure it's an LGBT bill? There's no specific provisions that I'm aware of pertaining to any us, and the general ones are more likely inclusive of exceptions made to certain medical treatments.

I could be wrong -- I'm not as familiar with it as I would like, so please help me out a little here.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 19, 2010 1:48 AM

We don't know the final form of the bill yet Antonia but there have not been any so far that include LGBT-specific provisions. So, as far as I know, you are not wrong.

Thanks -- I try to keep up on the HCR, but after they took the T provisions out and killed single payer, I figured it was over with.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 19, 2010 1:56 AM

Sorry but I cannot agree with you.

HCR and distraction are not the issue. Not getting forgotten because of HCR and the endless politicking, endless campaigning by Dems and Reps IS the issue. It is important that we do not drop our guard or message just because of HCR.

Yes, Juston, I agree with you that our main job is not getting forgotten amongst the endless campaigns that give us the Hobson's choice of suffering in silence or thanking them for noticing us once in a while at a party or fundraiser.

Dear Stonewall Girl:

As you know, I value highly your selfless service to the LGBT community. You have given patiently and tirelessly of yourself to promote our causes to mainstream politicians in mainstream ways that have been very effective. But there is room for both inside and outside advocates in the world of politics.

You are an inside advocate. Your weapon of choice is patient influence and cooperation. We need more insiders like you. Yes, lobbying is important. As you know, I have been intimately involved in helping boost that for the past year. But most of us cannot be and will never be insiders of your caliber, and lobbying is not the only tool in the kit.

I believe that outside advocates also play an important role. It is never a good idea for politicians to get too comfortable. The truth is, they are smart enough to play you, and I think they have successfully gamed the insider advocates.

One way they have done it is by delaying health care reform, so that it has taken up all the air in the room for over a year. They had the votes to do it, but wanted to play the bipartisan game instead. It was a form of political theater intended to make the Republicans appear callous to the health of Americans and to deliver a major victory just before the midterm elections. At the same time, they could hold off demands for other legislation, such as ENDA, by pointing continually to health care reform.

Health care reform is not going to be done next week after the upcoming vote. Reconciliation is still necessary, as well as other legislative maneuvers. Your point about timing would be well taken, except that there is not going to be any convenient time to move ENDA. Once HCR is truly done, there is financial reform, and jobs creation, and a million other things.

Don't you see? You're being played by masters of the game. I respect your concerns and I'm glad you're inside there pushing. But we have very different views of the process.

You suggest, Andrew, that we do not need people to give their attention to the plight of the many LGBTQ people who are unemployed, underemployed and harassed in the workplace because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Rather, you say, we need people to join us.

We have had this discussion for a year now, and I am happy to have it for many years. Being LGBTQ is not something one "joins." Justice is is not something one "joins." Discrimination against workers based on sexual orientation is wrong, period, and the pragmatism inherent in majority rule does not change that. But we have been pragmatic, we have lobbied, we have rallied the votes, we have the evidence in hand that there are enough votes. And the leadership refuses to allow the vote to be taken.

Attention must be paid. Yes, it is attention that is required. Not joiners. Not admirers. Not popularity. Sources in DC have confirmed that Speaker Pelosi does not want to take a vote on ENDA because it is too much work. She can get away with it as long as no one calls her on it in the public spotlight. The major organizations who have the power to cast that spotlight on ENDA collaborate with her to cast it elsewhere. I believe the nonviolent action taken by GetEqual will help move the spotlight where it belongs.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | March 18, 2010 8:53 PM

My initial thoughts (I'll write more in a post for tomorrow.):

Today is a great example of how the LGBT movement can use both online and offline tactics to advance the cause. The execution wasn't perfect. but it does how it can be done.

IMO, the LGBT movement has been behind the curve in integrating online and offline tactics into coherent strategies to advance our issues. Hopefully, today's action signal that we can move past the same old, same old to develop more innovate models for organizing and activism that tap into the clear passion and frustation among LGBT and allied people.

I totally agree, Michael. We do need better coordination, but we now have the tools we need to be effective in both arenas. Most importantly, while we can always use more support and participation, this kind of effort doesn't require the sponsorship or blessing of a major organization.

I believe we're seeing the next wave of civil rights advocacy...at least I hope so.

Right, Becky, we're showing that the old style organizing isn't the only way to do it.

Jillian - this was "old style organizing." Publicity stunts are not new. It's just that in 2010 many of us have grown up and we know this childish behavior doesn't actually produce any positive results.

If you can think of even ONE positive result, please post it HERE. Please. Because this radical 60s stuff is very, very old. It's also very, very ineffective.

Inspiration due to personal sacrifice, empowerment of the grassroots and youth, energizing of the effort to get this passed.

Now that I've contributed three positive things out this, can you provide three positive suggestions for achieving your points?

One positive result, Andrew, is that ENDA was mentioned in the mainstream media as an important initiative that the LGBT community wants.

And please, if you can, stop using capitals and italics and exclamation points in your ubiquitous comments. You're giving me a HEADACHE!!!

"Same old, same old."

This WAS "same old" - in fact, real old. This isn't your Grandfather's America.

If you think irritating people helps inspire or persuade them, please provide some evidence. That whole idea is beyond delusional.

There WAS a time for publicity generating civil disobedience. It was effective to attract attention. We don't need any more attention, we need support. We need people to join us.

These actions today have only generated embarrassment. They may have actually irritated Pelosi enough to strike back. While everyone thought (including me) that we had enough votes in the House - Pelosi said today WE DON'T. She basically said if you want to embarrass me, then I'll just say you don't even have support in the House.

Of course, none of today's circus does anything to change any votes in the US Senate. Perhaps people should determine if an action is effective before we start burning the few bridges we have.

Today's grandstanding display of anger and frustration was a BIG mistake.

Andrew, you suggest that Speaker Pelosi is willing to lie about whether we have enough votes or not. If so, how can you count her as a friend to our community in whom we can rely? A friend to our community would have said that she understood our frustration and commended us on our persistence in the pursuit of justice. If you are correct, then we are dealing with a liar and bully. If you are correct, then direct action is actually more appropriate than lobbying.

I agree, Michael. I think it was another point on a line for our activism, and I hope we continue to use both online and offline elements together to bring positive attention to our agenda and our community's needs.

Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | March 18, 2010 9:17 PM

With the debate over ENDA and DADT comes renewed efforts by some to deny transgendered American inclusion in these pieces of legislation, including some of the very blogs that you listed in this thread. Americablog founder John Aravosis for example doesn't believe that transgendered people belong in legislation or the community as a whole, famously calling us "the trans mafia" and so forth. Aravosis and others seem to tacitly tolerate trans people until it becomes inconvenient for him to do so and then he jettisons us like a bit of green material found in his teeth.
And here we go again. Now we are supposed to forget that he and some of these others feel the way that they do, have spoken loudly and often about what a drag we are on the rest of the community, have published articles about how much further along the LGB community would be if it weren't saddled with the awful T people, how we have "taken away Christmas" for those poor LGB Americans by selfishly demanding our civil rights too.
I don't even know if they are still around but I was always turned off my the tactics of Transsexual Menace" and I still don't have a lot of use for militantly in your face groups like that but with "allies" like these, I can certainly understand why they felt like they needed to be so militant and in your face. It seems that it is never time for transgendered inclusion. I remember being promised by gay leaders in my state that if I just gave a little more, spoke out a bit more in favor of, volunteered to help promote change and was patient and trusted them, non inclusive anti discrimination laws would be passed in my state, (because trans inclusion was impossible at this time) and if I was patient, it would be "fixed" later. I was promised that they would push just as hard for trans inclusion, just as soon as we cleared the hurdle of getting LGB protections in place. So I worked, I gave, I made noise, I marched and viola! Now it's illegal in my state to discriminate in housing , employment, etc on the basis of sexual orientation. Then I said, "WooHoo! for victory! Looking forward to working to get trans people included". "Trans inclusion?", I was asked. "What do you mean trans inclusion? Now we turn to same sex marriage. This is the necessary first step to trans inclusion! When we get same sex marriage, THEN we turn to transgendered inclusion in non discrimination legislation! The public isn't ready for trans inclusion and only legalizing same sex marriage can make the public accepting of transgendered civil rights. You need to give more, volunteer more, march more, speak out more for same sex marriage, THEN we can get trans inclusion, (which we all want wink, wink), trust us".
I'm not stupid. I know that by ourselves transgendered Americans don't number enough to achieve meaningful progress on our own, we must rely on the charity and guilt of others to do the right thing for us. No matter how loud we get, no matter how righteous our cause, there just aren't enough of us to secure our rights without allies. So far though, our "allies" are fickle at best, cynically manipulative at worst. I've come to the conclusion that our "allies" have done us much more harm than good. People like Aravosis for example, publishing screeds in Salon, Huffingtom Post and other places about how transgendered people are selfish for daring to want our civil rights, comparing us to a mafia and so forth. Influential people like Ronald Gold, insisting that we are just a bunch of flamboyant drag queens who give the whole community a bad name. These people, no matter how much perceived "good" they have done for the community as a whole, are not our friends, they are not acting in our interests. They are exploiting us time and time again, just to throw us away when their short term goals have been realized. And, like hostages or victims of abuse suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, we keep flocking back to our abusers when they once again promise to represent the entire community. "Isn't same sex marriage a noble goal", they ask or "Don't you feel like Don't Ask, Don't Tell should be repealed", And "Why don't you help us? Don't you support civil rights for all", they ask, trying to play on our guilt at inaction. With one hand they bring us into the fold while the other conceals the knife they will slip into our backs as soon as we are no longer expedient to them. Then for a while we are outraged and furious. My blood pressure will go up and I will tremble with anger at the mere thought of the injustice I have been dealt. I'll swear off activism and decide to fade into society, rather than being out and active and proud. Soon though I'll start to feel guilty because civil rights for all is a noble goal and the right for everybody who wants to serve his our her country should be inalienable and I'll come back because I can't do otherwise with good conscience.
Jillian, I know you have been in this fight longer than me. You are better educated, better spoken, better connected and have experienced far more success and much deeper pain than I have and I salute you for it but there has to come a time when I have to ask, How much more? How many more times do I volunteer? How much more money do I give? How many more marches do I attend to help swell the numbers of my community in demonstration, how many more times do I then get crapped on before I finally realize that so many of these people intend nothing for me but more exploitation, more fleecing of my hard earned money to yet again cast me aside and in the process set back everything I have gained once again? You have done great and good works and you are a better woman then I.
I'm done. I'll keep working. I'm not ready to fade into society and let go just yet but I'm finished allying myself with people who don't want my presence beyond what they perceive to be my usefulness to them for their own purposes and no further. They refuse to take the downside, instead choosing to only use the benefits of my help while disavowing me when it becomes a bit inconvenient.
No more. No more vague promises, no more pleas to my conscience, no more knives in my back. I don't even enjoy the right to work and support myself, pay rent or even buy food in my state. I can't take it anymore. Working hard and organizing and so forth so that when we get excluded from ENDA again and when we get excluded from the repeal of DADT, and we will be excluded, never doubt that, and watching the gay community sneer at us and call us names or at best, promise to "fix" this just as soon as it becomes law, (we PROMISE, pinky swear this time will be different....), I can't take it anymore. As I said, you are a better person than I.
But just how stupid does the LGB community think I am?

I agree with Jillian, Michael, and Rebecca. Today's action was electrons on and hands on activism. It may not be perfect, but it is more of a model than anybody else has put forward.

Thanks, Greg. It definitely wasn't perfect, but it was progress.

Define "progress" Jillian. You just lost Pelosi and the House of Representatives. It was bad enough we didn't have the US Senate, but you just burned down the house - as far as we're concerned.

If you didn't read Pelosi's statement as a polite F-You, then you can't read. We've been dismissed, again. It wasn't necessary, or clever, or helpful - but, you and your friends did that.

I have respected your enthusiasm and your sincere commitment to LGBT equality, but I do not think you can be honest or objective about tactics or strategies. Had you and your friends thought about whether or not these stunts would HELP us - you would have chosen not to participate.

As a movement we should engage in tactics and strategies that we KNOW will help our efforts. Attention is easy. Results are difficult. Winning is difficult. You have replaced efforts to WIN, with expressions of anger and frustration. Hopefully, you will see that isn't helpful.

I didn't read Pelosi's statement as a polite "F-you" as you put it, Andrew, because it was the same statement I wrote about earlier this week that I got from her Press Secretary. In fact, he insisted on emailing it to me instead of telling me. It's a prepared strategy designed to put us off by means of lip service. They want to seem sympathetic to our cause while doing nothing and blaming it on others.

You suggest, Andrew, that today's blogswarm and the unrelated protest by GetEqual were an exercise in anger and frustration. Far from it. Both used different tactics designed to 1) highlight a specific issue -- the delay in job protections for LGBT people 2) to a specific person who has the authority to do something about it -- Speaker Pelosi, who is the source of the delay and 3) to bring that issue and decision maker to the attention of the public.

"As a movement we should engage in tactics and strategies that we KNOW will help our efforts."

Once again you fail miserably to give any useful details. This seems to be your MO. You have plenty of details on why what we are doing is bad and IRRITATING and HARASSING, though. This reminds me of the GOP. They do this thing all the time. The GOP votes NO and yet can't offer any real reasons or plans.

I was one of the many people who called today (took 6 tries) And I'm proud to say I did so!!! Had I been nearer to DC, I too might have been getting a citation for sitting in Pelosi's office!!!!! WE NEED TO BE HEARD!!!!! The congress needs to know that we are angry and aren't going to take getting thrown under the bus without reprecussions!!!!

Go Kori! Thanks for taking so much effort to make that call. You're right, we need to make ourselves heard. And that's not going to happen by sitting around hoping they notice us.

People have the right to peaceful assembly and protest their governments actions. LGBT folks have done that for 40 years. And the progress is? How is civil disobedience a circus or a stunt? I disagree. These are mature, highly educated individuals. Their actions are non-violent. They passionately believe in this cause. They believe so deeply they have the courage to face being arrested for what they believe in. And what they believe in is right.

When Rosa Parks would not give up her seat on the bus, that was planned. History has not called that a stunt.
Fox News creating news by riling up Teabaggers in D.C. is a circus and a stunt. Not this.

You're right, Jude. It's no stunt to ask for simple answers from elected officials about when they're going to keep their promises. The shameful thing is the weaselly words Pelosi's office gave in response to this simple question.

Because THESE stunts (intended to get publicity) didn't actually change ANYTHING. They didn't change any minds. They didn't change any votes - in fact, we probably lost some, a long with Speaker Pelosi.

If you really believe these acts of childish discontent and irritation did accomplish something, what was it? It doesn't matter if you feel better because somebody made a scene or harassed people today - it only makes a difference if it helped US.

If you think it helped us, tell us HOW?

Andrew, do you think this is our first protest, or that it will be our last? This has been going on for a very long time. Things don't change overnight, but they do change when enough pressure is applied consistently. Try taking a longer view here. You're thinking in immediate gains where we've been working on this for well over a decade.

Tell me how - in 2010 - how PROTEST changes minds. If you want to promote this action, tell us how it helps.

The reason that the protest helped, Andrew, is that it brought attention from the public via the mainstream media. While the public attention brought by this one sit-in was small, it was more than the entire blogswarm would have produced by itself. The blogswarm was designed to get Speaker Pelosi's attention. The protest was designed to get the public's attention. I hope that more will occur to highlight this important issue of injustice.

Kathleen of Norfolk | March 18, 2010 10:49 PM

I totally agree with you. These types of events harden hearts. Look at how folks feel about PETA protestors. How well did Operation Rescue anti-abortion activists fare in the 1980's? Immigration activists in 2005/2006 weren't overly successful. Neither was CodePink. Simply put, this sort of thing is a huge turn off. Nice theater. Self marginalizing politics.

While I don't accept that LGBT people should recieve fewer rights than anyone else, resorting to historonics to advance employment discrimnination protections in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression is probably a bit much. I do think that the Democrats who let us down should be punished. We should not fund them, work on their campaigns, vote for them, or provide any other support.

Kathleen, the issues isn't whether people like civil disobedience. The issue is whether it effectively highlights a just cause that is otherwise receiving short shrift. Regardless of whether one likes or dislikes the causes espoused by PETA, Operation Rescue or Code Pink, one must admit that they got their names and their causes into the media and before the American public. And that is what is needed here. Speaker Pelosi is trying to sweep ENDA under the rug, and the point of the direct action is to bring needed attention to the issues so they can be heard by Congress and the American people.

Kathleen of Norfolk | March 18, 2010 11:28 PM

With all due respects to your much appreciated efforts, the American people have a limited number of issues that it is going to pay attention to at any given moment. Think about what has happened to an issue that far more people care about, the environment. The economic disaster as driven that from the public's consciousness. Its ranking of importance has dropped in the polls. Trying to raise the salience of ENDA is a pretty tall order given all of the challenges that affect far more people.

Personally, I think our best chance to get ENDA will during a lame duck session...particularly if Democrats take a beating.

We can agree on one thing, Kathleen, raising the salience of ENDA is a tall order. But, as my mother used to say, if you don't ask, you don't get.

Speaker Peolosi told you today, after this publicity stunt, that you DON'T HAVE THE VOTES to pass ENDA. She wouldn't have said that yesterday. You forced her to react and she did by telling the LGBT Community to go F*ck themselves.

Now, you have just tried to tell Kathleen that we need judge tactics by their effectiveness. You then claim we need "attention" and that justifies civil disobedience.

We don't need attention. Your co-horts at GetEqual are promoting 10 year-old Will took a REAL stand by refusing to pledge allegiance to the flag until gay people had equality. He is from ARKANSAS! Where do we need to get the message out?" People know. You cannot use that to justify today's idiocy.

Like you said to Kathleen - it needs to be effective. HOW was this effective? Sooner or later, you'll have to answer that question.

The LGBT Movement is embracing accountability. You are included.

Actually, she said it before yesterday. She's been saying that, and then at the same time saying that there's no way to know what the votes are because it hasn't come out of markup.

So she's talking out both sides of her mouth.

You speak about accountability -- today the one's in her office read off all the names that we know have committed to supporting it to her.

You want effective? She's now seen that we will hold her accountable -- especially when she talks out of both sides of her mouth.

Or did you have a different, *more* effective method in mind, Andrew, and, if so, what is it?

You and I both agree that we need to run for office more ourselves. However, without people willing to make that sacrifice -- and you are one of those people who needs to be willing to do that, no matter what your past is or if you think you will win or lose -- that's not a viable option. It's not effective, Andrew.

So come up with ideas.

If all you ever do is talk about the problems, you never get around to the solutions.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 19, 2010 2:12 AM

I'm reading these posts and no one is mentioning the incredible coordination of protests today.

First there were the DADT hearings, compelling testimony from Maj. Almy. Ridiculous comments from Major Gen. Sherman.

Second there was the planned rally with Kathy Griffin.

Third there was Lt. Choi and Capt. Pietrangelo chaining themselves to the White House fence.

Fourth the blogswarm and calling campaign.

Fifth, the GetEqual protests.

I am very heartened and impressed by all of the above. The naysayers on this thread seemed to be nothing more than doomed cynics. Like self-elected literary experts who've yet to publish anything.

Thank you for marshaling all the facts, Juston, and laying out the events so succinctly. Sometimes it feels like no results are being achieved even after working really hard. When I look at it the way you laid it out, I can see the seeds of change.

I remember during the Obama campaign when the Dems were really low and there were editorials proclaiming Republican victory. I posted them on my door after President Obama won as a reminder that doom-sayers are as blind as the rest of us.

Andrew, I keep saying that the effectiveness of the sit-ins was in raising the public's attention, and you keep saying that's not a valid reason. Look, we just disagree. If you don't like my ideas, that's fine with me. But if you make sixteen comments asking me what my point is, and I make sixteen replies telling you my point, isn't that enough?

Take a rest, my friend.

Hi Kathleen.

Forgive me, as I'm going to sound a little like Andrew here for a few minutes.

How are we going to punish them?

Even if we stretch the limits of the mass populations credulity and go witht he LGBT+ being as much as 20% of the population, we do not have near the funding the make a signficiant difference, none of the organization that's essential to the process of making them suddenly sit up and take notice for fear of their seats.


As Andrew has noted, the times of changed. And the very words being spoekn by Andrew, and you, are the same words spoekn at the time of all those great 1960's rebellions. There were people who condemend Rosa Parks for her evetn. THere wee people who tried to stop the March, who told the lunch counter sit ins not to happen because they would be too embarassing.

The reason that PETA and Operation Rescue and Code Pink have that reputation is not that they did those things.

PETA is about telling people to stop eating meat and wearing leather and treating animals as human beings. And they do things that are violent and ulgy and defacing.

Operation Rescue holds up signs of unborn babies and hurls epithets and calls women criminals.

Code Pink heckled the Sitting PResident of the united states (much like a congressman did to the current one), blocked traffic during rush hour, and they use street theater to promote themselves.

I wouldn't call any of them unsuccessful in any of their efforts -- the health care bill creates some onerous restrictions on abortion, Code Pink is at least partly responsible for the overall sense that the wars must end, and PETA's had success in changing people's minds about things (although not tot he extreme extent they'd like).

So to go back to my point, how are we to punish them?

None of your suggestions are actually punishment of them, they are self punishing actions -- if we aren't working with these people, what cause do they have to support us?

THe goodness of their hearts? How does that make it any different?

OUr own organizations are one thing, individual heavily embedded politicians are another.

Kathleen of Norfolk | March 20, 2010 3:44 PM

Those actions are punishment because at lack of LGBT money means Democratic coffers are that much lower. The money cannot be reallocated via campaignm committees to the Democrats in marginal districts. With respect to passing ENDA, we'd sometimes be better off with moderate Republicans in those districts than with conservative Democrats. Conservative Dems like Heath Shuler of NC are in a tough spot (even if they personally support us...and I'm not saying that Shuler does) because they can be painted as supporting "teh homosexual agenda," which of course would be viewed by many as the far left of their natural base. That is a tough vote when facing a potential challenge from the right in a very competitive district. For a moderate Republican, it is an easier vote because of pressures to move towards the center and away from the right of their party. We just saw an example of this in the Virginia Senate. A moderate Republican, Fred Quayle voted for a sexual orientation inclusive antidiscrimination bill. In the U.S. Senate, we see this with the positions of the Republican Senators from Maine (Snow and Collins) versus the hesitancy from Senators Hagan, Bayh and Lincoln.

NNoN is all that comes to mind, and that's never a good a thing.

Especially because it's so cliche...

I always find the play nice and be polite argument in the hope that those in power might somehow decide it is just the right thing a bit suspect. Passage of ENDA 20 or 30 years from now is unlikely to do much good for anyone here and playing nice is just what that might get. History has shown those who wait in silence in the hope that someone will take them into account much like one would offer a table scrap to the family pet are going to be waiting for some time. ENDA like the other issues of interest to the LGBTQ community is something that needs to include everyone or it is not worth doing because the real reason for doing any of this is the fact it is right to do it. The time is apparently now to force this issue to the front. To wait will most likely result in years if not decades more without ENDA. Without ENDA you are unlikely to see DADT removed or the DOMA removed. Money is power and being jobless means little power in this country. If people think that any right is going to just be given just because are diluted. History has repeated shown the struggle for Rights is seldom clean and sterile, but generally a dirty messy process.

Interestingly enough I have tried to call Pelosi's office a few dozen times over the last few days to register my opinion but have always gotten a busy. So someone is keeping those phone lines warm or they have taken them off the hook. Since my current physical condition and checkbook does not allow me to get to Washington to get arrested in her office I can only open my big mouth here while trying to again make my way through the apparently substandard phone system in the capitol. We can get votes registered for such frivolous things as American Idol to work on the phone system but we cannot get a hold of those who decide the fate of millions in this country? Something is wrong with this picture!

I would love to have seen Andrew tell Dr. King that marches in Selma and Montgomery were a waste of time. Would he have told the Czechs that they shouldn't riot against the Soviets in the Czechoslovakia Velvet Revolution. He would have told Rosa Parks to sit in the back of the bus. He would have told the suffragettes to shut up and be happy they can serve men instead of voting. He would have told people not to fight for the rights of children during the Industrial Revolution. He would have told veterans to be happy with the crappy service from the VA, in THIS Century. And, he would have helped the British during the Revolutionary War.

Change only comes when people work on ALL WAYS to act on getting the change to happen. Another history lesson Andrew didn't learn from was Enron. You don't put all of your financial portfolio in one basket and you don't put all of your activism in one basket.

One of the lessons I learned from the Civil Rights movement was when Dr. King wanted to speak in Chicago, but Mayor Daley said he would be arrested if he came to his city. So, Dr. King said, "That's fine. I will not go to Chicago. But, keep in mind that right behind me is Malcolm X and he will not be quiet." Mayor Daley let him come to Chicago.

As I stated in my first comment, Andrew has not learned from history. This may not be my grandfather's America, but it's still America. Being a quiet lemming will not get the job done in the 21st Century America. It's time for action, and if Andrew thinks he can stop it, he is living in an alternative universe.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 19, 2010 8:17 AM

I have not been reading/posting to TBP for very long, but sometimes it doesn't take long to get a person's number.

Andrew thinks that protests and lobbying, media blitzes and political outings, blogswarms and call-in campaigns are a waste of time because they are not changing the minds of the straights who are against equality for LGBT persons. He believes we do not have the numbers demographically to conduct our struggle in the same manner as that of the 1960's. He argues vociferously and continuously against these approaches but when pressed has no solution, no new ideas of his own and has never listed a solution, on this thread or any other on which I've seen him post.

He does succeed in rattling people's nerves I think, judging from the responses he gets to his posts, because he uses the right language and is completely convinced of his own arguments. He cherry picks historical examples to justify his conclusions and asks challenging, serious questions but does not answer them when they are posed to him in turn.

I run across commenters like him on threads all the time. And also people in the real world. They seem to have a mind that likes to take things apart. Dissemble, not assemble. Critique, not create. Break, not build. They also seem to get a lot of emotional sustenance from the reactions to their posts.

I'll admit that I am being very harsh and cutting but in all honesty I am not trying to offend Andrew.

It is just that he is so consistent in this behavior and that this phenomenon I'm describing is so widespread on various blogs that I am truly puzzled by it. And I feel the need to state it publicly because posters like Andrew need to be recognized.

There are people on threads all over the blogosphere that are just natural contrarians. You can detect them with help from my comments above and once their behavior is recognized for what it is, they aren't as impressive as they sometimes seem.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 19, 2010 10:15 AM

People who behave this way also tend to be aggressively repetitive and therefore obsessive.

I'm not offended Juston, I think most of your comment was thoughtful and helpful. But, I do think you should embrace the idea of accountability for our community.

We can no longer accept tactics, strategies and even organizations because "it's what we've always done." Everything should be analyzed to determine if it is actually effective.

That's the goal. Making sure we do our very best. Military leaders, political parties, politicians, team coaches, athletes, business owners, teachers, doctors and many others routinely examine their tactics and strategies. For the LGBT Community is has literally been like pulling teeth just to get people to simply embrace accountability. Most of the objection comes from people earning a living promoting those tactics and strategies. That self-interest isn't evidence.

Recently a Blogswarm was organized to hold HRC accountable. Another was to hold Nancy Pelosi accountable. We should hold ourselves accountable, as well.

My opinion in as few words as possible, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Waiting to be noticed(ignored?) is a bad idea. Pelosi et al want to ignore us. LGBT Americans don't intend to let them.

I own a business and ENDA will not have much direct effect for me, but for all my friends who are under/unemployed this is very important. It also sends a message that America doesn't discriminate against LGBT people. We deserve to have jobs and homes. Two of the most basic components of the American dream. We are part of that dream. We are part of America. We love our country and despise how the government treats us.

The message from are government right now is we would rather play poli-tricks with LGBT lives. We shouldn't let them get away with it.

We want our piece of the pie too!
Power does not concede without a demand.

Silence brings defeat.

I think it is time to hit Huffington Post for the incredible lack of supporting this effort. There was well enough activity for this to be a story and they sat by and did nothing.

Publicity stunts. Unnecessary publicity stunts.

It won't further anyone's career or contribute to our movement. It won't change any minds or generate any compassion or empathy for us. It isn't going to help the passage of ENDA or any other LGBT-issue.

I imagine people are frustrated enough with the lack of progress, that they want to believe or hope that these actions were helpful.

It is important as a movement to hold everything accountable. If these stunts helped us, please tell us how.

If, like Jillian, you refuse to be held to that simple standard, then you are not interested in making progress. It isn't about being "right or wrong," it's about being honest and objective. If we are going to continue to promote these actions we need to be able to substantiate their value.

Where's the evidence Jillian? How do these stunts change minds? How do these stunts garner support? How do these stunts further our movement?

I gave you three of those answers, Andrew.

You aren't interested in answers. Indeed, I asked you some questions and you haven't answered them.

You are not being constructive, Andrew.

You are being destructive.

And hindering the very thing you seek to change.

Some of you want to "take-out" Susan Stanton for being on CNN for two hours, and then support GetEqual getting arrested in the Capitol.

One simple question.
Which was more effective for you goals;
Susan Stanton or GetEqual?

I think Susan Stanton hurt and helped our efforts at the same time. While it did bring awareness to the plight of transsexuals she also showed herself as someone who had no idea what she was doing. She called other ladies 'ugly guys in lipstick' and told HRC it is okay to leave us behind but to come back for us.

I have very mixed feelings about Susan Stanton.

If you're referring to my post Geena, then you really should read it. I didn't say we should take out Susan Stanton for being on CNN, I said we took her out (discredited and disempowered her) as a community spokesperson because she spoke out in the media against treating transpeople fairly and equally under the law.

And in answer to your question, GetEQUAL did the community a far greater service in drawing attention to ENDA (always in an openly and staunchly inclusive manner) than Susan Stanton who had her fifteen minutes of fame and perhaps could have made something positive out of it, but instead squandered that chance by alienating the very community she was being positioned to represent.

I suggested the inclusion of accountability in our movement. The above comments prove that many continue to reject the idea of accountability. Until we hold every idea, tactic, strategy accountable, we will not make progress.

There are new ideas on the horizon and a significant amount of money and effort has been invested in them, but as long as our community refuses to hold anything accountable, it doesn't matter.

These publicity stunts (and they were somewhat effective) attract attention. We have plenty of attention. We need public support and votes in Congress. These actions didn't create either.

I know many people are unwilling to be objective about certain tactics because they've been using those tactics for years and would want to admit they are ineffective OR they make a living promoting or organizing those efforts. Our ability to succeed is more important than anyone's favorite tactic or their own self-interest.

My participation in this conversation is an attempt to determine what works and what doesn't. We have exceeded 60 comments and aside form the agreement that these stunts create attention, there has been no evidence produced that they contribute to people supporting us or any changed minds in Congress. That is accountability. Sooner or later we're going to need to embrace that and it will lead us to effective solutions. It will create a winning strategy that will inspire our whole community to participate.

Jillian said: "Andrew, I keep saying that the effectiveness of the sit-ins was in raising the public's attention, and you keep saying that's not a valid reason. Look, we just disagree. If you don't like my ideas, that's fine with me."

That's not accurate.

I agreed emphatically that you got "public attention" with these publicity stunts. The question is whether or not this "attention" is effective or helpful.

Do these actions further our movement?

Do these actions add to our base of support?

Do these actions change any votes in the Congress?

Those questions are important and should be considered by anyone seeking to create LGBT equality. If there is evidence to support their effectiveness, let's look at it. None was presented here. Not yet.

This is incorrect.

First off, you did not *suggest* the inclusion of accountability.

Secondly, you function on the core assumptions that it isn't included.

Your participation has not been an attempt to determine what works and what doesn't -- you have, in fact, not been conversing (and exchange), but rather simply complaining.

You say we have plenty of attention -- I challenge that foundational premise: show that we have plenty of attention, and be aware that I'll be referencing the Prop 8 trial when I come back at your assertions should you actually bother to provide any (which I do not think will be the case).

I provided evidence that they have indeed changed people's minds about supporting us. Because the greatest level of support we need, right now, is within our movement. We need to overcome the apathy and the non stop complaining but no one actually suggesting solutions.

I am holding you accountable, and look at yourself -- you dodge and avoid it whenever I do, and yet you have the hubris to say that we aren't holding someone accountable?

These *are* effective strategies. They may not be as effective as you would like, but they are effective.

And until you and those who share your passion for complaint without solution suggest something better, they are what we have.

I'm not going to engage you in your childish banter.

Just answer these very simple and direct questions:

Do these actions further our movement?

Do these actions add to our base of support?

Do these actions change any votes in the Congress?

So far, nobody has bothered to answer these very important questions. Cheerleading isn't answering.

YOUR actions (bitching) does not further our movement.

YOUR actions (bitching) does not add to our base of support.

YOUR actions (bitching) does not change any votes in Congress.

Bottom line, you do nothing but bitch. You do not help. You do not get off of your ass to talk with anyone. You do not lift a finger to call anyone. You have no knowledge of history on how the very actions we are proposing have helped hundreds of other movements from the dawn of civilization. With gay people like you, who needs the Religious Right?

And, you don't answer anyone elses questions, so why should anyone give a damn about yours?

Well Monica, I never claimed to be an expert about "bitching," but I appreciate your input.

Those are IMPORTANT questions.

Do these actions further our movement?
Do these actions add to our base of support?
Do these actions change any votes in the Congress?

You can pretend they're not important, as people have for decades, or you can do our movement a big favor and give them some thought. Enough thought to actually ANSWER them.

I do think those are useful questions, Andrew. I'm not sure your questions are the only salient ones, though they're a good start.

I think the answer is, as with everything we've been trying over the last year, is that it remains to be seen. We've moved the number of co-sponsors in the House from 117 to 198, so that's evidence of positive change. My guess is that's a result of lobbying, both from professional lobbyists and from the community.

As far as whether yesterday's blogswarm and the sit-ins have changed anything, they have to be evaluated from the point of view of what they were intended to accomplish: changing Pelosi's idea that ENDA can be buried without pushback. On that, I think it's too early to tell.

I don't think we can wait for that evidence. She's busy with health reform right now, and her strategy all along with ENDA has been to be noncommittal. We won't know more more until after the upcoming vote, when hopefully she will give us 5 minutes of her attention. I wouldn't assume, however, that she is going to give us any direct sign, because I thinks she will see that as "encouraging" us.

I think more actions directed at Nancy Pelosi need to be conceived and executed.

And I already answered them.

But, to be more accurate: Yes, to all.

Please provide EVIDENCE, not your endorsement.

Well then, what sort of evidence would you like?

You speak about lobbying being useless -- and yet lobbying increased the number of representatives signed on as supporting in Arizona from 2 to 5.

And they called me today to congratulate us on a job well done.

You want to add to our base of support? Well, honey, stuff like this adds to that base by attracting attention which means people bother to learn a bit more and that means that the people I just talked with at the open house I went to today are now part of our base.

Not to mention it adds more of us to out base, as it energizes them in a way that isn't easy to do. BY your lights, there shouldn't be any Prop 8 Trial going on, and yet it was direct result of the reactions and involvement that struck following the marches and protests.

I'm sorry, but these do work, Andrew. That you are so full of shit you can't see the forest for the trees, well, that's your problem, not ours, and since the *ONLY* thing you do is spout defeatist hyperbole, and you have yet to answer the questions I asked of you, all I[m going to say is that you had better pull your head out of your ass if you hope to have any chance of gaining further support here or out there.

It's visible if you look -- but you don't want to look, you just want to say that it doesn't work.

Yet, there it is, right there in front of everyone else here.

The times, they have changed, Andrew. And what you've forgotten is that everything old is new again, and the time is now, and you, sir, have a choice that you don't like and that you can't commit to.

Join us and make a difference, or sit there on the side and watch it all pass you by.

Which three Representatives from AZ changed their positions?

The San Diego Gay and Lesbian News reported today that Rep. Tammy Baldwin has counted the votes on ENDA and said there are enough to pass it.

“As someone who has actually counted the votes, I believe that there are,” Baldwin said. “That’s one of the things the LGBT Equality Caucus does is to [focus] attention to making sure we can tell [House] leadership, with accuracy, what the vote would be if they bring the measures up to the floor.”

...Pressure has grown dramatically in recent days for a spotlight on LGBT-related issues in Congress.

...Also Thursday afternoon, other activists with the group staged sit-ins in both the San Francisco and Washington, D.C., offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Capitol police arrested four of the protestors at Pelosi’s Congressional office. San Francisco police arrested six people.

Responding to the protests, Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill released a statement saying, “The Speaker believes passing ENDA is a top priority and hopes that we can bring ENDA up as soon as possible. That being said, the right time to bring the measure to the floor will be when we have the votes.”

It was during the Boston interview, five days earlier, that Baldwin said she had counted the votes on ENDA and DADT and believes the votes are there.

Baldwin was in Boston on March 13 to receive an award from the Fenway Health organization, a local LGBT community medical center.

From San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, March 19, 2010

Antonia, we're on the same side.

I paid for research of the US Congress for the last 30 years. I wanted to know if HRC's +$550 million had for lobbying had actually changed any minds/votes during that time. Only 11 members of Congress had changed their stated position as candidates regarding LGBT-issues, while in office.

Eight of the eleven provided reasons for their change and it did not include "lobbying," it consistently included references to changes in their constituents opinions.

Five US Senators changed their positions on DOMA, but none credited "lobbying" and only one became a full supporter of LGBT Equality - Chris Dodd of Connecticut (Connecticut is only 44% anti-gay). He credited his family and the "changing electorate" and only made this change after he decided to retire from the Senate. The other five Senators didn't confirm support for LGBT equality, but rather said Same-sex marriage is a "States issue."

I believe lobbying DOES have a role when it is local and very personal. There is limited evidence that lobbying has been helpful in certain States (where the public is less than 60% anti-gay) but it has been most effective locally, in cities and towns. This can be explained by the ability to have real, compelling conversations between members of our community and our neighbors and friends, NOT professional lobbying organizations.

I've spent my money to find answers. I've offered more money for ideas. I am focused on winning our equality, not supporting non-profits or activist UNLESS it can be effective.

Your admonition "everything old is new again" is not evidence. It's a cute song (Peter Allen), but it's not enough. It is imperative that GetEqual provide us some insight as to how they believe their efforts will contribute to our equality. That is necessary if they want financial support.

Andrew, "Everything old is new again" is also a way of expressing a rather complex sociological complex that's summed up in the age old maxim that history repeats itself.

Which has a crapload of data to support it. You want me to do the research for you so I can show you, you'll have to *pay me*, Andrew.

And I'm not cheap.

Especially since you can do that research yourself.

But more importantly, Andrew, apparently we aren't on the same side.

You see, *my side* finds that ENDA is more important than DOMA, and much of my side tends to find that arguments centered on DOMA are really arguments centered on ignoring the needs of my side.

Because we don't have money, because we don't have jobs.

We may be headed in the same direction -- my side wants marriage equality as well, and we will fight to get it *back*, because we had it -- but you are working cross purposes.

Lobbying is effective because people know we are out there. Those "changing electorates" are a part of that.

"Credit Lobbying" is an idiocy in action. You might as well say that the companies who spend literally 10 to 50 times as much as our organizations make are ineffective. IN fact, based on your requested data, they *would be* ineffective.

And yet, they work. Half a billion dollars a year is what our opponents spend -- and your study said that half a billion dollars over 40 years did nothing.

And yet, the fact that we can even be having this fight is because of it. The fact that the HRC's historic duplicity is so extreme and known is because of citizen lobbying.

THe fact that our opponents have been using the same tactics for 40 years is evidence.

You want evidence that gay folks alone can make a difference? Well, Andrew, if that's what you are looking for, then you are asking a group that has, by all accounts, less political power than just about everyone short of the undocumented, to prove that it has the same effect as its opposition, and you say this with a straight face and talking about how you spent your money on finding out that the HRC doesn't really have nearly as much money as they need to be more effective.

Which happens to thrill me, personally, but I'm biased towards them.

But that's a fool's errand, Andrew. The oppressed do not have the power to hold someone accountable.

I'm not talking about victims here, either -- I'm talking about that inequity in power.

And we balance those tables by making noise.

Pride parades, Andrew: what do Pride Parades do for the community? Are you holding them accountable? Are you saying they are ineffective?

Most people get most of their news from the basic news channels, Andrew. That's still, surprisingly, the main way by which the majority of people are hearing about us.

And they are far more likely to hear about us and say we are being "uppity" than they are to hear about us and say we are being all reasonable. Indeed, if we are overly reasonable, they ignore us -- just as they do the rest of the time.

That's what happens when you are left behind.

I am merrily militaristic. I like to rock the boat. I enjoy taking away their comfort space. Because, in social psychology, Andrew, groups don't change until you do that.

And we've got a really big group to change.

Oh, and the three people are the three who's districts I've lived and lived in.

You want to spend your money on something that has direct, measurable effect?

No, seriously -- do you? Then start spending it to produce PSA's and to get those PSA's on the air in a campaign to rival cell phone companies and soft drink makers. Saturate the airwaves, and not just during a time of particular political need, but *all the time*, and focus on presenting all of us as human beings.

IT is, in all seriousness, the single piece lacking.

But if you can't get them on the air, you'll have immediate feedback on why things like these protests need to be done.

Good luck with that.