Bil Browning

GetEqual: Attacking Friends & Ignoring Enemies

Filed By Bil Browning | July 15, 2010 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Barney Frank, Democratic politicians, gay friendly, George Miller, GetEqual, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi

What fresh idiocy is this? GetEqual has launched their newest action and this time they're asking the public to vote which politician they should "hold accountable" for Congress' failure to pass ENDA.

madonna-get-stupid-alternative-video-cap-0003.jpgThe problem? They've only picked Democrats who are LGBT supporters as targets; Republican opposition and conservative Blue Dog Dems who actually held up ENDA are given a free pass.

I've blogged before that I have a real problem with GetEqual's constant attacks on Democrats (they've never protested a Republican) since their funding comes from men with a grudge against the Democratic Party. While the HRC gives Democrats dramatic license to walk all over our community, GetEqual seems content to let the Republican party watch with glee as the group ignores our enemies in favor of attacking our friends.

There are three major problems with GetEqual's latest action. Combine the lack of a strategy with suspect motivation and a blame the victim mentality and you've got a recipe to get stupid.

What's the Strategy?

GetEqual doesn't seem to have a coherent strategy for their direct action escapades. There's nothing wrong with using direct action to benefit the movement. I've led several actions myself and the history of AIDS activism in the LGBT community is overwhelming proof that when done correctly protests and zaps can make a difference.

Direct action, however, is not a strategy. It's a tactic. It's a means to an end. Interrupting a speech by the President or a committee hearing isn't a "win." The repeal of DADT or the passage of ENDA would be a victory.

We're supposed to trust our best interests to a group that's not been able to produce more than a website & a nebulous mission statement about "full equality" that's now been scrubbed from their website to hold someone else accountable? How ridiculous is that? They haven't even named a board of directors to hold them accountable for their actions!

And what does it mean to be "held accountable?" If GetEqual thinks that Representatives Nancy Pelosi, George Miller and Barney Frank plus Senator Harry Reid should pay some sort of price, what is it? What's the end result they are seeking?

Is it their loss at the ballot box? Bringing down their fundraising amounts so challengers can outspend them? Embarrassing them in front of constituents? What sort of punishment should be meted out to consider the Congress members fully chastised and less one pound of flesh?

Does anyone think that a Senator Sharron Angle would be more LGBT supportive than Senator Harry Reid? Would it be better if these friends lost their seat - whether GetEqual works to lower the amount of LGBT voters, Don-Quixote.jpgnegatively impact their fundraising, or sends volunteers to the opposing campaigns? No matter what, it's to our benefit to have those four in office.

Targeting Blue Dog democrats like Indiana's Representatives Brad Ellsworth and Joe Donnelly, or Florida Senator Bill Nelson - all of whom wouldn't support ENDA because it covers transgender people - and helping a more progressive primary opponent win against the Blue Dog is a stronger tactic. Zapping Republicans during the general election to help a LGBT-friendly Democrat win is also a great idea.

Protests and actions are a powerful tool when used wisely to support a movement. Sadly, this latest stunt to "hold them accountable" just proves that instead of working with our brothers and sisters in the fight, GetEqual is, once again, sashaying out to battle like queer old Don Quixote. Someone should really hold them accountable...

What's the Motivation?

When I questioned the authenticity of GetEqual's claim of being a grassroots org and pointed out the quarter of a million dollars being funneled through the group the first half of this year, GetEqual's Managing Director, Heather Cronk, claimed the the group has "not yet asked for a dime."

If you go to their website, however, there's a big bucket at the top of the page with a big pink tag that says "DONATE." They are accepting donations from the public and suddenly owe an explanation to the people who are forking over their hard earned cash during a poor economy.

donate-GetEqual.jpgBut do you think GetEqual is going to feel more responsibility to be accountable to the farmer from Nebraska who gives $20 or the big money donors who've given hundreds of thousands of dollars? I think the answer is obvious.

When we followed the money behind GetEqual, we discovered that one of the main forces behind the group has a history of publicly feuding with the Democratic Party. There's no shame in pointing out the Democrats failing and he and his partner really exposed the dirty underbelly of internal political dealings; I'm regularly a thorn in the side of Hoosier Democrats who fail to measure up.

But that fact needs to be kept in the back of the mind when you look through the GetEqual lens. Any wonderful intention can get tainted by a need for revenge or redemption; sometimes a dubious tactic can seem perfectly reasonable and personally satisfactory when you're in that mindset.

And if the person holding the checkbook has an agenda - whether deliberate or subconscious - you can even end up lashing out at your friends. Our community has a history of eating our own out of frustration at a lack of progress and one of GetEqual's potential targets really illustrates that problem well.

Blaming the Victim

The group has offered up Representative Barney Frank as a possible sacrifice. If ever there was a case of blaming the victim, this is so blatant that it could be used as an illustration in a textbook.

"Should it be Rep. Barney Frank, who said 'we will get this [ENDA] done fairly quickly,' but then called GetEQUAL's pressuring tactics 'immature' and 'tacky'?", the group asks in their recent e-blast.

So let me see if I've got this right. GetEqual wants to punish Barney Frank for his colleagues' unwillingness to vote in favor of his employment rights? After all, if it had the votes to pass Congress, I'm confident the gay legislator would sail the bill right through. The org want to "hold him accountable" because some of Frank's fellow Democrats from different states ignore the party platform on LGBT issues or baldly say homophobic things and reject our very human dignity? What's the strategy behind that?

We are, in effect, punishing Frank for failure. Is that productive or an incentive to continue working on our rights? By that same token, we should hold GetEqual Co-Director Kip Williams accountable since DADT wasn't repealed right after he yelled at the President during a political fundraiser.

Should we hold Representatives Tammy Baldwin or Jared Polis accountable too? After all, they're queer and they also promised movement on ENDA and counseled patience. How about Indianapolis' Congressman Andre Carson? He's black, straight, a member of the LGBT caucus and Muslim; surely that gets us extra credit diversity points in this accountability contest and benefits the movement even more! Right? Right?!

If promising action isn't the determining marker, than what is? That he slammed the group in the media by calling them "immature" and "tacky?" That's about like kicking up dust while you're arguing with someone and then complaining that the conversation got your shoes dirty.

Perhaps it's time someone reminded GetEqual of the old adage, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." If they can sit around and throw barbs all day at both LGBT activists at other organizations or 180px-Spitball.jpgLGBT supportive Democrats, they have to expect the occasional spitball in return.

But the problem with being hit by a spitball is that they make you feel gross, make you look stupid, and you never know what germs are all over it from the other person's drool. So when GetEqual starts reaching for their straws, forgive me if I step out the way and point out that the whole "us versus them" theme that seems to be driving this latest shenanigan is misguided. They are us.

Attacking our allies is a foolish tactic that doesn't benefit the overarching movement. It's not part of a cohesive strategy meant to further our cause. It might be a way to get even, but it's not a good path to get equal.

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Kevin Erickson | July 15, 2010 5:36 PM

Spot on, Bil.

Direct Action is a tactic, not a strategy. Kip's own posts on Bilerico reveal him as having no coherent strategy for change, no understanding of how lasting political change happens. It's extremely suspicious at best.

Our friends, the Democrats? The ones that don't even whisper about DOMA anymore?

The ones that let ENDA die a quiet, strangled death?

The ones who handed off the "repeal" of DADT and veto power to whether it happens or not to the bigoted powers that do NOT want to see it repealed, and who are currently using a rigged study to ask bigots if gays make them feel icky, to bolster the inevitable conclusion that repeal would "hurt unit cohesion"?

The friends who have defended DOMA and DADT in court, using hideous briefs comparing our relationships to that of incestuous pedophiles?

The friends that lie, cheat, and steal time, money and votes and give nothing in return?

You have a curious definition of "friend". You're stuck in the "my team good, their team bad" 2 party dinosaur mode of thinking.

The GOP is bad. The Dems, currently, are just as bad.

We have enough gay groups going after the GOP on a constant basis. Now all we're trying to do is separate who our REAL friends are from the ones that pay us lip service.

We have an exceedingly one sided relationship with the Democrats. We support them unquestioningly and the Democrats behave in an abusive manner towards us.

It's time for us to stop pandering to vicious homophobes like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, the latter of whom gay baited her way into Congress in 1986 when SF's queer community was at its politically weakest due to the AIDS crisis. They are not our friends. They are bigoted rightists who hate us as much as their ideological clones in the GOP.

We need to grow up and realize that politicians often do lie, including Democrats like Pelosi and Reid who pretend to be our friends while conning us out of votes and money.

I don't see any evidence that Pelosi and Reid are "vicious homophobes." They're centrists who are a day late and a dollar short. But "vicious homophobes?" I don't think so.

Bil, I love ya but I don't agree. Calling Pelosi, Reid and Frank "victims" assumes they had no power to change the result. And that's not true.

Calling Pelosi, Reid and Frank "victims" assumes they had no power to change the result. And that's not true.

So you're arguing that they had the power to pass ENDA and chose not to use it?

The end result was that ENDA didn't pass. Now either those three couldn't get it passed or they wouldn't help it get passed. The three were either incompetent or intentional.

Either it's punishment for failure or it's a shocking allegation that I don't think GetEqual is willing to make.

I think that they didn't use the power they had to get ENDA passed. That occurred when there were rumors of an ENDA slowdown on the Hill in early November of last year. No one at that point could say there were insufficient votes, but there were also many more co-sponsors of ENDA than for many other bills that successfully move through markup, and it was quite clear at that point that there were enough votes. Re-read my article on the slowdown, and you'll note in the comments section someone from Barney Frank's office telling me that I was seriously misreading the situation, asking me to calm down, and saying that ENDA was on track for a markup and vote soon.

As it turns out, it was he misreading the situation. ENDA's scheduled markup was postponed a week later, never to return. At that point in a bill's life there is no whip count because the language of the bill has not been finalized, so insufficient votes could not logically have been the reason. And as I noted, there appeared to be plenty of votes for ENDA. To the extent that the vote needed a bit more shoring up, and in this Congress every vote needs shoring, it would have made sense to mark up the bill, coordinate with advocates to make a major push on the House votes, and take the vote and move it to the Senate, where there was already a majority in favor of ENDA (though a few more votes were needed that the momentum could have only helped). That would have taken advantage of much momentum in the advocacy community on ENDA.

Instead, what happened? They stopped progress on ENDA, floated some stories in the LGBT media about how ENDA was dead, wrongfully and hypothetically blaming the Senate, and DADT repeal surged ahead.

Barney Frank, as the most powerful member of the House and the lead sponsor of the bill, must share much responsibility for that. There's plenty of blame to go around, however, to Jared Polis and Tammy Baldwin, George Miller and Nancy Pelosi.

They failed to get the job done when they had it all set up to move. Now the revisionist story is being floated that there weren't enough votes.

Bull. They stopped it in its tracks when it was going strong. Please point to evidence showing I am wrong.

You know I appreciate your effort Jillian, but you continue to mistakenly believe that a Senator's position on LGBT-issues can be "influenced" or changed by party leadership.

I'm sorry, but that's childish.

There aren't enough votes in the US Senate to pass ENDA. GetEQUAL's childish stunts won't produce more votes and will likely just alienate our only political hope - Democrats. Running around and screaming "I don't care if you have enough votes YOU PROMISED" is juvenile. You know we don't have enough votes in the US Senate and we never have.

On June 15th, when you gave up on politics, you said:

I'm not mad at President Obama, or the Democratic Party, or Barney Frank or Nancy Pelosi or any of them. They're good people trying to do good work."

Now, you're mad again? Now you believe we can embarrass and try to humiliate people into action?

GetEQUAL is counterproductive. Kip and Robin were hired to "embarrass Democrats" and they are simply embarrassing themselves and us - all of us. They are not an LGBT non-profit and they do not represent the community - they represent Jonathan Lewis and Paul Yandura - their employers.

Thankfully they have only a few dozen followers, but they may be on the payroll, too.

Wanting to hold someone accountable isn't being "mad" at them. I'll be posting more on this at 1pm today.

Pissing on them is holding them "accountable?" I'm anxious to see your rationale.

I look forward, Andrew, to your comments on my 1pm post.

Bill, this post is ridiculous! You're stuck in the old school activist model where you treat your supposed "friends" with the same respect you treat your childhood bud. Fact is, our "friends" have more than proven their lack of "friendship" by not standing up, not making headway not following through on promises made for decades now. I strongly question your position...perhaps a little more thought would have helped you realize that it's the people who make the promises, who are, at the very least, somewhat movable and have asked to be held accountable by way of making promises to us. The Republicans have no desire to see our equality come to pass, the Republicans haven't made promises, the Republicans are not movable. The leaders of the Democratic House and Senate have made promises time and again, and at what cost? The blood, sweat, tears and dollars of our community. Bill, I'm beginning to question your journalistic integrity and skill. By the looks of it, you'd rather go after the folks that have no professed allegiance to our equality, while continuing to give the Dems, who repeatedly let us down, a free pass.

Finally, regarding Get Equal including a "donate" button on their site, anyone who donates to them knows what Get Equal is about. It's a weak position to play the poor, uninformed contributor card just to strengthen your already weak position. It's becoming more and more apparent that you have a vendetta - what that is, I'm not sure, but I'm becoming less tolerant of your toxic posts.

@Gridlock: Barney Frank isn't our friend? Tammy Baldwin? Jared Polis? Did you even read the post?

The Dems aren't evil... they just face political realities because of the Republican filibuster (which is killing or watering down just about EVERYTHING we try to do these days) and the Blue Dog Dems. How about instead of brainlessly attacking our allies... we figure out how to solve THAT problem?

You said: "Now all we're trying to do is separate who our REAL friends are from the ones that pay us lip service."

Attacking those who ARE "us" does this, um, how?

The GetEqual mentality is the same one that split the votes Al Gore needed to win decisively over to Nader because it "felt right". Fat lot of good that did us, huh? THINK, would you please?!

Barney Frank is a tired old gay prostitute who is more comfortable being chauffeured around in the boat than rocking it. He views any kind of civil disobedience or in your face activism with condescending distaste.. all the while his "access vs. success" approach has a rather slanted quotient to the former.

The play nice approach doesn't work.

Again, what victories have our "Friends" given us in the last few decades? Nothing.

What we got, was DOMA, DADT, and a truckload of "sit down, shut up, and wait because there are more important things going on and we're not devoting any political capital to your equality. Btw, give us more money and votes because... the GOP! booga booga!"


Allies fight for you. These people don't. Wake up.

I respectfully disagree.
I think we should make the democrats very scared of losing elections because they don't take a strong enough pro-equality stance. Otherwise, they will continue to take us for granted.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | July 15, 2010 10:50 PM

What's all the fuss about?

It's not as if the Democrats are going to win November 2nd. They've betrayed everyone but the looters and the militarists and they're about to pay the price for that.

Here are the latest poll numbers (reported on Political Wire) which reflect the fact that people are fed up with both of parties because they're virtually identical. They also reflect the fact that the Democrats across the board betrayals and failures are going to cost them dearly.

A new Bloomberg poll finds 71% of Americans think the economy is mired in recession. Furthermore, the public mood is bleak with 63% saying they believe the country is on the wrong track, the most negative reading of President Obama's tenure. Bloomberg also reports that Americans disapprove of President Obama's handling "of almost every major issue and are deeply pessimistic about the nation's direction, offering a bullish environment for Republicans in the November congressional elections... "

According to a new Bloomberg National Poll "A majority or plurality disapproves of Obama's management of the economy, health care, the budget deficit, the overhaul of financial market regulations and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, almost 6 in 10 respondents say the war in Afghanistan is a lost cause."

Key finding: "Almost two-thirds say they feel the nation is headed in the wrong direction, an even more sour assessment than in March when 58% felt that way."

Meanwhile, a new CBS News poll finds 51% of Americans have a negative impression of the economy and expect the effects of the recession to linger for years.

The latest Public Policy Polling survey shows President Obama's approval rating hit a new low this month with just 45% of voters approving of the job he's doing while 52% disapprove.

First Read: "From 1996 through 2004, American politics barely changed. We lived in a 50-50 nation, with one party picking up/losing just a handful of congressional seats per cycle, and with the presidential contests decided by razor-thin margins or the winner not getting 50%. It was like a WWI battle — so much blood, sweat, and money spent for a few inches of political change. But that wasn't the case in 2006 (when Democrats won back the House and Senate) or in 2008 (when Obama won decisively in the presidential election, and Dems picked up many more House and Senate seats). And this year, we could be headed for our third-straight change election."

These numbers are so bleak they caused Democrat James Carville to quip "We have a three-pronged strategy: To keep the House, it's called the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost."

Actually Bil I think you are reading this incorrectly. I do advocate a strategy of electing as many progressive Democrats as possible and opposing conservative Republicans at every opportunity but also de-seating 3 house democrats who have proven not only ineffective but also misleading if not outright liars. Perhaps I am wrong but I count it a bit nastier to be mislead by supposed friends than to be openly opposed by ones enemies. I think we need to toss out 3 deceitful top Democrats and my choices are Pelosi, Frank and Miller. The GLBT vote in each of their districts could certainly accomplish it. I, for one, would rather have seen ENDA reported out only to fail than to have had political games played. These 3 have shown the ultimate in disrespect. Their attitude is "we know better than you" coupled with "you need us". I reject both assertions.

In fact it would not surprise me at all if those 3 and Joe over at HRC meet frequently and discuss how to keep the hoax alive. I prefer honest failure to pompous deception. We would be making a very strong and accurate statement key to an effective strategy if we united in saying to that leadership "you are wrong, we don't need or want your type of disrespectful leadership".

Remember, it wasn't Nixon's involvement with the break-in that toppled him but rather his lack of integrity.

Now I am just a simple ditz so maybe I have this all wrong. Eh Brutus?

@Deena: Please pardon me if this comes across as rude... but "We know more than you" is true if your position is that they're just being deceitful.

An understanding of the machinations of DC (or any of the State governments, for that matter) means that you get there are political realities and even those in power don't get to just snap their fingers and make things happen.

"In fact it would not surprise me at all if those 3 and Joe over at HRC meet frequently and discuss how to keep the hoax alive."

C'mon... really? Conspiracy theories? I'd point you to how ridiculous the "truthers" and "birthers" sound.

This isn't apologetics, by the way. It's just fact. It's unpleasant and I don't like it either, and we should all be working to keep the pressure on and keep things moving, but nothing GetEqual is doing is going to make it happen any faster. Not. One. Darn. Thing.

Adam you aren't being rude nor am I ignorant of politics. I grew up at the knee of a sitting United States Senator who was a close family friend (and a Republican). Over the years I have known more than a handful of Senators and quite a few members of the U.S. House including both John Lewis and Porter Goss. Sorry to pop your bubble but it is not conspiracy theory that there is plenty of interaction off the floors of Congress.

So here's the scoop Adam. Unseat a few powerful "allies" openly and aggressively and you will get some respect in Washington. That can be done while still doing our best to keep majorities of progressives in both houses of Congress. Power is what moves minds in Washington and just towing the line is Uncle Tom tactics which reads as "powerless" to politicians on both sides of the aisle.

People are searching for a successful strategy yet when one is articulated they squirm. Then they end up powerless and bitch. If you want to be effective be ready for focused actions that demonstrate power. Anything less and you may as well be cleaning pelicans along the Louisiana coastline.

Really, we have friends? By the descriptions I thought both parties were equally repugnant?

Soooo, people want proof that Pelosi, et al they are not helping us? I want proof that the other concepts work. As Bil has asked, where's the accountability. Politicians have accountability, it is called an election.

Nobody has done enough but I will point out that lots of lgbt are suffering not from a lack of ENDA but of a job, income, support. ENDA does not fix the economy, it will help but it will not move those politicians who are fixated on us as wedge issues, not humans.

I have a question, how many people here have passed any lgbt legislation in their own state? And how did you do that?

While I would certainly rather see us as a community target some of our avowed enemies, perhaps nailing one of the lackluster 'friends' might not be a bad idea. Might teach others a lesson.
Some of your points about GetEqual are worth looking at but I'm not vehemently opposed to them just yet. I am still in a watching and waiting phase.
It is possible that they are an answer to Buffalo Joe over at HRC. Personally I'm tired of seeing the community Buffaloed and very much tired of seeing politicians Buffaloed buy BJoe into thinking that he speaks for us all.
I know that HRC makes me sick, I know that our enemies are in need to being replaced. I am not sure about Getequal yet and I am starting to think that perhaps we need to train out 'friends' a bit better, we have certainly given them enough reward$ maybe it is time for a rolled up paper on the nose. The long term pay off achieved by getting rid of a couple of Dems in a classic flush and swirl might be well worth it.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | July 15, 2010 10:45 PM

There is absolutely nothing wrong with targeting a party that's run by bigots and bigot panderers. In fact, the Republicans are one such party but they aren't really the prime target because they're not the bigoted party in power. That would be the Democrats who are run by bigots like Obama and bigot panderers like Frank.

Democrats have had a majority in both houses for 4 years, and for most of the last 2 years had a super majority and control of the White House. The fact that they refuse to repeal DADT and DOMA and enact ENDA is the only important fact and that fact indicates that they won't, not that they can't, but that they won't and don't agree with our agenda in spite of their lies and promises to the contrary.

Barney Frank is not the victim. He's no more a victim than Quisling was when the Norwegians took care of him. Barney Frank is the enemy who victimized everyone in the GLBT communities by gutting ENDA. Barney Frank is the enemy who slandered and vilified trans folk to justify his own bigotry.

Every politician, supporter and leader of the Democrat Party is defined by the demonstrated bigotry of that party. Perhaps it's time someone reminded GLBT Democrats of the old adage, "If you can't stand the bigotry, get out of the Democrat party."

On November 2nd we should vote for a left party of sit it out.

Gee, we guess we better start reading Bilerico more often. BRAVO. Finally somebody talking with some sense. Get Equal was Get Lost since day one.

How the hell do you justify ignoring the Republican party, teabaggers and the Christian Right? I'll tell you how. If you're a racist jackass you'll find a plausible explanation that works fine for you and all those who think like you.

I'm so glad Get Equal is on its way out. FAIL. I mean, we have a President who is so cool in terms of smacking people down they just made him look BETTER.

Get Equal has made the whole conversation about DADT look at lot more reasonable and attractive with their antics. And the thing is, nothings changed!

The president hasn't skipped a beat. Totally sticking to his own agenda, own gameplan. Doing it all exactly the way he laid it out for himself like a year ago.

Thanks Bill. Keep preachin' the gospel. Maybe some of these fools will hear it.

so your argument is that anybody who goes after Obama for lying his face off is a racist?

Wow. 2009 called and wants its hysterical argument back.

Truth Speaker | July 16, 2010 2:43 AM

I think quite a bit of the blame goes to our community for this travesty. Here is a link to a video of some people who have no idea what they are doing.

There is no political strategy here, just antics. He clearly tells you what you need to be doing to get the bill passed and its just totally ignored.

I would i also like to point out that all of the people in this video are saying to do is push the bill forward regardless of knowing if their are enough votes for it to pass. You hear clearly at the end of the video one of them saying, "why are you waiting for our rights?" after he says they are waiting to make sure they get the bill through without losing the trans-gender clause. How intelligent is that? That sound was the the sound of a bus running over the Trans-gender community.

I think you can justify your concentration on a party that has held a majority for some time now and has passed very little of what they could have done. I do not blame the Republicans, I do not blame the Democrats, but I blame ourselves for not doing enough.

That is changing, and regardless of tactics everyone needs to be onboard. I am twenty-one and if we go at the rate (and tactics) of the previous generation I will die unequal.

There MAY be 10 states with marriage equality, but DOMA will still be in place. ENDA will still be stuck. DADT will e repealed, but we will be segregated (better believe it can happen, I am speaking from Iraq) and I cannot accept this.

I don't care what your tactic is BUT DO SOMETHING.

I think that's the problem, right there, Eric.

I don't care what the tactic is either - but there has to be a sound strategy in place first. "Just do something..." isn't a plan; that's just throwing crap and wall and seeing what sticks.

That seems to have been GetEqual's mantra lately. They're just hoping that they help us out; there is no plan further than "do something."

I agree with you on this point, Bil. There doesn't seem to be any coherent strategy. That is a huge problem for GetEqual.

Bil, obviously you've decided that questioning people in power is a good thing. It's not. Just accept that GetEQUAL's heart is in the right place and let them do their thing. The Demcorats, about whom the same things could be said, should be criticized.

Why the distinction? I think a comment above that made very eloquent use of the caps lock says it all: we're angry so someone has to do something. If that's doesn't encapsulate the LGBT movement's extraordinary strategic planning right now, then I don't know what does.

Thank-you for helping to expose the idiocy of GetEQUAL.

Jonathan Lewis and Paul Yandura have wasted $500,000 on the childish idea that "embarrassing Democrats" would help us. It doesn't. It is counterproductive.

When these misguided (paid) Activists engage in their idiotic stunts they are simply playing to a portion of Democrats while alienating the majority of Democrats. In politics you only get hope. GetEQUAL is casting the LGBT Community as a nuisance. It isn't helpful.

The unfortunate truth is we don't have enough support in the US Senate. Nothing GetEQUAL is doing creates any additional support. It just makes us look like misfits, unaware of the political reality that we don't have enough votes.

I have been critical of GetEQUAL because they have never provided any rationale for these childish publicity stunts. They disrespect decades of effort by the LGBT Community and they jeopardize relationships that are (politically) all we have. It doesn't make sense to piss on our friends, even if we believe they are not doing their best, because that "direct action" doesn't inspire or motivate anyone.

Remarkably, when an activist is hired for $89,000 a year, an online poll is used to help them determine who they should "target." Soon, they will have a poll to determine exactly what embarrassing phrases should be printed on their signs or the color of their t-shirts.

This childish effort is not being supported by the LGBT Community and we simply have to wait until they run out of money - the sooner the better.

Getting change through the political process is about one thing and one thing only, power. Voters seldom exercise power and simply return to office those who already hold a position in Congress. The exception is the Presidency because there will be a change at least every 8 years due to the term limit.

Now if you have ever real Alinski his observation was that the key to an opposition's defeat is always found in that opposition's strength and never in their weaknesses.

If we want to play power successfully for change we need to demonstrate power. The strength of Pelosi, Miller and Frank is the safety of their districts. Why? because the GLBT community has the votes in those districts to re-elect them time and again. It would be a real game changer to initiate a "because you didn't" campaign and toss those 3 out of office. That does not mean in any way that I advocate changing the majority in either house to Republicans or conservatives.

Look at the alternative. Vote those 3 back in and you get simply more of the same but with a reduced majority because the Republicans will pick up both House and Senate seats in 2010. Do you want more of the same? More crafty statements that sound supporting by always have a loop hole? More failure to act because of this or that excuse? I would have much preferred to see legislation actually fail in one house or the other than to see it rot in committee.

We have the unique ability to use a selective strategy and change the landscape. Will we do it or will we be good girls and boys and "not attack friends"? Now there are 3 things to understand about power. It has to be real, you have to recognize that you have it and you must be willing to use it. In the case of the districts of Pelosi, Frank and Miller we meet the first 2 criteria but I fear we fail on the third. Yet that could turn in a flash if a "Because you Didn't" campaign took hold on the net and got near universal support from the GLBT community.

So, to those who say "don't bite friends" I you really want more of the same? Would you be willing to use the power or do you advocate maintaining the traditional marriage we have with Pelosi, Miller and Frank?


Your thoughtful analysis fails to recognize the roadblock to passing LGBT-related legislation - it isn't Pelosi, Miller and Frank, it's the lack of enough votes to pass anything in the US Senate.

A "Because you Didn't" campaign to remove those three politicians does not change the reality of having insufficient support in the Senate and it would actually hurt us. We may not be happy with our allies in the Congress, but until we get them enough votes, their hands are tied.

You want to "bite our friends" because they COULDN'T pass any laws, not because they "didn't." That's our fault, not theirs.

This highlights the stupidity of GetEQUAL. Pissing on our friends may feel good, just like making empty threats and demands, but it doesn't help. It actually hurts us.

I'm sure after Obama laughed at and dismissed the embarrassing antics of Kip Williams ($75,000-a-year "heckler"), he quietly asked fellow Democrats "why are we helping these idiots?" So far, we have only three choices politically: Democrats, Republicans or abstaining. Even abstaining is better than pissing on our friends.

Chitown Kev | July 16, 2010 3:32 PM

While I don't think that Democrats from the President on down are exactly "our friends" or our saviours, it does seen to be the height of hypocrisy not to target Republican bigots as well.

And yes, it seems that Get Equals actions thus far has been a lot of willy nilly actions with means and not an end.

Now if GetEqual makes the HRC's of the world more appealing, then that's a good thing; at least that's an end.

So I by and large agree with Bil here but that doen't exactly me a friend of the Democrats and the Congress and the President either.

The answer to your question is simple.

We must get our own house in order before we can go on to that of our enemies.

It's no use going after Republicans when we can't even get a simple majority of Democrats to pass simple legislature such as DADT and EDNA.

You need to cut out the cancer to make the body well enough to fight.

That isn't smart because while you try and 'sort this cancer out' (which really means you DON'T understand how politics works), the repubs and teabggers are getting stronger and stronger in getting everyone to HATE you. Gays.

DADT, DOMA are hugely important but what about the cancer that is sweeping the US and blocking gay marriage, making more people gay bashers and making schools publicy HUMILIATE pupils who are gay?

So while you waste your time bitching within your group, you are doing NOTHING to prevent the rate of sucides amongst gays nor the amount of work the Christian Right are doing in irradicating us.

And these people are ALL Republicans.

I'm not purposefully being ignorant, I really would like to know the answer to this question:

If HRC is the bad guy for letting dems walk all over our community, and GETEQUAL is the bad guy for confronting democrats, what exactly is the "correct" strategy? I mean, all I do is read gay blogs trashing HRC, and then I see a group doing what I thought all the HRC trashers would appreciate: holding democrats feet to the fire, and then this post. I'm lost.

(quote from Bil) "and helping a more progressive primary opponent win against the Blue Dog is a stronger tactic. Zapping Republicans during the general election to help a LGBT-friendly Democrat win is also a great idea."

I just want to point out that this is one of the things that HRC does through their political action committee. I understand that there are folks out there who, with good reason will never trust or work with them. I also understand that we need all of the arms of this movement, those who are seen as political "insiders" and those who might get publicly reviled, but who in the process of agitating and planning direct action push the whole discourse further to the progressive side, closer to the goal.

The goal is: full civil and social rights and acceptance for LGBTQI folks, am I right? We can't just pick one tactic, we have talented people of many opinions and abilities and strengths and resources in this movement to work from all angles.

Being nasty to GetEQUAL on your blog isn't holding them accountable either. There's no way forward when we're calling each other stupid like kids on a playground.

I enjoyed reading your post Bill, however, reading the reader commentary concerns me a bit.
In it's infancy, this administration has done more for gay rights than any other, with promise of many future endeavors. Indeed, we have a long way to go. Past experience should have us with the understanding that change doesn't happen overnight and it isn't easy.

A well known republican strategy is to divide and conquer. Unfortunately, our community is playing into their plan nicely. What have they done for us lately? Wake up and smell the bs.

I agree that the ADMINISTRATION has done some nice work, but the CONGRESS has done zero, zippo, nada, nothing. Ms. Pelosi has promised a vote on ENDA and reneged. Do we really need someone who breaks her word? Is that your definition of a "friend?"

The adage "history repeats itself" seems to come to mind. Remember in the early 1990s, there was an organization called Queer Nation? They came, they saw and then they disappeared. They also attacked HRC and Democratic Allies. They were mainly based on anger and frustration than anything else. Remember what happened in 1994? The Repubs. took both house of congress with Newt Gingrich running the show, and then we had NOTHING on Capitol Hill four 14 years!!! Do we want the same to happen in 2010? I hope you are listening Get Equal aka Queer Nation II.

Just so everyone knows. Our "friends" the Dems have basically shelved EDNA until after Novembers Mid-terms when they will probably lose either one or both houses thus possibly stalling it's passage for a very long time.

Lindoro Almaviva | July 16, 2010 10:28 PM

why shouldn't Democrats face the responsibility of being called to the carpet. After all, this administration promised to be fierce advocates and in reality they have turned into mild supporters, so long as no one is watching.

I don't think the gay community should automatically support a democrat just because they are a democrat. I think this is the year when gay people actually tell members of congress that they will be supported strictly on their support of our causes. If we are going to throw the support of an entire population behind someone, that person better be ready to use their position to support us back, not just turn their back on us when the tough gets going.

GetOVERItMARY | July 16, 2010 11:28 PM

The real question is, why does Bil Browning have such a bug up his ass over Get Equal? They've gotten far more attention focused on DADT than the HRC has in ten years.

Are you jealous, Bil, or simply in Solmonese's pocket?

@ Andrew and others who think they understand the way forward. Power is not about opposing adversaries. It is about taking command of a situation. The Republicans have shown that with 40 votes in the senate they can exercise more power than 59 Democrat Senators. That means one thing. It means the Democrat leaders are inept and should be replaced. You are simply more ditzy than me if you fail to grasp this reality. But strangely enough the solution lies not in the senate but in shaking up the house where sacrificing a few leaders costs us far less than deposing one or more senators. Digest that oh wise ones.

Ah, another apologist for the Pelosi People in congress. How can you possibly defend individuals who are repetitive liars to the community? I'm not calling for a "scorched earth" campaign, but to be quite honest, the minor gains we have made in the trans community have come in spite of, not because of Ms. Pelosi and her cronies. They are interested in getting reelected and lining their campaign coffers with money.

ENDA should have already passed the house, but it hasn't...and I hold Ms. Pelosi personally and mainly responsible for this.

James Twist | July 17, 2010 9:42 PM

I'm glad GetEqual put the presidential feet to the fire by heckling him. We *thought* we were getting a fierce advocate a la Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Now *there's* a fierce advocate. She talked and talked this marriage equality thing when her numbers were few, twisted arms and got it done. Our fierce advocate, in addition to saying nothing really about marriage equality, now gives us a DADT poll. Really, a POLL? THIS is why we're angry with him. We know where the GOP stands, and with the new congress things will only look dimmer. The Tea Party is going after the GOP forcing them to the right where they feel they should be. Why can't we force our party to the right where WE know they should be?

The answer is simple. Pelosi, Frank and Miller think they are omnipotent and wise. That is why they need to be taken down. The GLBT united voters in those districts have the capability to make 2010 a game changer but I doubt they have the fortitude to engage. Power is useless unless there is the will to use it when necessary.

And to Bil.... this is the point...our enemies need to be engaged and battled but the real fight is for the heart and soul of the progressive thrust in true equality. I am tired of the lies. I am tired of those who think they will get my vote by pandering at opportune moments only to tell me they know better when the battle gets tough. I like Patton who said either get those troops moving or I will replace you with someone who can. He understood both leadership and war.

They can attack the Democrats all they want, but it certainly isn't going to get the Democratic party any more political capital to do anything. Everyone's emotions aside, it's just not helping to attack Democrats.

If we attacked Republicans, it might actually give the Democrats something to work with.