Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

National Media Spotlights GetEqual In DADT Protests

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | November 19, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, GetEqual

In reporting on the groundswell of protest over the delays and prevarications regarding the repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, and the sudden, newfound confidence in Washington that there are enough votes to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the national media have spotlighted the message of GetEqual.

Of course, the main story here is that of the repeal of the discriminatory Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, and that's what we should all be concentrating on.

Who gets credit, if any is indeed to be gotten in this sordid story of political wheeling-dealing, is of no importance whatsoever.

But, at the same time, I do note that criticism of GetEqual has come, from some quarters, including on this blog, questioning its relevance and whether it has any accomplishments to show for the time, effort and money.

GetEqual has been featured this week in stories by the AP, Washington Post, CNN, CBS News, Fox News, and MSNBC, as well as many other local TV stations, newspapers and blogs, both LGBT and mainstream, symbolizing and highlighting the efforts to move DADT repeal.

If media stories are the coin of the realm in creating effective non-violent protest, then GetEqual is beginning to cash in.

I'm at the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce conference in DC, and I don't have good internet access, so I can't copy and paste all of the stories featuring GetEqual. But there are many.

I don't mean to crow about GetEqual, though I am proud that it is gaining some traction in the mainstream media. Rather, I mean to point up the value of an organization doing non-violent direct action. It's all well and good to do behind the scenes advocacy. That's very important, and, I think, much more important in the long run than nonviolent direct action. It's true that nonviolence direct actions are often ignored by the media. But when the media need a focal point to illustrate the frustrations of the LGBT community, when the question arises whether the LGBT community is apatheic and doesn't care about these issues, it's important to have an organization like GetEqual there doing its work.

GetEqual needs improvement, no doubt. But I'm glad it's there, I'm glad there are people willing to put their bodies and their safety on the line for the rest of us, and I'm glad that we have a lightning rod for the feelings and passions of the LGBT community.

Thank you, Get Equal.

Disclosure: I am on the Board of Directors of GetEqual.


Here's a list of some links:

National Media

Associated Press

Washington Post


Politico 1 and 2

Huffington Post

Fox News

The Atlantic


CBS News 1 and 2

Other National Media

Army Times

Air Force Times

Boston Herald

NPR (KPBS) 1, 2 and 3

Keen News Service

The Advocate

Online News and Blog Sites

Perez Hilton


Huffington Post


City Local News


My Fox DC

Washington Examiner

NBC Washington


Minneapolis Star Tribune


Seattle Post

Ozarks First

Miami Herald



Tucson Citizen




International News

Agency France Presse (AFP)

Straits Times (Singapore)

The Times of India

Canada TV

The Guardian

La Raza


Portugal Gay-EUA

CNN International

LGBT News and Blog Sites

AmericaBlog Gay 1, 2 and 3

Edge Boston

San Diego Gay/Lesbian News

365 Gay.com

Just Out


Washington Blade


Pam's House Blend

On Top Magazine

Pink News

South Capitol Street


Black Christian News

Pride In Utah

Firedog Lake

Fire Dog Lake



Getty Images

Associated Press

Yahoo News Photos

Yahoo News Photos

Washington Blade

SF Chronicle

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There is significant criticism of GetEQUAL and the test isn't whether these publicity stunts get attention, it is whether or not they change any minds or garner any support. If we are honest and objective about that reality, GetEQUAL hasn't accomplished anything.

Participation would be another reasonable test. There are very few who have shown up for the 4-5 "rallies." They know they're not effective.

Conversation beats confrontation every time. When Robin McGehee finally got a low-level meeting at the White House (Brian Bond) he wouldn't even talk to her. He listened and she rambled on about every topic he actually knew more about.

I know you see a benefit to "attention," via press coverage, but we are not a secret anymore. 98% of the American population knows about our struggle.

The $700,000 wasted on a dozen publicity stunts could have been better spent engaging people and enlisting support. GetEQUAL has built any support for any LGBT-issue.

I am not the only one that has criticized this organization, there is plenty out there - unless you simply want to ignore that.

This from a person who has said this:

Collectively we seem to keep obscuring the real goal – equality. “Equal Rights” are not equality. Making us a “special class,” “protected class” or a “minority” only perpetuate our differences – instead of confirming our “sameness.” As a gay white man I do not want to be “tolerated” or “protected.” I would rather not gain “minority” or “victim” status, either. I think that would be counterproductive.

And this:

We are not much closer to equality than we were 40 years ago and WE DO NOT HAVE A MOVEMENT. If we did, more than 10% of our Community would actually be involved.

And this:

For the first time in the history of our Movement we must figure out how and when we can win. To that end, I am offering $100 million to the individual, group or organization that can create a verifiable strategy to win our full equality. We have many creative minds in our community and I am convinced that if we shift our focus to winning, we will find the solution

Assimilationist, make nice, same old same old failed ideas and efforts that didn't work in the hundred years before Stonewall, and were ostensibly abandoned but still guide much of the white, wealthy, male leadership of other organizations.

While sitting on 100 million dollars that he refuses to use when that's more than any other person has donated to the LGBT causes at all.

So yeah, we should ignore that.

Do you have any ideas?

Yes, most of which I'm already actively doing, including running for office, and I've already told you them.

You are the one, however, who hasn't put forth any ideas.

Is it official? I haven't seen anything yet except talk. I think it would be great but has it been actually done yet? What office?

Congress. PAC is formed and filed (though I have to raise a thousand bucks still), and I'm just waiting on the secretary of state to announce deadlines so I can start gathering signatures.

So yes, it is official.

Olivia Watkins | November 19, 2010 4:32 PM

we have been hiding behind the scenes and trying to get things done the nice way and you can see where it's gotten us -- nowhere. it's time to start showing washington that we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore. if we want things to change in a timely fashion then we have to get out and make it happen. maybe you're happy hiding in your house waiting for someone else to do the work but i personally am ready to make the change happen. maybe you should look inside yourself and decide what's really important to you.

Why do the few supporters of GetEQUAL suggest that the opposite of GetEQUAL is "hiding behind the scenes and trying to get things done the nice way."

Nobody is hiding and being "nice." Most of us are trying to get people to stand with us and support our full equality. We do that in many ways.

You are just like Robin McGehee who repeatedly suggests that she is here to save the day with "anger." Her anger has wasted $700,000 that could have gone to many authentic efforts, like protection for bullying victims.

Oh Andrew! You are so out of touch with reality. I don't know you, but you talk like you're a little drunk on HRC cocktails. GetEqual is getting my attention. I couldn't be happier with Robin McGeehee. She did more in the past 3 days for equality than HRC in its history.

Blessings and happiness to you!


It's funny how it is perfectly okay for GetEQUAL and their dozen followers to criticize HRC, but you can't take any.

No surprise there.

Oddly enough, Andrew, HRC has a history of specifically and intentionally working to further marginalize some LGB people --and Trans people in particular, as well as lying out their hind end on several occasions.

They do some things well -- things like assimilationism and tokenism and getting business to support benefits which are in their interests anyway.

They earned the criticism they receive, though. Get Equal isn't perfect by any means, but they haven't gone out of their way to justify running a bus over any part of the LGBT.

If you are going to defend HRC, why haven't you given them that 100 million dollars of yours, since you have stated that you believe the methods they use are ones to pursue?

You need to stop saying what isn't, and focus on what is, Andrew. Your negative nabobish nattering has reached an end...

Toni Andrew has been critical of HRC like forever. Did you miss all that? I think you are attacking without cause.

Oh, I Know he's been critical of the HRC.

Andrew hates everyone.

Without cause, though? Hardly. Those quotes I posted earlier are just *some* of the things he's said in the past. The man -- presuming he is such, of course, given the name -- is, intentionally and willfully seeking to undermine public opinion and support of a group or people who are actually doing something, while he himself does absolutely nothing except bitch and moan about it.

He's the sort of person that makes up the second worst kind of LGBT person, presuming, again, that he actually is such: the sort that works against everything.

When he does something worth a damn on behalf of LGBT people that can be verified, he'll get a bye.

Until then, I'm giving him what he appears to think is the best way to handle stuff -- I'm bitching about every little thing he says.

TIme honored tradition: do unto others as you would have them do unto you -- I'm just treating him the way he's asking to be treated.

I think a little civil disobedience can be good in order to get a point across. it does seem to me to be more of a publicity stunt for attention to themselves more than anything.

i didnt used to think so, till I saw them in action.

my personal experience with get equal would be, very angry young people MOCKING OTHER EQUALITY supporters at a protest.
myself being mocked by them at a NOM rally for being a peaceful quiet protester. being told i had no place there.

they came off as obnoxious and disrespectful to me, and no doubt NOM supporters. no mind's changed their, except maybe mine. i think they are NOM's dream come true poster children for their scare tactics.

You talk out of both sides of your mouth. Last week you said GetEqual was ignored. You said that lobbying and protest were fruitless. You said that there were not 60 votes in the Senate. And now, when the President and the Senate are saying there are 60 votes, and that they will take it up, and the media are featuring GetEqual and reporting on the lobbying and the protests......now you say we cannot show any results?

You are not interested in the truth, or the facts. You are simply a disgruntled person with an axe to grind, and time to bad-mouth good people on every blog and website you can find. It's sad, and evil. The one being ignored isn't GetEqual.

It's you.

If you have evidence of "National Media Coverage," please post it. Your claim that it exists isn't trustworthy. Last week you claimed Democrats had "assured" everyone that DADT would be repealed and they never did. I sense a pattern here.

Most of the media has ignored GetEQUAL. LGBT Blogs will cover some of the stunts, but the claim of "national media attention" is without merit.

When you took the temporary position of Chair on the Temporary Board you promised real "metrics" to provide evidence of GetEQUAL's success and you haven't done that. In case you haven't noticed EVERYONE is talking about DADT and they are doing so because it's in the news. They aren't doing it because of a few silly publicity stunts.

I believe you now see "publicity" or attention as a means to raise money. I bet you're all working on your next "please send money" email right now. It will be ignored like the last one.

As far as the 60 votes, we'll see. I don't believe DADT will be repealed in the lame-duck session, but keep "hope" alive while you ask for donations.

A bunch of responsible and authentic LGBT organizations could really use the $25,000 per month your kids waste on salaries. Groups that are actually making a real difference by getting people to join us, not avoid us.

I'm sorry, I just don't see a causal link between the actions of GetEqual and the recent motion on DADT. The actual link seems to be the pending release of the DoD report (which many, including GetEqual, wanted to scuttle) and the cover it now provides Republican senators (and two democrats). Gates said all along that they needed to finish the report first to build consensus. I think we should be giving the credit to the leadership in the armed forces who have stood by us throughout this process (and continue to run up against institutional homophobia) and the discharged service members who have worked around the clock behind the scenes.

I agree and I think it is fair to say that GetEQUAL hasn't changed any of the dynamics of DADT.

Honest people can simply ask themselves if what we are seeing now would have occurred without the heckling, handcuffs and sit-ins.

There was a deal negotiated before GetEQUAL started their antics and it is the same deal they are currently working on. It still requires 60 votes and the proof will be in the vote - if that even happens.

Direct Action makes news. It's an additive. Maybe you think things would be the same without this additive, but that's your best guess...and I would say a biased one.

GetEqual may only be a drop in the bucket, but the bucket is made up of drops. My expectations are realistic. I would spread the credit to multiple organizations and individuals that collectively kept the pressure up on the Senate and the administration.

The delusional part of your assessment is that these publicity stunts put any "pressure" on the Senate or the Administration. There is mounting evidence they did the opposite.

The delusional part of your assessment is that you think the press doesn't matter. The press coverage puts pressure on the Senate, Andrew. The press coverage. The fact that people are still paying attention to it and that it's not going away.

There is no evidence that it has done any harm. Your judgment is clouded by your bias.

Actually my perception is that the biggest factor moving the repeal forward was the election of quite a few tea party candidates to Congress. I think everyone is being blindsided. The defense department, the administration and the old line republicans understand that balancing the budget will require severe reductions in the war spending and this is a way to bypass the inevitable while they are still getting a grip on the new dynamics that will unfold in 2011 in both houses of Congress. When politicians focus attention towards one hand it is a wise person that watches the other hand.

McCain is desperate to pass the Defense spending bill quickly and did float a trial balloon to see if he could get DADT repeal dropped but his real bottom line is that he doesn't want the incoming house members to have a crack at the already passed house version.

Just saying ......

Has anyone ever considered that the reason we don't really have leaders is because we are terrible followers?

GetEqual basically gives the press a reason to report on DADT. Reporting on the procedure or lobbying just isn't that interesting of a story by itself. It's part of a bigger picture, a link in the chain.

Can someone give Dan Choi an LGBT history book though? Seriously.

Publicity = $

The GetEQUAL Appeal for Donations:

The folks arrested at the White House fence were charged with failure to obey lawful order -- which carries with it an obligation to return to DC on December 15 for a hearing. And we're raising money now in preparation for those expenses.

Will you support these 13 brave men and women by contributing to their travel expenses and legal fees?

It can cost anywhere from $100-$500 per person if we end up having to enter a plea, and it'll likely cost $200-$300 for most folks to be able to return to DC in December for the trial. So we need to raise about $7,150 in order to pay the legal and travel fees for everyone who participated in this action.

Please support those arrested at the White House by contributing to their travel expenses and legal fees.

Thank you so much for your ongoing support and your ongoing ferocity!

Get Out! Get Active! GetEQUAL!

Robin McGehee, Director

- no mention of the $30,000 per month in salaries for the professional activists.

Renee Thomas | November 19, 2010 6:53 PM

And incidentally Sparky, no mention of your fabled
100 Million dollar war chest either . . .

It's in his chest along with his fabled "research" that when asked for proof he has none. I think it's hiding with Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.

1. ABC News put the AP announcement on their website but it was not on any of their broadcasts.

2. CNN put the AP announcement on their website but it was not on any of their broadcasts.

3. MSNBC put the AP announcement on their website, but it was never in any of their broadcasts.

4. CBS put the AP announcement on their website, but it was never in any of their broadcasts.

This is not "National Coverage." The "story" went out over the AP wire and as is customary that brief mention was put on the four Networks website ONLY. The brief mention also did not mention "GetEQUAL."

If you want to claim "national media attention," provide some links to verify that. Otherwise it's just more bull-shit.

It was mentioned on The Rachel Maddow Show, which is on MSNBC.



I'm sure you'll find some reason to say that doesn't count. But the funny thing is, Andrew. I don't even care about GetEqual that much. You make me defend them because, ironically, I think your tactic is faulty. I think at best GetEqual helps add to the news already out there, and at worst are just ineffective. But what you're doing, Andrew, I consider harmful.

I've said the same to other people who do nothing but spend large amounts of energy railing against one organization or another. If you don't like what they're doing, just don't donate to them.

Congratulations! You're doing a lot with a little, and that's wonderful and impressive.

And with all due respect, Andrew, just don't. Please? Thanks.


AH, yes, because Andrew is a judge of what constitutes national media coverage when AP is the largest media coverage source.

I seen this Contribution by Jillian, and thought I might comment but after reading though the comments I figure what would the best thing for me to do is to run for cover. I however often do not do the best thing for me.

In my humble opinion, I have yet to see in history where people were just given their rights when they were denied them without protest, argument, dialog, even violence. I site the 188 years from the founding of this country until the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Or how about the rights of Women to have a say in government when they just got the vote in 1920 just over 90 years ago? It took marches and imprisonment in both those cases. How about Native Americans? Did Wounded Knee help or hurt their cause? We chide the Democrats for not having the guts to pass bills like ENDA or failing to remove DADT but really we have been as quiet or more so than they have been to the Republicans who basically stole the dialog for this last election. If we wish to have our rights we will need to get far louder than we have been. At least that is my opinion on the matter.

During my youth I experienced faiths (Church of the Brethren and Mennonite) which emphasized social awareness and peaceful civil disobedience.

Today this day, I remember family members and
family friends who marched (and some who were arrested) in the civil rights struggles in the South.

Good point. I admit that I became too passive when it came to keeping people in government accountable and ignoring local grassroots efforts to bring about change. Mia colpa!

Just so we're clear, it wasn't "National Media Attention," as Jillian's headline claims, but Rachel Maddow-MSNBC media attention.

The important question is why has the most of the media ignored GetEQUAl? Why has most of the community ignored them?

It's 2010 and the world has changed. Historical references don't make something effective today. The childish strategy of "embarrassing, humiliating, shaming or irritating someone into submission" is counterproductive. It seems the media understands hat and most of our community does, too.

LOL I knew it. You'd change the definition of national media attention to fit your narrative.

Just to be clear Andrew, what you're doing probably isn't going to stop GetEqual. All you're doing is creating animosity and resentment. You're just irritating people...while claiming that irritating people doesn't work.

If you believe they're so ineffective, then just ignore them. Yeah, they got money, but so does Lady Gaga. What Lady Gaga did was ineffective in getting 60 votes. But it's not like you can stop gay people from giving Lady Gaga money and worshipping her.

It really doesn't make sense to me for anyone to waste as much energy as you do on stopping GetEqual. I mean, that's you're goal right, not to change GetEqual, but to stop them.

I guess you miss the point Romeo. GetEQUAL's stunts are counterproductive. I'm not simply saying they are ineffective, they are hurting us.

Accountability means we hold tactics, methods, strategies and organizations accountable. It means we determine if something is effective or if it actually alienates people.

Ultimately, we have to get people to join us, to stand with us for Equality. Nobody wants to stand with GetEQUAL, in fact they run the other way. The White House wouldn't even have a conversation with them

If you think they are effective, go ahead and donate - nobody else is. We can do better and we can do smarter. GetEQUAL is simply about getting enough attention to raise money. It won't work. We're smarter than that. Most of us.

Andrew, my point is you think they're counterproductive. That's your hypothesis. It's not a fact, it's just how you see it. All you're doing is interpreting what's happening. So, yeah I'm smarter than that.

I rarely see people agree with you, Andrew. You have the minority opinion on GetEqual. It's not as though they're the only career activists on the planet. Virtually every gay rights organization has pretty highly paid people. If your one man crusade was more broad and calling out more organizations, it would make more sense.

The only organization I ever donate to is Seacoast Outright.

It isn't just how I see it - there has been plenty of criticism of GetEqual, including on Bilerico. At the heart of this disagreement is whether or not "attention," especially generated in the manner GetEQUAL tries, is helpful or not. We're not a secret anymore. We are a big part of the cultural conversation and nearly every one in America knows about us. Something as simple (and authentic) as It Gets Better has been a wonderful educational and enlightening project that has reached millions and didn't waste $700,000 or pay "professional activists" $90,000 a year. That project attracted very real and sympathetic "attention" and probably changed many minds or at least got them to think.

Lately, the rationale has turned to "keeping the story in the media" and I think that is plain bull-shit. When Joe Lieberman held a press conference and said "I think DADT Repeal has 60 votes," (which got a lot of National Media coverage), he wasn't moved by GetEQUAL's stunts. He has taken on a Leadership role for DADT repeal and doesn't need street theater. The media doesn't either. It already is a big story.

The other simple test of whether GetEQUAL is effective or if we, as a community, believe they are is determined by participation and contribution. GetEQUAL hasn't generated either.

I don't express concerns or ask that we embrace equality so that others will "agree" with me. That isn't important to me or to our community. I want people to hold all tactics, methods, strategies and organizations accountable. That includes HRC, the Task Force and HRC - I do not see any purpose for those organizations. Yet, they still raise and waste a combined $80 million a year. Nobody holds those organizations or their tactics (none actually has a strategy) accountable.

For forty years we have had a half-assed movement. We have never had a strategy or plan to actually win. It has essentially been "throw everything at the wall and hope some of it sticks." Because of that most people will not express concerns or question tactics or the use of limited resources. Everyone simply encourages and praises anything and everything - without regard to their value. That's just cheerleading and we're better than that. We need a cohesive strategy to win and that starts by embracing accountability not matter how fond we are of a tactic or an organization.

I would also point out that GetEQUAL began their endeavor by claiming "nice didn't work" and they criticized HRC and others. They insulted many in the non-profit LGBT advocacy industry by suggesting we needed to "demand" our rights and that other organizations had failed to hold politicians accountable. Robin McGehee asked Joe Solmonese if he was going to quit his job if DADT wasn't repealed this year, yet she didn't volunteer to quit for the same reason.

Our movement, isn't. We need accountability or we will never have a winning strategy. I stopped giving HRC money a few years ago because they didn't have a strategy. It took GetEQUAL 7 months just to realize they needed a Board of Directors and By-laws. To this day they have never provided a simple rationale for their stunts, but they do have a "temporary board."

I bet you wouldn't tolerate that from Seacoast Outright, which incidentally is an excellent organization. In my opinion $700,000 would have been more useful and effective if it went to them and other authentic organizations.

I appreciate your comments.

The reason I donate to Seacoast Outright is because, aside from being my Alma mater, I don't have a lot of money to donate and I feel I can a get bigger bang for my smaller buck.

We don't have a cohesive strategy because we come from different places and are at different places. The problem then is class warfare.

You may look at it as throw everything at the wall an see what sticks, I look at it as all rivers run to the sea. Don't be a beaver.

The problem isn't "class warfare." We don't have specific goals and we've never organized around any strategy. I think there is a way to unite most in the LGBT community and it will inspire the +90% to participate or contribute.

I'm a frequent critic of GetEqual, but I think they've done a superb job of giving the media another reason to report on LGBT issues. It's boring to an audience to say "Well, there might be 60 votes." or the intricacies of the legislative process. Their soundbite worthy actions help put pressure on congress & the President to get this done this week & boy was their movement when no one said there'd be any.

I finally had time to put up the links to the media coverage that I had. See in the main post.

Interested people can work their way through the links, but they are disingenuous. I'm disappointed Jillian.

You list:

1. "NPR" and it was on KPBS in San Diego, not National Public Radio, and other local affiliates.

2. "Fox News" and it was just a photo on their website and it was NOT broadcast on Fox News.

3. "CBS News" and it was a mention on their website ONLY for the April stunt, it was NOT broadcast on the CBS News.

4. "CNN News" which was a short article on their website and NOT broadcast on the CNN network.

5. "The Atlantic" had two photos on their website only.

6. "MSNBC" simply posted the AP story on their website it was NOT broadcast on MSNBC News. (It was mentioned on Rachel Maddow, which would be the ONLY National Media Broadcast).

GetEQUAL has had some local coverage and a lot of coverage on several LGBT Blogs, primarily AmeriBlog, Pam's House Blend and LezGetReal (LGR has even given them free advertising).

The repeated claim of "National Media Coverage" is intentional misinformation in an effort to raise money. It takes a lot of donations to cover $90,000 (+ benefits and travel expenses) a year for professional "activists."

Dan Savage's "It Get's Better Campaign" has not only had significant National Media Coverage including ALL National Broadcast News Networks, IT HAS CHANGED MINDS and it cost less than $10,000. GetEQUAL has already wasted $700,000., money that could have gone to effective and authentic efforts.

We need to educate, enlighten and enroll people to support our full equality. Publicity stunts don't do that - honesty does. Don;t fund more of this self-serving lunacy. Support local groups that are making a real difference instead of simply trying to become "famous."