Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Why Shouldn't You Give To GetEqual?

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | March 11, 2011 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: Get Equal, GetEqual, Jonathan Lewis, Robin McGehee


Political representation comes at a price. You have to go along to get along. When LGBT organizations started demanding that politicians pass ENDA, repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, and repeal DOMA, politicians started running for the exits. All three of these bills were declared D.O.A. in the last session of Congress. Our major lobbying organizations folded.

And then along came GetEqual.

Whatever you may say about it, GetEqual does not take it lying down. Without GetEqual and Dan Choi and 12 other brave souls chaining themselves to the White House Fence, not once, but twice, and ready to do it a third and fourth and fifth, we would not have seen DADT repeal in Congress.

If you're a supporter of the idea of an effective LGBT direct action organization, one that isn't afraid to speak truth to power and kick 'em where it hurts when and if necessary, why aren't you pulling out your credit card and clicking here to donate? This is not a rhetorical question.

Right-wing fanatics have big money behind them to send their message of discrimination. Why shouldn't we have an equally loud and clear message? That message is "Discrimination is wrong. We will not be silent."

What GetEqual has accomplished in one year is startling. What it will accomplish next year is amazing.

GetEqual has more than proven its usefulness to the community, time and again. It's been primarily funded by a generous man, Jonathan Lewis, and his family, who didn't want to see us go down without a fight. Now it's time for the community to speak up and be heard.

In its first year, GetEqual helped launch and participated in almost 50 different direct action operations, and empowered thousands of activists who engaged in direct actions. National, local and community media have carried the GetEqual message far and wide. Our Executive Director, Robin McGehee, a young mother with two children, has created these campaigns on a very reasonable budget to great effect. Her bang-to-buck ratio is extremely high.

Here's the 2010 recap video:

In its next year, GetEqual will focus on working directly with local activists around the country, focusing on direct action as a tool to create change on the local and state level. We provide training and support and, most importantly, the knowledge that many, many others around the country are on board and behind them 100%. We have a well thought out plan, due to be released soon, and some funding commitments. But we're not home free.

GetEqual also has a sophisticated grasp of change theory and the means, the resources and the will to engage in the actions necessary. It is radically inclusive, correctly understanding the LGBT community as a coalition at the intersections of many communities of many races, ethnicities, classes, genders, sexualities, religions, ages, and abilities.

getequal_whfence copy.jpg

Well I know that there are many critics of GetEqual, and many worthy organizations. But for me, the importance of GetEqual that puts it at the top of my list lies in the kind of person I am. I will not go down without a fight. I will not let the people around me go down without my voice having been heard to speak the truth. I cannot remain silent when I see the injustice and the unfairness and the lack of protection for my community.

Our community is unequal in so many ways: few employment protections, rampant housing discrimination, immigration discrimination, unequal and derogatory treatment from physicians and pharmacists, no civil marriage, interference with adoption rights, denial of military and marriage benefits for trans people -- the list is far too long.

Politicians often do too little, too late, and our lives are not a priority. I will not, and cannot, be silent in the face of the people who call me every week, begging for help after harassment at work, after being mistreated by the system, being left powerless -- often destitute -- and depressed in body and soul. Young people are the most affecting, and my heart bleeds when I talk to youth who have been thrown out of their homes and into the streets to face want and danger. I want to help everyone in fear and danger, but I cannot do it one at a time and get very far. I'm overextended as it is, but I am absolutely, completely and totally committed to our community. GetEqual goes where I cannot.

It is imperative to have an organization that speaks truth to power. GetEQUAL is such an organization, and one I strongly believe in. That's why I'm on the Board of Directors. I've put my money on the line and spend my free time working to let the politicians know that our lives and our rights should not play second-fiddle to every up and down of the economy -- and that, when the economy sinks, as it has now, we shouldn't be at the bottom of the barrel.

I know that some of you don't like GetEqual, shrug your shoulders, think it's hokey, or another HRC, or don't believe in direct action. I'm not talking to you. I'm also not speaking to the people who are having economic problems. I'm not asking for you to give up the roof over your head.

I'm speaking to those of you who believe in the power of direct action, of speaking up, of telling the truth, of not being a silent victim. I'm talking to those of you who have resources, and who believe that our community must not be silent in the face of a rising tide of homophobia and biphobia and transphobia. I've donated my time and my money, as have hundreds of others, to ensure that our message is heard. I'd like to make sure that it is heard loud and clear. We will not be silent about the discrimination we face daily.

Click here if you support the message that GetEqual is sending. Whether you want to give $2 or $200, what matters isn't the amount. It's the message that you support what we are trying to accomplish, and that this is an important message to send nationally and locally, and that you are behind this message.

Note: Jillian Weiss is on the Board of GetEqual. She is also a host of the D.C. fundraiser on Sunday, March 20 at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. You may contact her here if you are interested in learning more.

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Stuart Wilber | March 11, 2011 9:11 AM

I’ve been around longer then I like to think about – I skipped school to watch the McCarthy/Army Hearings; I witnessed Harvey Milk gunned down and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and DOMA signed into law by a president I thought cared about my rights. And, like you I saw ENDA languish in committee.
But I’ve also seen us fight back at Stonewall. And in San Francisco. And in D.C. And in Corpus Christi. And day before yesterday in Columbus. And I’ve witnessed an evolution in attitudes I didn’t dare dream about when I was a boy of nine with a crush on my teacher. Or when I was in high school ‘experimenting’ with other guys or in college sneaking into a gay bar through the back door.
And although I know that these changes have been made through the efforts of many individuals and organizations, I think some of the most effective have recently been made by GetEQUAL. All struggles for social justice have included civil disobedience; GetEQUAL is the organization that includes non-violent civil disobedience as a tool to achieve LGBT civil rights. Because it takes money to spur social change, in addition to the more established LGBT organizations like HRC and Lambda Legal and GLAAD and The Task Force, John and I donate to the new kid on the block, GetEQUAL. Most of the institutions that support our equality rely on a few wealthy donors for much of their budget. I am grateful that these individuals have shared their prosperity, but their contributions don’t cover all of the expenses. Besides it is not solely their movement. It is my movement. It is your movement. It is OUR movement.
That’s why I support GetEQUAL, and why I hope you and your friends will, too.

Thank you, Stuart, for reminding us about the proud history of social disobedience in our community. I'm so with you when you say "It is my movement, it is your movement, it is ourmovement.

Amen to that I like getequal its nice to see someone actually standing up for what they believe in HRChas its place also but the incessant begging for money gets under my skin I would rather give to getequal myself

Thank you, Larry, for your support of GetEqual.

Has GetEqual done anything at all for trans rights? I cannot in good conscience support any "gay rights only" org, and GetEqual's role in pushing the rightfully low-importance issue of DADT repeal at the expense of ENDA makes me deeply suspicious of them.

Excellent question, Desiree. GetEqual certainly did a lot of actions to try to get ENDA moving, and you can find info on the GetEqual ENDA campaign here. The continued exclusion of transgender people from the military is very much on our minds, as is the controversial trans rights bill in Maryland. GetEqual has two transgender members of the Board, and we have worked with trans activists around the country, like this, for example. I am open to any suggestions you might have for direct actions that will move trans rights forward. Our plan for the next year includes working with trans rights activists around the country. Keep asking the good questions, Desiree.

Thank you for this answer - I just want to add a follow up question:

Since ENDA isn't a trans-specific issue, is GetEqual focused at all on supporting actions and issues that are specific to trans people? Things like insurance coverage, streamlining documentation changes, states that don't have any ability to change birth records?

Good question, laughrioTgirl. GetEqual has not yet focused on insurance coverage, streamlining documentation changes, or states that don't have any ability to change birth records. However, I think we should look for an opportunity to do something specific to the trans community. We generally look to see what situations are developing in which we can focus media attention. If you have suggestions on something developing along those lines, let me know and I will push it.


I'm onboard with you and GetEqual. In fact, I am working with the local Virginia unit of GetEqual. Like you, I believe that civil disobedience and direct action is sometimes a requirement to pushing forward our battle for full equality under the civil laws.

Thanks for your support, Michael, and thank you for your great work in Virginia.

Chris Wells | March 11, 2011 1:22 PM

So Bil goes away and we see Bilerico turning into a fundraising vehicle? Are we going to open this up for all GLBT organizations to make a claim for fame and funding? GLAD needs our support to continue the fight for marriage equality, as does AFER as does Courage Campaign. Heck lets not forget all those AIDS Service Organizations that are in desperate need of funding right now. Can we have a daily call for money from the statewide organizations too? Or is that not good enough for the GetEQ board member and contributor to Bilerico?

Chris, Bilerico has always provided a forum for our community and the work we're doing. You're certainly welcome to make an argument that GetEqual, or GLAD, or AFER isn't doing work worthy of support. In fact, I think it's important that we carefully consider where our resources are going, as I recently discussed on Bilerico. I think discussing whether GetEqual, or GLAD, or AFER is an organization worthy of people's resources is a good thing.

In addition, I welcome a discussion of your point: Should our community organizations be asking for money, and if so, where's the right forum? Should they or shouldn't they do it on websites, blogs, facebook, and email? As a member of the community who has committed a lot of personal time, effort and money to direct action, shouldn't I be allowed to discuss GetEqual and its fundraising?

Actually, I have an idea, Chris. Intern Jake, who's in charge while Bil's away (but trust me, Bil's reading this) would love a Guest Post submission by Chris Wells on the issue of whether my post is appropriate for Bilerico.

There have been orgs that have done money asks on bilerico before, like the stonewall dems, the trevor project, various political campaigns, etc. It happens from time to time, and even posts from orgs without an explicit ask, in my book, are asks if they say their org is great at all, so you could add NCLR, HRC, GLAAD, and some local orgs to that list.

Jillian disclosed her affiliation with GetEqual and people can judge for themselves if they want to donate.

Thank you for the post, Jillian. What people may not know is that so many of us that work with GetEQUAL volunteer not only our time, but our personal resources to make these actions happen. We work our day jobs and spend our nights organizing in our communities. The only payment we receive is progress.

In Texas, we have seen progress not solely because of the GetEQUAL presence, but largely because of it. We have finally seen same-sex couples stand with others during a Valentine's Day mass marriage and refuse to be "less than." Near Corpus Christi, we triumphed over a bigoted school board who thought we would roll over and play dead when they denied a GSA.

And we are just getting started!

In a state where things seem so hopeless, we have found hope. We are coming together organizationally, but more importantly we are coming together as whole and complex human beings who deserve full equality and will not be negotiated.

Stuart Wilber | March 12, 2011 7:38 AM

Well put, Jay - but I would extend your observation and comments - in a country ..."where things seem so hopeless, we have found hope. We are coming together organizationally, but more importantly we are coming together as whole and complex human beings who deserve full equality and will not be negotiated."

Yes. GetEqual is making a difference. I contributed to them last year, and will contribute again this year. They're more about making a difference than about self-perpetuation, which is reason enough for contributing.

Yes. GetEqual is making a difference. I contributed to them last year, and will contribute again this year. They're more about making a difference than about self-perpetuation, which is reason enough for contributing.

Earlier today, I viewed an inspirational video entitled, "Today is up to you." Both capitalizing on and paraphrasing its content, may I say,

"Today I can gripe because someone dared ask for money to fight for my rights,

"Or I can be grateful for and support those that there are out there willing to take on that task when I am either too afraid or too lazy."

Which are you more likely to say?

Ted, I loved your questions. Although we have our share of gripers, I love our community because there are so many who do so much above and beyond to make the world a better place for us.