GetEQUAL has our attention–now what?

Jul 29, 2010 · 1985 views

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GetEQUAL keeps getting better and better at getting our gay attention, and making politicians nervous, but they’re losing the mainstream media. Are politicians asking themselves “Why is GetEQUAL mad at me,” when they should be asking “Why are the queers mad at me?”


  1. jimmy gruender says:

    I could not agree more that we need more direct action. But theorists groups out there doing it such as h.e.r.o in Phoenix who members where four of the people arrested along side getequal. We where also arrested in John McCain’s office. It is time for people to stand up.

  2. Andrea says:

    Yes, and some of us non-GetEqual activists here got arrested in Chicago for ENDA at Dick Durbin’s office. We would LOVE to see groups in every state start doing this.

    • AndrewW says:

      Why? How does it help us?

      You can;’t go around demanding if you don’t have a threat. What’s your threat? More embarrassment?

      The evidence that these stunts are not effective is the reality that they only draw a half dozen people. This doesn’t make us look strong – it makes us look insignificant. You don’t get a lot of people behaving this way because they KNOW it doesn’t work.

      It 2010, not the 60s or 70s. Grow up.

      • It seems that the threat of embarrassment HAS been enough. There were more than a few folks in the Reid camp reaching out to GetEQUAL and GetEQUAL supporters prior to his appearance at Netroots Nation to make inroads. I doubt GetEQUAL and the queers would have been much of a concern for Reid had it not be for the Vegas protest days before.

        If Reid is getting worried about embarrassment, he may, likely, be willing to make some of these votes a bigger priority than they might have been.

        Then again, I don’t pretend to know what’s going on in Senator Reid’s head. I just know direct action can’t hurt.

      • AndrewW says:

        But Harry Reid is ALREADY a supporter. He doesn’t have a magic wand to deliver 60 votes in the Senate. As of today we only have 54 votes. The DADT Repeal is going to be filibustered away.

        So, how did an attempt to embarrass him – which he co-opted into a great photo-op, help us? He didn’t make any promises except he would “return the ring when DADT was repealed.” How sweet.

        It is silly to think that any politician is afraid of a few misfits. Obama made Kip Williams look like a fool and it angered many Democrats. It didn’t HELP us. It HURT us. Heckling is not a useful tactic or strategy.

        GetEQUAL was formed by Jontahan Lewis and Paul Yandura to ’embarrass Democrats.” Nobody has made any sense out of that childish effort. It is counterproductive. The minimal attention that GetEQUAL has attracted has only hurt us. It has made us look stupid and insignificant.

      • Personally, I think its embarrassing that Harry Reid is the first Majority leader in history to have a 59 member MINORITY in the Senate. No Majority leader has EVER NEEDED 60 votes to pass any bill. There have been far more toxic periods in Washington–look at the 70s–and Senate leaders have still been able to find ways to pass bills, cross party lines, win over opponents, make compromises and get work done. We can’t just blame the Republicans–as awful as they are. Reid’s leadership is shameful. He is NOT a leader in fact, merely in name. I don’t want to see him lose his seat–I just really hope he finds a way to learn to be a leader. Its shameful.

      • AndrewW says:

        We only have 54 US Senators that are LGBT-friendly. There are 5 Anti-LGBT US Senators. We don’t have enough votes. Reid doesn’t have a magic wand and just like Obama he can’t change a Senators mind about us or force him to vote with Democrats.

        With a bunch of conservative Democrats, we have never had enough support for LGBT-issues. Reid know that. You should, too.

    • The nation, the legislature… public opinion was far more sharply resistant to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That was passed, not because everyone was on the right page, but because the leadership in the Johnson White House, the Senate and the House did the work to persuade folks to do the right thing and vote against what was safe and vote for what is just.

      If our leaders don’t have the skill, the courage and the influence to do their job as leaders, that is not our fault. If our leaders have constitutions of jello then this is what they get. Maybe it’ll inspire our leaders to have more courage when they see the powerless rise up and take risks to make an impact.

      Andrew, I respect your point of view, but if you’re going to criticize direct action strategy, what then would you have us do? More of the same? More sycophant servile worship of the Democratic party while we wait for them to prioritize our issues?

      To quote Stanley Tucci in The Devil Wears Prada, “Wake up, Six!”

      There will always an issue “more important” and more pressing for the American people than our rights, we will be fundraising and butt kissing eternally. Was ENDA more important in the great scheme of things than Health Care? No! Will it be more important than Climate Change? NO! Deficit reduction? No! Immigration? Of course not.

      If we continue to allow the Democratic leadership to use the LEGITIMATE excuse of “there is something bigger right now,” to hold us off, we’ll wait forever. Quite frankly, there is a LOT of bad in the world, a LOT of awful stuff that really needs to be fixed, and a lot of stuff that’s a lot worse than losing your career because you’re gay. However, losing your career because you’re gay is STILL awful, STILL an atrocity, and STILL an embarrassing injustice.

      Dems have had enough time to “prioritize” our rights and wait for it to be politically convenient. Its time WE as their EMPLOYERS dictate for them its time. WE are the boss, not them. I’m quite tired of the excuses.

      As a manager, I would NEVER have given an employee so many chances to do their job for this long. When you work for me, you work every single work day. You show progress and show results every single work day. You screw up three times? You lose your jobs.

      PS, WHY didn’t anyone care in primaries? This is why I’m a bit pissed at the “close the gAyTM” folks as well, despite the fact I agree with them. I DON’T want Republicans in power, but our incumbent Democrats are just as bad. I feel like we WASTED our opportunity to make change in January, February, March, April, May during a lions share of the primaries. As someone who covered the primaries in Illinois religiously, I was disappointed about the poor attention paid on the queer blogosphere while we tried to get hard-core pro-equality candidates to unseat lazy incumbents, then, suddenly, most of the primaries are over, and we now want to draw lines in the sand. “Don’t be mad at the Democrats, would you rather the Republicans?”


      –END RANT.

      • AndrewW says:

        People were afraid in 1964. The Nation was about to explode with riots and violence. When the Civil Rights Act passed two-thirds of America were racist. Today, 46 years later one-third are still racist. But, it was fear that lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Bill.

        There is no fear today. We are not marching in the streets because we can’t get a big enough group together. Times have not only changed, they are very different.

        I do not believe there is a “political solution” to our equality. Just because Obama and Democrats did well in 2008, it didn’t give us a majority of support in the US Senate. 23 States poll anti-gay and their Senators reflect that. I know of no “direct action” that will change those votes in the Senate. The only direct action that will work is changing minds in those 23 States – not all of them, but at least 8-10. Then – politically – it would be game over. Yet, we do no do that. Instead we claim “promises” where none were made and refuse to admit that all Democrats are not created equal. The only thing that will compel many of these Senators to change will be showing majority support in their States – their employers.

        I enjoyed your rant. I also appreciate your efforts. But, if we keep doing the same things, expecting different results – we’re crazy.

        Nobody has provided any evidence that “embarrassing Democrats” accomplishes anything. I do appreciate the fact that some people feel better because they get to vent, but that doesn’t change anything – especially minds.

        People will support our full equality, but we need to learn how to do that effectively. Slapping people isn’t an effective strategy – conversation is.

  3. As I say in the post, a clear problem here is that everything direct action gets branded “GetEQUAL.” Even with H.E.R.O., I WRONGFULLY labeled this a GetEQUAL action because the first reports on Twitter were that this was GetEQUAL because the first folks hearing about it were saying “its gotta be GetEQUAL, who else does this?” Do you see what I mean here? GetEQUAL has the right idea, let’s make sure that direct action becomes a tool in everyone’s kit, and not just something that gets connected to GetEQUAL all the time, even when they’re not responsible.

    So proud of you and the JTI folks, Andrea! You too Jimmy!

    In my dream gay community, the news is reporting a huge mass protest every week on Monday, and a huge mass lobby day on Wednesday. Carrot and Stick. Carrot and stick.

  4. I sense some tension here Phil, “As I say in the post” is somebody not paying attention?

  5. Marta Evry says:

    I was there, and this isn’t what happened. The table was reserved by the NN10 organizers – it was won in a raffle and given over to the winner for the entire weekend. However, someone screwed up and forgot to set out the reserved placard that morning. So when the raffle winner came over to take her seat, she was surprised to see it occupied.

    No security was called. Rather, the event Chairman, Adam Bonin, came over and asked the Get Equal organizers to move over two tables – still in the front row. Later, when Reid came to speak, Dan Choi was reserved a seat in the front and the NN10 organizers coordinated with Choi to give Choi’s West Point ring to Reid.

    This was a simple and unfortunate mix up, and it was resolved amicably.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks for the clarification. It sounds like the original reporter should have gotten another perspective before running his secondhand speculation about what had happened.

  6. AndrewW says:

    I think much of the criticism of GetEQUAL and other publicity-stunt organizations is directed at whether or not they are helpful. I wouldn’t object to them if somebody would provide some rationale for them.

    Maybe you can explain HOW trying to “embarrass” Pelosi (and other Democrats) is helpful. This ill-conceived idea that publicity stunts are somehow “holding politicians accountable” is just plain silly. Politicians are held accountable by the media and at the voting booth. A dozen clowns doesn’t scare anyone. I have never personally ’embarrassed” any of my friends into action.

    It appears you support GetEQUAL’s function of “embarrassing Democrats.” These public displays of anger and frustration – seeking to slap our friends and allies – help us how? Trying to embarrass Pelosi, Reid, Chairman Miller and even Obama don’t inspire them or even threaten them. Heckling is not a strategy, it is simply childish behavior.

    You are singing the same song as Gay Inc., by suggesting “everyone just do anything” and maybe “someday” it will add up to victory. Accountability requires that we all hold tactics, methods, and “stunts” accountable. We must determine what works and what doesn’t. It is the only way to determine a path to victory. I cannot think of a useful or effective “direct action” protest or civil disobedience in the last 20 years. The world has changed – we should, too.

    Just so that we are clear – I do not believe there is a “political solution” to our equality and I believe HRC has wasted $550 million (and 30 years) on “lobbying” efforts. They have nothing to show for it. We also have nothing to show for childish pranks to embarrass politicians. These stunts benefit Republicans, not us. Plus, not matter how disappointed we are with so-called “friends” I fail to see how pissing on them in public accomplishes anything. If we are going to rely on a magical political solution we need all the allies we can find. Embarrassing them defeats that goal.

    If you think demanding is effective, please explain how. Typically any demand is worthless without a threat. We don’t have a threat.

    I understand the sincerity of these actions, but I do not see the value. I want to know how it helps us. How does it help us win? How does it change minds? Maybe it makes a few people feel better expressing anger, but that doesn’t help our movement. Results, do.

    • Chris says:

      I was on the staff of two major politicians in New York, and I can attest that at least in Democratic New York, activists have a clear and direct impact on policies. When direct action activists stage some sort of action implicating a particular pol, especially if it gets any media attention (God forbid the NYT picks up on it), the entire staff knows about it and we have to “put out the fire.” Sometimes that means some phony statement, but sometimes it means a real negotiation of the policy issue. And activist pressure is DEFINITELY considered one of the annoying pressures/interest groups to which pols respond (which also includes lobbyists, funders, and annoying constituents). I’m giving the somewhat cynical take from my years in politics, but I doubt anyone with experience in the business would agree with you that direct action activists have no impact on policy. Quite the contrary.

      • AndrewW says:

        That’s pure speculation. Give me a real example of direct action being effective. perhaps, you are suggesting that activists might irritate a politician, but how does irritating them (or embarrassing) them help?

        Kip Williams tried to embarrass Obama on two occasions. Both time Obama embarrassed Kip. Everyone laughed at Kip Williams and Obama cast him as the “lunatic fringe.” But, that’s not the real damage – the real problem is the 70% of Democrats who saw that juvenile stunt as counterproductive.

        I wish it was as easy as “embarrassing” politicians into better behavior, but it’s a lot more complicated than that. Politicians respond to polls, not pranks. These childish publicity stunts don’t generate any changed minds or sympathy – they simply make us look stupid.

        I would be glad to see a verifiable example of direct action working in the last 20 years. In fact, find one and I’ll give you $100,000.

      • Chris says:

        The above is not “pure speculation.” I was on the staff of a key NY pol and was involved with policy decisionmaking. It goes way beyond irritating politicians — it’s pressure from an interest group, which is how we make decisions. I’m not giving a specific example of my personal involvement because I don’t want to identify myself, but I can think of dozens of times this happened, and how it affected which policies we focused on (and more than that).

        My overall point, of course, is that direct action is not prima facie worthless. I’m not sure about the specific actions of Get Equal, which I haven’t followed closely enough to judge.

        As far as other examples in the public record of “direct action working”, here are the first examples off the top of my head (as I watch Law and Order), no earlier than 1990:

        -protests against Giuliani era policy brutality and racial profiling resulted in changes in police procedures

        -Critical Mass protests resulted in fundamental changes in transportation policy

        -nonviolent protests against the School of the Americas have resulted in more oversight of the SOA

        -animal rights activists stopped Japanese whalers from viciously slaughtering some of the whales and resulted in new regulation of the industry

        -the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle ended the conference early and resulted in other voices being included in globalization negotiations

        -in the 90s, ACT UP distributed condoms and graphic safer sex packets to schools, which resulted in educating sexually active youth about birth control as well as changes to sex ed policies (for better and for worse)

        -Scientologists waged a campagn of terror that they might call direct action that resulted in their achieving tax exempt status against the better judgment of the IRS

        -Operation Rescue has terrorized thousands of women and doctors with its despicable yet very effective direct action. I would guess it was a factor in the anti abortion laws in some states

        I could go on and on with examples of direct action that worked. As could you, I suspect heh.

        Other factors affected some of these policy changes, but the direct actions were important and influential factors. And a couple of them were almost singlehandedly responsible.

        You can send the $100,000 as a donation in my name to the Ali Forney Center for Homeless and Runaway LGBT Youth. Thanks!

      • AndrewW says:

        That’s all wishful thinking and you know it. I asked for evidence.

        GetEQUAL believes that their actions created the DADT Repeal Compromise although they protested against it.

        If you want the $100,000 give me evidence. At the very least find some credible journalists that suggest that some protest or civil disobedience lead to a change.

        The truth is there is no evidence – there are only people, like yourself, who say it is effective because you will not admit being ineffective. David Mixner still promotes “protest” although we have no examples of one being successful in the last 20 years – he just won’t admit that it is an old idea. Find me some real evidence or admit that it’s all hype and not effective.

      • Chris says:

        Oh, I see. You’re a troll. This conversation is over.

        Take care.

      • AndrewW says:

        Well, without any evidence – you’re right, the conversation is over.

        Next time find some real evidence. It’s not okay that you have simply promoted something, you have to provide evidence that it is effective. we don’t need advocates, we need proof.

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