Don’t we already have a slew of national LGBT rights organizations that, they continue to tell us, are fighting for our civil rights on the federal level? Yes! So why are there plans in motion to start a new organization with the exact same mission?
Put on your blindfold, pick up a bat, and take your swing around the room, where you might hit the Human Rights Campaign or the National Center for Lesbian Rights or the Family Equality Council. These are the Gay Inc. groups that have tried and, by their own admission, failed to secure the decades-long struggle for equality legislation. Which explains why there’s the urge to start fresh, with a blank slate.
And that’s where plans to create “a new advocacy project that will work behind the scenes to facilitate pro-LGBT policy changes at the federal level and get LGBT people hired to key positions in the Obama administration” are underway, reports the D.C. Agenda. Which is funny, because haven’t groups like HRC, with their cagey communications efforts with supporters, been telling us they’ve been working “behind the scenes” all this time? That when Joe Solmonese turns up empty handed one congressional legislative session after another, it’s only because there’s a plan in place, to secure, sometime down the road, our equality?
Working through the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s New Beginnings Initiative — which has a list of 80 “initial recommended policy changes” for the Obama administration — we’re told the Gill Foundation and the Arcus Foundation are financially backing the new effort. Which is cool, ’cause Gill’s strategy of supporting local and regional LGBT-friendly campaigns has shown some results.
But really, what’s going to be so new about this project? If it’s functioning under NGLTF’s umbrella, doesn’t that mean the same leaders — who have heretofore delivered piecemeal federal legislation for LGBTs — will be running the same sideshow?
The (as-yet unnamed?) group is charging itself with three main objectives, relays Agenda: “providing technical assistance for pro-LGBT policy changes in the Obama administration, ensuring LGBT people are represented in the federal government and advocating for an LGBT voice in the broader administration agenda.” Not to sound terribly mean, BUT THIS MAKES US LAUGH. Because every single Gay Inc. group around has a version of those very goals in their own mission statements.
And here’s the the most curious part: The new project “seeks no attribution for its role.” Yes, they want to remain anonymous! They don’t want anybody knowing who’s pulling the puppet strings! And NGLTF’s New Beginnings Initiative will act as the front group. Sort of like the Mormon Church’s role with the National Organization for Marriage, minus the religion. But you know what this also means? ZERO TRANSPARENCY. And nobody to call out when this entire project, and its $1.2 million budget, ends up with the exact same thing we’re growing accustomed to: failure.
Thus far, all we know is NGLTF’s project director Matt Foreman will be leading the new group, which officially launches Feb. 1. And when it comes to cash money, some $650k is being budgeted for salaries of four total staffers, with $400k devoted to short-term consultants. That leaves $150,000, or 12.5 percent of the initial $1.2 million, left to actually enact change, however this new power group expects that to happen.
Listen: We’re all for new and exciting ways to put pressure on Obama & Co. to do things like defend civil rights and rid the nation of discrimination. But nothing about this project shows organizers have any new ways of thinking, any revolutionary ideas about activism, or anything planned that won’t just be rinsing and repeating the same failed tactics as they’ve tried before. We’d be elated — ELATED! — to be proven wrong.
So try us.