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More Questions Than Answers at Gay Marriage Equality Summit

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It’s like the set-up to a bad joke: “How many marriage equality activists does it take to get gay marriage?” That’s just one of the many unanswered questions raised by this weekend’s Equality Summit, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The 400-ish attendees came looking for answers as to why the No On 8 campaign failed to preserve gay marriage, and what the next steps towards marriage equality should be. Anyone expecting a definitive answer would have been setting unrealistic expectations, but with so many committed marriage equality leaders in one room, it was surprising to see just how far we have to go.

The leaders of No on 8 are not — and never were — a unified group.

The biggest and most obvious truth on display is that the leaders of the No On 8 campaign are not a monolithic block. At one point, L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center CEO Lorri Jean (who we’ll get to in a moment) angrily told one questioner that the No On 8 campaign “is not just [Equality California's] Geoff [Kors] and Lori! We’re just the only ones sitting here right now.” The difference between Kors’ well-publicized conciliatory tone stood in pointed contrast with Lorri Jean’s, who said in a conversation with pollster David Binder, “Looking around, I don’t think we made that many mistakes.”

the No On 8 campaign did not have a gay person in the room during political strategy sessions for the campaign

It’s hard to understate just how defensive Lorri Jean was at the summit. At one point, in a discussion about fundraising, I mentioned to her that it’s not just about raising money, but how it’s spent. I pointed out that Binder’s survey showed “the vast majority” of people did not find phone banking effective — and this was a major thrust of the campaign. She shot back, “Not our phone bank!”

I’m not alone in this impression. Later, she confessed that she did not know what to do differently, saying, “Either we listen to our consultants or we don’t.”

Kors, on the other hand, has had his come-to-Jesus moment. He mentioned many mistakes and repeatedly said he regretted that the No On 8 campaign did not have a gay person in the room during political strategy sessions for the campaign. “We should have been in the strategy room and part of those conversations — and that was a huge mistake.”

Three people involved with campaign spoke with me anonymously and laid the blame for Prop 8’s passage at the feet of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign, both of which ran the field operations for the campaign. These leaders are increasingly Balkanized and its clear that many of them blame each other.

At the morning plenary, one attendee became fed up with listening to the No On 8 leaders artfully dodge moderator Karen Ocambs’ questions and demanded they commit to answer all the questions posed by attendees (which Ocamb held in a three inch stack of note cards). Watch what happened:

It’s time to retire the phrase “gay civil rights movement.”

One of the things we hear a lot at Queerty is, “Who are these self-professed leaders? We didn’t elect them!” Well, here’s the plain truth: They are whoever shows up. Lorri Jean explained that the reason the No On 8 campaign had no openly gay political strategists running the campaign was that nobody offered. The gay civil rights movement is neither unified in purpose or strategy. It’s made up of multiple groups, each with their own agendas.

This might all sound really obvious, but nobody has a clue what to do. A gay rights movement implies motion, but in its current state, these gay leaders are not a ship without a captain, they’re a bunch of shipwrights without timber or blueprints with which to build a boat. I heard a lot of frustration from both attendees and leaders concerning how nobody ever seems to talk to each other about their plans. On this front, the Equality Summit scored its only win: It allowed people who care about marriage equality to get in a room and network.

Everyone has good intentions.

There was a lot, I mean a lot, of applause for the effort and commitment in the room. This was universal, for both No On 8 leaders and new activists. In fact, Jason Howe of Lamda Legal confessed at one point, “I expected more fireworks.” I’m actually happy there wasn’t. There’s enough maturity in the gay community to recognize that everyone’s on the same team and that the real problem is that we lack focus. The criticism aimed at No On 8 was always couched in terms of needing to know what mistakes were made so that they aren’t repeated.

Eva Paterson, a black civil rights activist who spoke at length about why blacks voted for Prop 8, also warned that the gay community must avoid circular firing squads. But for the most part, the focus was on holding people accountable and moving forward as opposed to recriminations.

Gays need to get real.

Paterson was the day’s keynote speaker and, as mentioned, she spoke mainly about why blacks voted for Prop 8. She was refreshingly candid, explaining that when your pastor tells you that gay people are going to hell (and so will their friends), you’re not going to support marriage equality. The crowd ate up the honesty. Look, gay people are, for the most part, exceedingly nice and accommodating folks. We like to think the world is fair, just and good. It’s not. Rather than allowing reality to make us bitter, we just need to accept that the waters we swim in are muddy and adapt.

Watch Eva Paterson talk turkey here:

She continues:

We have no strategy. We have no resources.

Well, that’s not really fair. It would be better to say that we have conflicting strategies and very limited resources. David Binder, who worked on Barack Obama’s campaign, pointed out that their grassroots strategy was effective because they started off with $600 million to build a network. And I’d say it’s a lot easier to elect Barack Obama than it is to make gay marriage legal in the U.S. This is the glum reality which hung over the convention hall all day.

Attendees were split on how to move forward. Many wish to progress with an immediate ballot initiative to repeal Prop 8 (mainly younger people and members of the Courage campaign), while others think that a “Yes” campaign would lose.

In a breakout session on the netroots/Web 2.0, I was struck by how small bore some of the issues were. Folks talked about Facebook groups and how to connect different groups together, but there was little talk of what to do with all the names and emails they collect. One of the benefits of Obama’s netroots campaign was that it empowered people to go out and do actual actionable things — door-to-door campaigning, house meetings and the like. We’re not having those discussions yet.

What’s really needed – and this may seem stunningly obvious – is a meta-organization that would be dedicated to creating a multi-pronged strategy for marriage equality in all fifty states, that would include legal maneuvering, public outreach and community building. It would not be responsible for implementing the strategy, but would direct existing and yet-to-be created organizations on what they need to be doing and where to allocate their time and energy.

The big problem with this is that it would take a lot of money to do this. Anybody have $600 million to spare? Interestingly, the one group that claims this title, the Human Rights Campaign, was asleep at the wheel during the Prop 8 campaign. An anonymous No on 8 insider was furious that the group “only spent $6 million on No on 8 while much smaller groups were raising $60 million. Don’t they understand that what happened in California set the whole country back?”

Here, the No on 8 leaders talk about what should happen next:

I walked away from the Equality Summit with a sense of the enormity of the challenges facing the gay community. The battle for marriage equality will require a new kind of thinking; it will also require each and every person who cares about gay and lesbian civil rights to do something about it. The problem is that nobody knows just what that “something” is yet. Yes, go talk to your friends and neighbors. Yes, be visible. But at this moment in time, we are a community without a way forward. We’re relying on the hope that courts will do the heavy lifting for us — and they may, but despite all our progress, the steepest route is the one directly ahead of us.

We may have lost a battle, but what we need to do is figure out what it will take to win the war.

By:           Japhy Grant
On:           Jan 26, 2009
Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

  • 35 Comments
    • PatrickD
      PatrickD

      “Herding Cats”. Yrs ago there was one ofthose, “I heard from a friend” stories about early aids activism. All the GLBT leaders in the USA(which tells you this is NOT a real story;>) gathered in DC. They all got all their individual agendas squared away and were about to vote…then a Loud Voice from the back yelled, “What about the Lesbians of El Salvador?” and they all fell back bickering and nothing got done.
      I’ve heard this story in a number of versions coast-to-coast in the last quarter century. The truth is we are a “movement” of negatives, that we are not-Het(and then there are folks who wish to add THAT letter to the alphabet soup!)….nothing more. We will NEVER get everyone to agree and should stop trying to. The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number should be our drive. In this debate I’ve heard(usually from Hets) that we should just outlaw Marriage itself, stupid and not going to happen. “Separate But Equal” never works in the long run but usually doing so means full Equality later.
      Trying to Please Everyone is as effective as dividing a cake equally amongsth a million people….pleasing NO ONE.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 8:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Qjersey
      Qjersey

      @PatrickD:

      Herding Cats! LOL

      And as for the mythical “Lesbians from El Salvador”– it has been my experience over the years working with many different types of L, G, B, and T groups (some were G, some argued to add the T, etc) that when a big mouth with an agenda complains about the “Lesbians from El Salvador” it is just that complaining. Too many times I have seen the big mouth not show up to help with any action on the “Lesbians from El Salvador” that they demanded.

      I was once publicly chastised (with the intent of humiliating me) for being a white guy running a group that was mostly people of color. I responded with that 1) I was elected by the group 2) I tried and tried to convince the members of color to take leadership roles to no avail and 3)that if a person of color had come forward to lead, I would step aside gladly.

      I was very angry and hurt by an “outsider” being so PC vicious, but I couldn’t let one “Lesbian from El Salvador” get in the way of the good work the group was doing.

      Put up or shut up is my currently philosophy.

      LGBT’ers like to show up at events like this and bitch, then they go home and do nothing.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 9:02 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PatrickD
      PatrickD

      @Qjersey: Been there;>! On aids/hiv, GLBT boards I get crap since I’m a White Male, though NO ONE ELSE ever seems to Volunteer to replace me. I was actually told when I lived in San Francisco by a Person Of Colour that since White Gay Men had brought aids into the US that it was our JOB to Volunteer to wipe away the Blood Debt(my wording. His was a bit different). Tuskeegee wasn’t my fault.
      I also get the same BS from my Spiritual community. I’ve been “Out” of all Closets since 1980 and get real tired of folks bitching that I “get all the attention”, yet they don’t go to meetings, city council, write the low-cal paper,etc for “fear” of being “Outed”. If a Gay Heathen Man with aids who works in Peds can, some Unskilled Temp worker or Video store clerk can….

      Jan 26, 2009 at 9:18 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bill Perdue
      Bill Perdue

      One of the things we hear a lot at Queerty is, “Who are these self-professed leaders? We didn’t elect them!” Well, here’s the plain truth: They are whoever shows up.”

      That may be true for mea culpa meetings meant to sanitize their image. I’ve been in the movement a long time and most of their meetings are unpublicized, invitation only with a few rich donors and movement hustlers whose first goal is to remain in first place at the trough, collecting those obscene salaries our donations make possible. Some of the key strategies were decided by clueless straight people employed by clueless movement hustlers. Is it any wonder we lost!?

      The last thing these movement hustlers want or would permit is the raucous give and take of genuine movement democracy where majorities decide policy in open meeting and where leaders are elected (shudder) and given stipends (shudder, gasp, faint) to live on.

      We have no strategy. We have no resources.

      The misleaders of No on 8 are drawn exclusively from the ranks and orbit of the Democratic (sic) Party. They lacked a strategy to combat the Obama campaigns aggressive pandering to bigots through neighborhood organizations and his appearance at the bigotfest at Saddleback where he empowered the bigot vote by saying that god hates fags too. “god’s in the mix” were his exact words.

      The fact that No on 8 was mired in Democratic (sic) Party’s circles was why they refused to take Obama to task when Warren, the mormons and the catholic hierarchy ran a blitzkrieg last minute campaign quoting Obama and costing us the election. It was Republicans and christist bigots who came in out in droves and it was Obama’s bigotry that gave them the go ahead to vote their bigotry.

      —————————————

      Our strategy has to be twofold. First we have to build a democratic (without the sic) movement independent of the Democrats and their Log Cabin cousins. Secondly we have to pick our fights and a (subject to recall) leadership to organize them. The fight over same sex marriage is one imposed on us by the religious right because it’s easy to win. The fight for an inclusive ENDA that addresses our needs as well as those of union members, people of color, women and immigrants is one we can win and one that will erase some of the demoralization caused by our constant losses on the same sex marriage front. Ditto for strong, inclusive hate crimes and hate speech laws. And we can still fight for same sex marriage but on our terms and on our field.

      The defeat in California was unnecessary and unexpected. More than anything else our movement needs a stand-up fighting left to counteract the influence of right centrists like Democrats and the Log Cabin Republicans.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 9:56 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PatrickD
      PatrickD

      @Bill Perdue: Ocassionally, that’s true but IME meetings generally are well-publicized ahead of time. What the Whiners usually mean is that while the info was in the low cal GLBT paper and free Progressive Papers(and even sometimes in the mainstream paper) no one personally had come up to them and asked for them to come….

      Jan 26, 2009 at 10:25 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bill Perdue
      Bill Perdue

      @PatrickD: Sorry but you lost me on that one.

      IME = ?

      If you’re talking about the “Why didn’t I know about that” folks I take your point but by and large groups like HRC and No on 8 are not democratic and never will be. They screw up because they lack a democratic internal life and there’s no one there to correct their disastrous lack of strategic vision.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 10:38 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gianpiero
      Gianpiero

      “the No on 8 campaign did not have a gay person in the room during political strategy sessions for the campaign” Yikes!! This is definitely news to me. Although I’m glad that they recognize this was an error, how blind were they not to recognize this last summer and INSIST that someone who had a stake in the game (other than a financial stake) be in the room? Astonishing and depressing news.

      I appreciate the overall report, Japhy. Thanks.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 11:20 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael Miller
      Michael Miller

      Did I really hear somebody involved in the Prop 8 fight claim that ten percent of the population is GLBT? (It’s in the first YouTube clip). Nobody who wants to be taken seriously has used that number for at least 20 years. I don’t know of any serious studies that put the percentage above three to four percent. If the people who were supposed to be creating political strategy in 2008 are parroting obsolete 1970s slogans, no wonder the campaign was a disaster.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 12:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bill66677
      Bill66677

      I am sick to death of people bitching about movement leaders. The vast majority of “movements”–whether for civil rights or tort reform, saving the whales, you name it–don’t elect their leaders…they hire them. They pay them a competitive salary. Why? Because it is a job, not a side project they volunteer for. Grow up, you freakin crybabies, and go work for the movement if you don’t like its current leadership. These people are largely very talented, extremely committed and hard working. The fact that they also make a living should not keep you up at night.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 12:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • RichardR
      RichardR

      The marriage fight, in my opinion, is and has been the wrong fight at the wrong time.

      The California effort, badly managed as it may have been, is not in vain because it has enormously advanced the national dialogue.

      As long as our government, itself, actively discriminates against us, imperatives to social justice are weakened. Overturn DADT, and all the rest will follow.

      “Well, if they’re willing to fight and die for us, maybe we shouldn’t care if they check us in at the Holiday Inn, maybe it’s okay for them to pay taxes as a couple.”

      Jan 26, 2009 at 1:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Anthony in Nashville
      Anthony in Nashville

      Lots of good comments so far. I agree that “gay marriage” was not the best issue to fight for. Something like government sanctioning of LGB (I’m not sure about the legal status of T relationships) marriages should have been the crowning point of the “movement” after securing employment and housing non discrimination protections.

      However, I understand that marriage was the main objective of the people who bankroll LGBT organizations, who I’m guessing do not have to worry about getting a job or place to live, so that is what got pushed.

      I also agree with the idea that it’s relatively easy to get involved with LGBT organizations, at least on a superficial level, because I(n) M(y) E(xperience) most people just don’t care. I have gone to organizing/political events here in Nashville that have drawn less than 10 people in a metro area of over a million! People can complain that they didn’t know what was happening, but they seem to know all about the latest guest DJ coming to the club that advertised in the same paper. Until people become more invested in the process instead of just bitching after decisions have been made, the LGBT community will be at the mercy of a small group of people.

      As far as whether we are 5 or 10 percent of the population, we will NEVER know our true numbers, so I think it’s a bad strategy to use our “population percentages” to lobby for gay rights.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 1:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mdmooreinsacramento
      mdmooreinsacramento

      Thanks, Japhy, for actual reporting, and some great moments for posterity on video…Too bad the EQCA website liveblog (by George) was so lame, but hardly surprising… Why did they even announce they’d do one?

      Jan 26, 2009 at 2:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • flightoftheseabird
      flightoftheseabird

      In defense of HRC a few items. First off yes HRC only gave $6 Million to the campaign. That was money directly from HRC, not money raised by HRC members. I donated a fair amount of money directly to EQCA, not through HRC although I am an HRC Steering Committee. We were told from HRC National to donate directly to EQCA. So I don’t think that point is fair.

      2) HRC was on the ground, sent staffers, mobilized phone banks, and did a lot of stuff behind the scenes. The intangible donations were far greater than probably any other group.

      3) EQCA and No on 8 did not want the face of HRC on the campaign. They asked us to stay in the background and do everything through them. They wanted it to be a local campaign, not a national one. We at HRC have received A LOT of flack for not being visible. So it is kind of no-win situation for us. HRC was not running this campaign so we defered to the people who were running.

      4) Last, HRC is a national organization not CA based. They have national goals and agenda. Unfortunately, HRC primary focus this year was to get an LGBT-friendly person in the White House (I don’t want to hear about how he is not LGBT-Friendly and all that clap trap, I know the arguments…but for sake of argument, you will have to just assume that of the two candidates, Obama is LGBT-friendly). The second goal is increase the numbers of LGBT allies in the House and Senate. The last goal is to defeat props in the various states. Which is why HRC was on the Exec Committee in name only.

      So yeah it sucks we lost this battle, but we will win and we just need to keep moving forward. Changing hearts and minds with our friends, neighbors, co-workers, writing letters and lobbying congress (both state and federal), electing fair-minded people to offices (might I suggest running if you don’t like who is in charge…I did).

      Jan 26, 2009 at 2:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bill Perdue
      Bill Perdue

      @Bill66677: Leaders should be elected and policy decided democratically. I know bureaucrats and movement hustlers don’t like that but the needs of the movement will impose that on them sooner or later.

      Then all the goldbricking self appointed losers will have to look for real work.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 3:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mark snyder
      mark snyder

      Let’s focus on our youth and trans rights instead.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 3:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • empress
      empress

      The problems of unification and focus are heavy. The task of “herding cats” is overwhelming, and has proven to be the core element when I have those anger/hopeless flare-ups. I was finally given a bit of peace yesterday that I would like to share.
      I attended the day long camp on grassroots organizing put on by the Courage Campaign (Camp Courage). Important points I have distilled down are as follows: the movement is now focusing on the personal. It is not about deciding which group to join, it is the individual face. One of the most vocal post-campaign complaints has been that there wasn’t enough gay exposure. It is accepted that rhetoric does nothing to further the “hearts and minds” tagline we’ve all heard (or used). So the culture of the movement is now to bring it to the individual. Back to the people, starting with just one, is the soul and success of grassroots. It often seems less appealing, as it does not produce the immediate sweeping results many of us are impatient for.
      Further, the main shift in theory, and the primary component to the “culture of the personal”, is KEEP THE SMALL AND SCATTERED SPLINTER GROUPS. They have numbers. They are functional, and if they are not, they shake themselves loose. The small and varied groups are how our community functions. These groups often mimic our social structure. We all have our own, often sizeable, social “pods” (my word). This idea eliminates the need for a solitary head/shaman/master, and the inevitable and damaging ego fight that would follow. The task now is to link up the small groups. This happens by town, then region, then county…
      If you are one who goes to meetings, has phone banked, is on a committee…you are a leader. Don’t worry about HRC or EQCA and Geoff Kors (he was an attendee in training at the camp, not on the agenda(btw)). Take it on. Strengthening your local community does not undermine the movement, it is the movement. Under this design, when an action is required, the groups are available to be mobilized. We wouldn’t need to divert resources to mount some (as yet to be discovered)magical large scale campaign, just to get volunteers and attendees. Grassroots is local. It works. Folks all over the country still reference the UFW movement. As much as many of us just want to know where to send the check, or which group to put on our start up page, creating a movement is full of time and dirt. We are in a netherworld now, as there are few hard points, and there is nothing to vote on. Now is when we work on the culture of the movement, in preparation for the moments that will come. If you are reading this, you are a leader, and you must take it on. Do not wait for someone else to tell you where to go. We have enough common ground to weather the comparatively unimportant minutiae.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 3:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mark snyder
      mark snyder

      @flightoftheseabird: HRC and EQCA share the same problem – a conservative, hierarchical way of functioning at their core. Functioning from a place of shame rather than pride, time and time again, is a losing strategy.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 3:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • heather gold
      heather gold

      @Empress

      Some of organizing Equality Camp were also at both events and share your opinion of the strength of the personal (which is a universally accepted idea it seems to me having been at both conferences and spoken to a number of grassroots and non-profits) .

      We’re also encouraged by the explosion of small groups. Cohering us all is not a small task but we are undertaking it. The skills of all the non-profits and all the grassroots groups will all be needed to make the change (again a shared goal) but the paradigm (yes I used that word, it does makes me flinch a little) of organization has shifted.

      There was plenty of optimism and coherence at Camp Courage, especially among past Obama volunteers and certainly among everyone who has come to Equality Camp and with whom we’ve spoken.

      There is a clear model of how to make this work: it’s online. It’s flickr. It’s upcoming. It’s Linux. It’s mozilla. It’s the unconference movement. it’s creative commons. These notions of how to create common cause and information sharing and transparency between groups and individuals provide a mental model. And most of all it’s the entrepreneurial understanding that money does not lead, it follows action and accomplishment.

      All of the veteran organizers I got to meet this weekend :Tori Osborn, Cleve Jones etc already know this stuff from all the grassroots work they’ve done. We’ve just learned online in the last decade how to scale it. The Net isn’t replacing personal contact. It’s supporting more of it, making it’s results visible and rewarding them.

      This is a new-ish thing in politics it seems as by necessity much of this movement will remain more decentralized than the Obama campaign. But that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be any less effective.

      Anything that works here is going to be scaled and applied to every state. Because like Cleve said this weekend (and all of us know) we want 100% legal equality in every corner of the nation. We already have our dignity. It is up to no one else.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 3:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ceazer
      ceazer

      I think the problem we have now in our community is that alot of people don’t take us seriously. For status, alot of people don’t think gay marriage is a civil rights issue. The more we say it is does not mean they buy it. Secondly we keep insisting that 75% of Americans and 90% of politicians are bigots, hate mongers etc because they support civil unions as opposed to gay marriage. Our constant use of the words ‘bigot, hate mongers etc dilutes the strength of these words and as a result people are not taking us seriously.
      First,I think we need a rational sounding spokesperson in the media- NOT Dan Savage, He was a poor spokesperson at best after prop 8 passed. Other minorities did not support us for one reason or the other. Now, calling them names?……does us alot of injustice and frankly, it gives the right wing a lot to say about us e.g calling us intolerant, racists etc Bill Orei;;y and his peers always have a fun day with it. We need intelligent leaders who will explain to people that things like marriage might not sound like a civil issue to them but it’s like LIFE to a gay couple. This message needs to be conveyed to people STRONGLY without the name calling.Black people had MLK, Malcom X and a bunch of other civil rights leaders who were truly inspiring and their works are still being celebrated. We need those kinds of leaders and we could also start by talking to people we meet who disagree with us.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 4:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • petted
      petted

      Its interesting to read the complaints about why the marriage fight now in reference to prop 8. Mainly it seems like people forget that California probably has the most legislation passed affirming our rights and that within California one of the last major areas where our rights are ignored is the discriminatory marriage policies – that’s not to say there aren’t a number of other important issues that affect the community in California which need to be addressed it’s just to recognize that in terms of equality before the law we are far closer to real equality before the law in California then in virtually any other state – I think Massachusetts may be edging ahead a little, though it can be hard to tell. Perhaps far more important is bringing the know-how and experience from past campaigns in States where we have been successful to those where the state government has yet to recognize our rights to be able to work and live without fear of harassment and eviction. Its true that California was a big fight financially, in terms of scale, and in terms of moral but it shouldn’t of been the big fight in Florida, Arkansas, and New Mexico. In the majority of states there is still much to work on, I know that a lot of work is being targeted on the national level because what happens in DC affects all of us but we need to strengthen our communities in Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, Utah, et al as well. Of course talk is cheap – I’m thinking about how I can get more involved in Texas, I hope others will as well.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 4:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John K.
      John K.

      Maybe I’m just one of the young idealists from whom this would be expected, but I say get this thing on the ballot EVERY SINGLE ELECTION POSSIBLE. Make people so tired of seeing it and hearing about it that they give us what we want. And make sure gay people are a VISIBLE part of the campaign this time. Obviously, money is the hard part, but I guess we’ll see how much people really care about this by how much time AND MONEY they are willing to put towards it. Keep the commercials rolling constantly, even between elections, and we will win sooner rather than later.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 8:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alfredo Munoz
      Alfredo Munoz

      The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its diagnostic list of mental disorders in 1973, despite substantial protest (see Socarides, 1995). The A.P.A. was strongly motivated by the desire to reduce the effects of social oppression. However, one effect of the A.P.A.’s action was to add psychiatric authority to gay activists’ insistence that homosexuals as a group are as healthy as heterosexuals. This has discouraged publication of research that suggests there may, in fact, be psychiatric problems associated with homosexuality.

      In a review of the literature, Gonsiorek (1982) argued there was no data showing mental differences between gays and straights–or if there was any, it could be attributed to social stigma. Similarly, Ross (1988) in a cross-cultural study, found most gays were in the normal psychological range. However some papers did give hints of psychiatric differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals. One study (Riess, 1980) used the MMPI, that venerable and well-validated psychological scale, and found that homosexuals showed definite “personal and emotional oversensitivity.”

      In 1991 the absolute equality of homosexuality and heterosexuality was strongly defended in a paper called “The Empirical Basis for the Demise of the Mental Illness Model” (Gonsiorek, 1991). But not until 1992 was homosexuality dropped from the psychiatric manual used by other nations–the International Classification of Diseases (King and Bartlett, 1999)–so it appears the rest of the world doubted the APA 1973 decision for nearly two decades.

      Is homosexuality as healthy as heterosexuality? To answer that question, what is needed are representative samples of homosexual people which study their mental health, unlike the volunteer samples which have, in the past, selected out any disturbed or gender-atypical subjects (such as in the well-known study by Evelyn Hooker). And fortunately, such representative surveys have lately become available.

      New Studies Suggest Higher Level of Pathology

      Jan 26, 2009 at 9:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alfredo Munoz
      Alfredo Munoz

      A strong case can be made that the male homosexual lifestyle itself, in its most extreme form, is mentally disturbed. Remember that Rotello, a gay advocate, notes that “the outlaw aspect of gay sexual culture, its transgressiveness, is seen by many men as one of its greatest attributes.” Same-sex eroticism becomes for many, therefore, the central value of existence, and nothing else–not even life and health itself–is allowed to interfere with pursuit of this lifestyle. Homosexual promiscuity fuels the AIDS crisis in the West, but even that tragedy it is not allowed to interfere with sexual freedom.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 10:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Greg
      Greg

      I think it’s important to ask for our rights in the correct sequence. For example, demanding marriage when your state doesn’t even have an anti-discrimination law just doesn’t make sense (I’m speaking in general, not just regarding California). So I think we need to establish a sequence from most basic to more complex/controversial for each state to go by. Work on one, then once that one has succeeded, move on to the next one. Continually moving up one step at a time will not only focus efforts on getting a specific thing done, but the momentum will build as progress is made more significantly then if we just jumped around from issue to issue like what seems to be going on.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 10:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Rob
      Rob

      @Bill Perdue: I think you’re absolutely right that we need to be pushing harder for ENDA. Of all the legislative changes we could realistically achieve in the next two years, ENDA would have the most profound effects on LGBT people’s lives. Also, getting ENDA will help us with our other legislative goals in the long run, since it will make it easier for LGBT people to come out at work.

      The Democrats in Congress need to hear this message loud and clear: we’ve been asking for an employment non-discrimination law for over thirty years. We’ve supported Democrats in the hope that you will give this to us. Now that there is an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress and a Democratic President, we expect you to deliver. If you do not pass ENDA in this legislative session, we will not give you our money or our votes in 2010.

      Jan 26, 2009 at 11:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • petted
      petted

      @Alfredo Munoz: Its amusing to see your idea of what constitutes adequate citations in the digital age you could at least try and back up your assertions with readily verifiable sources. If this were an APA message board your citations would certainly open to independent discussion and analysis based on the entirety of the text as opposed to some cherry picked snippets. One might well point out that the male bachelor lifestyle in its extreme form shows signs of person that is mentally disturbed. But the infidelity of heterosexuals which most naturally be significantly greater then that of homosexuals ever could be which according to you is of far less concern. “Good day sir!” – Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

      Jan 26, 2009 at 11:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Don
      Don

      I just want to say that until the Lesbians of El Salvador are free, none of us shall be free!!

      And by “free” I mean ruled by Marxist/Lenninist insurgents.

      Jan 27, 2009 at 12:40 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mad Professah
      Mad Professah

      Japhy, there IS such a meta-organization, it’s called Freedom To Marry with Executive Director Evan Wolfson.

      However, NONE of our organizations are funded at a level that would give them enough resources to maximize their effectiveness.

      Jan 27, 2009 at 2:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Christian
      Christian

      @Mad Professah:

      Mad Professah is quite right regarding resources. The top 50 LGBT organizations had about $350 million in total operating dollars last year. Focus on the Family alone has an operating budget of $150 million. It’s a complete David and Goliath situation.

      A study was done in the last year or so that determined that less than 5% of LGBT adults contribute to any of our community organizations. Further, the Hunter College survey on the LGBT community found that less than 40% of those LGBs surveyed felt that their future was linked to the rest of the community. I think there are a lot of reasons for this, primarily that most LGBs are not raised by LGB parents, but it does demonstrate how difficult it is to organize a community that doesn’t a) see itself as a community and b) doesn’t fund it’s own movement.

      Jan 27, 2009 at 8:45 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • RichardR
      RichardR

      @Rob: Rob and Bill Perdue, with ENDA we have had and will have an el Salvadorean lesbian situation — not to equate that group with the T’s of GLBT, but you know what I mean. I think the legislative path is clearer for DADT. A growing congressional majority support it, the new president supports it, signs are the military is ready and the public gets it. I’ll take either or, jubilantly, both, in this first Obama term. Bill, I know you want a sort of separatist movement, but don’t we pragmatically need to work with what we’ve got?

      Sometimes I step back and think we really almost don’t have to do anything. The times they are a-changing. They just are, and it’s because of all the battles, all the conversations, all the campaigns, all the comings-out, all the activists, all the checks mailed and letters written. You can’t stop freedom, you can’t get liberty to go back in the closet, you can’t silence truth. Once the word has been spoken, it is.

      Jan 27, 2009 at 11:59 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Guy from Texas
      Guy from Texas

      @Qjersey: AMEN! I have little to do with organized gay political groups because they get jack shit done. I am very active in the Dallas County Democratic Party here in Texas and for all the problems they have with divisive divas and blowhards it is a breath of fresh air compared to the gay political scene in California.

      Jan 27, 2009 at 7:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Charles J. Mueller
      Charles J. Mueller

      @Alfredo Munoz:

      “Is homosexuality as healthy as heterosexuality?”

      It would be just as fair to ask “Is heterosexuality as healthy as homosexuality?”

      And it would be equally as stupid and pointless.

      I don’t know who you are or what your credentials are, but it seems to me that your “agenda” is about making homosexuals look like they are “sick”, “mentally unbalanced” and totally “obsessed sexual freaks. It’s a compulsion that is not just limited to str8 folks either. There are lots of self-loathing Log Cabin closet gays out there who are coming from exactly the same place as you.

      Funny thing is, and at risk of sounding like heterophobe, I can think of any number of straight people who readily fit the behavioral definitions you gave.

      I am not even curious to know if you are homosexual or straight because quite frankly, after the comments you just posted, you are definitely not a friend of the LGBT community in either case so it is really not germane me whether you suck cock or munch carpet.

      You can just go “sit on it” for all I care.

      Jan 27, 2009 at 8:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alfredo Munoz
      Alfredo Munoz

      @Charles J. Mueller: It is obvious that you are a racist and anti-hispanic.It is painfully apparent that if a person is gay and not of European ethnicity that they are not a welcome member of the exclusive and elite gay community.

      Jan 27, 2009 at 10:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Christian
      Christian

      @Alfredo Munoz:

      I don’t see how race entered into the conversation. Charles certainly didn’t bring it up. Your comments are, indeed, offensive to gay men, and bring up race is just a straw man argument.

      Jan 28, 2009 at 9:40 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bill
      Bill

      Guys there is a great LGBT civil rights organization called the Empowering Spirits Foundation. They are very creative in how they approach this hot topic issue of gay marriage, in that they engage in service oriented activities in communities typically opposed to equal rights to foster thought and change for LGBT equality.

      A friend of mine told me about it and I thought it was a great, positive approach to the issue. We had so much fun at the last event and it was great to give back to the community. Plus it was great to converse with others on the other side of the table in a way that wasn’t confrontational.

      Anyway, this can be such a heated issue and I thought this was a unique approach.

      Mar 13, 2009 at 1:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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