Cleve & Co. Would Love to See the Obama Protest Nixed. Sorry, Not Gonna Happen


The National Equality March’s organizers aren’t too thrilled about the planned Obama-HRC protest organized by the Gay Liberation Network and Queer Liberaction. But because Cleve Jones, Dan Choi, Kip Williams, Nicole-Murray Ramirez, Robin McGehee, and Tanner Efinger do not decide how all of D.C. will be run, they’ve got little say in the matter.

Originally, relations between NEM organizers and the protesting groups were cordial. National Equality March Executive Committee member Mark Reed even offered (as an individual, and not on behalf of the NEM) to buy a plane ticket for Queer Liberaction co-founder Blake Wilkinson just to help him get there. But then he reneged on that offer, via email, saying: “As someone that has been working extremely hard to help promote the march, I am very disappointed that you have not done jack shit to help. Instead, you are posting lies on your web site and facebook page about the organizers of this event.”

Indeed, Wilkinson and GLN Andy Thayer have been quite critical of the march. Thayer wrote that Jones & Co. were “targeting congressional districts and lobbying Congress in an effort to win legal equality, the organizers’ strategy looks suspiciously like a drive to elect and re-elect Democrats in the 2010 bi-elections, rather than make uncompromising demands on this President and his Congress.”


And the duo aren’t backing down from that stance, and are moving ahead with their 6pm protest in front of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Saturday. In a new email to supporters, the two groups explain why: “HRC has been sucking in millions of dollars and building a fine headquarters filled with finely paid executives for years now, lobbying and cajoling the rich and powerful while winning practically no pro-LGBT legislation at the federal level. By contrast, street activist organizations like ACT UP in its heyday, with far fewer resources, won major gains like the Ryan White AIDS Care Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act, in the teeth of opposition from the first Bush administration. We don’t need this president coming to fancy banquets to tell LGBT people how much he loves us. We need him to tell the rest of America that he will push hard – and expend real political capital – to not only pass an inclusive ENDA, but to use the bully pulpit of the presidency to make sure that the pro equal-employment-rights message seeps into every town in America, thereby creating not just legal change but, more importantly, social change.”

They add: “For too many years the LGBT movement has been the plaything of the Democratic Party. Courted for money and votes when they needed us, abused and disrespected once they’re in power. Indeed, some of the worst attacks on our community have come when the Democrats controlled most of the levers of power. … If we are going to make civil rights progress today we need to learn how previous generations have made sweeping gains. They did it not by becoming beholden to either party but by making demands on both parties. As the great anti-slavery activist Frederick Douglass put it, ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand.’”

So why are Cleve & Co. not so happy about the protest? Technically, HRC’s annual dinner that Obama is speaking at is not an “official” NEM event. It’s not even listed on their events calendar. But the protest will go down during NEM’s weekend, and will show the supposed radical side of LGBT activism. That’s a bad image for such a high-profile event. Nevermind that the NEM march, itself, is a demonstration for all the world to see. But GLN/QL’s protest also gives the anti-gay troops more fuel, because they get to write the headline “Even gays hate Obama.” Then again, they already managed to drum up the “Obama doesn’t support gay marriage” storyline.” Which is true.

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  • QL Dallas

    The media attention for the National Equality March is now switching to the small group of “loud and proud” protesters that really know how to create change. We get nothing if we don’t make angry demands for our rights. HRC hasn’t demanded anything but money.

    Direct action beats Gay Inc. inaction, every time. If something positive comes from this Weekend, I hope people realize exactly who made that happen – the few of us willing to hold Obama’s feet to the fire by making demands. All those HRC cocktails and phony glad-handing doesn’t help.

  • bringbackthumbnails

    HRC and NEM (especially Nicole Murray-Ramirez) can bite me. They’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  • Jim B.

    Now, we have an event. Nobody really cares about Cleve’s Birthday Party and polite, meaningless speeches. The Gay Liberation Network has the right idea – express our anger and DEMAND that the President keep his promises. Bring it on.

  • Miguel

    What these two groups are so brilliantly demonstrating is that neither one has a strategy to win our equality. They have no trouble identifying each other’s ideological shortcomings. If only they would be willing to focus the same analytical eye on themselves.

    -Cleve and Co want to elect the right people. Unfortunately, their standards for “right people” start and stop at democratic party affiliation.

    -They, like HRC, want to build alliances within Congress. A congress who, if their own religious beliefs don’t prevent them from supporting the gays, knows that they risk political suicide for voting against their constituents’ firmly held beliefs. Or, in the rare cases when enough politicians are bold enough, as Cleve himself has said, those victories are impermanent. They are so easily overturned. There is not nearly enough public support.

    -GLN/QL just want to make demands, and hold our leaders feet to the fire, to somehow MAKE them do what they’re supposed to/have suggested they would do. Trouble is, they have no fire, so everyone’s feet stay nice and cold. As long as so many Americans believe we are morally wrong, there’s no pressure on anyone to change anything. There’s no force behind the threat, no challenge behind the demand. It’s just an expression of anger, and frankly, who cares?

    Why isn’t anyone working to change the cultural conversation and provide a real alternative to the religious condemnation of us? I would love to get involved in the fight, but there’s no one doing any effective work.

  • Josh

    Queery Headline:

    Cleve & Co. Would Love to See the Obama Protest Nixed.

    I thought the National Equality March was an “Obama Protest.” What am I missing? I think Cleve is just mad because this event was “Invitation Only.” People are just showing up spontaneously to demand results from Obama? That’s just crazy.

  • YellowRanger

    “Guuuuuys, you’re ruining my paaaartyyyyy….”

  • Alex

    This makes it even bigger. Like I said – expect 500,000 or more. A couple million LGBT live within 2 hour driving distance. Many of them are coming.

    Cleve said “a million people,” so we should be prepared.

  • Old Timer

    HRC is pretty bad, no doubt, but “Queer Liberaction” etc. are even worse. You don’t screw around at a speech by the president, ya idiots. Not when he’s sympathetic, anyway.

  • Old Timer

    Alex, you’ll be lucky to get 50,000 people. Just wait.

  • Old Timer

    By the way, Alex, there are about 175,000 gay and lesbian adults in the Baltimore-Washington area, not the “2 million” you are claiming. Do us all a favor and PLEASE don’t make total asses of yourselves by disputing the crowd counts like the 1993 march organizers did.

  • Alex

    Listen, you “old fool,” I said within a 2 hour drive there are more than 2 million LGBT persons. Look it up.

    I wouldn’t attack Queer Liberaction, they are going to force the President to keep his promises. I hope you thank them afterwards. The squeaky wheel gets the lube.

  • Old Timer

    Alex, two hours is Baltimore-Washington. That’s 8.4 million people. Which is 6.3 million adults, 3% of whom are 190,000 people. There aren’t 2 million gays and lesbians in the area, and no, you don’t get to claim Richmond, Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Norfolk.

    In any case, if I were you I wouldn’t try to inflate the number. Word is that even the HQ hotel for the march still has rooms available, let alone the rest of the city. You’ll be lucky to get 20,000 people tomorrow. And don’t count the tourists on their way to the Air & Space Museum, okay?

  • Alex

    Check your numbers again – Philadelphia is a 2-hour drive to Washington D.C. according to Google. The D.C. Economic Development Council says 24 million people live within a two-hour drive to D.C.

    If you are so confident in those “very close by” not showing up – why is that?

    I’m glad Queer Liberaction is stealing the purpose of this weekend and taking the spotlight. They will get the President to grant our full equality.

  • Old Timer

    Alex, you obviously don’t live in the area. In any case, if we accept your number of 24 million, that’s 18 million adults and maybe half a million out-of-the-closet gay people. Not 2 million. In 1993, the march drew 300,000 people. You’ll be lucky to get 20,000 because your event had no core purpose and was terribly promoted.

  • libhomo

    I think the HRC dinner was a farce, but I think both the NEM and the protest outside the HRC dinner were important and productive.

    I also disagree with the idea that the radical side of queer activism is bad. I don’t like how this whole discussion is being framed.

  • QL Dallas

    500,000 people here. Told you so!

  • Old Timer

    Washington Post says “tens of thousands.” Same old story, inflating the count. Could’ve expected it.

  • Old Timer

    p.s.: I hope someone will publish an aerial photo, as in “taken from a helicopter.”

  • Old Timer

    ABC News radio says 20,000 marchers. That’s somewhat different than 500,000.

Comments are closed.