activist retreat

GetEQUAL Founders Robin McGehee + Kip Williams Returning To The Real World

There probably won’t be many White House fence handcuffings in the near future for GetEQUAL creators Robin McGehee or Kip Williams, who formed the group this time last year after the National Equality March: The pair have announced they are returning to the real world now that their “generous seed funding” has run dry: “Launching this exciting shift in our structure is accompanied by a shift for me,” writes McGehee in a statement. “I made a decision one year ago to put my career as a tenure-track college professor on hold in order to work with GetEQUAL full-time — intending to get things up and running, and then to step back a bit in order for other organizers to step forward. That work has been the opportunity of a lifetime and, though I am returning to the classroom, I will remain at GetEQUAL as Director. This shift is only possible because of the success we have seen in building up a community of folks — including you — who are unwilling to sit on the sidelines while others deal away our equality in the confines of Washington, DC. While I am returning to the classroom, I am also keeping my feet firmly planted at GetEQUAL and will be encouraging all the talented organizers working with us now to take a more active role in GetEQUAL’s work. GetEQUAL’s co-founder, Kip Williams, will also be shifting a bit — while he will continue organizing with us, he has succumbed to the siren call of graduate school and we’re proud that he will be making academia just a bit more radical. :-)” So what does all this mean, besides leaving Nancy Pelosi alone and more freely flowing traffic? That Jonathan Lewis, the Progressive Insurance heir who bankrolled the operation, is trimming down his cash infusions, though “three full-time regional field directors and a managing director” will stay on. Maybe they’ll start poking at that ENDA thing?

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #activism #activists #getequal stories and more


  • QueerToday

    Get Equal was NEVER radical. They have the same agenda – marriage and military – as HRC and everyone else. If you want radical – in a good way – look towards queers for economic justice.

  • [email protected]

    @QueerToday: AND @ Queerty:

    “Maybe they’ll start poking at that ENDA thing?”? START???


    The GetEQUAL protests in Pelosi’s DC and CA offices and the shutting down of traffic in Las Vegas…as well as the protest directed at the House Health Education and Labor Committee and its “liberal” Dem chair George Miller AND the arrests in the Capitol rotunda….WERE ABOUT ENDA!




  • Tom in Lazybrook

    Its a shame they didn’t accept donations from people outside of their single funder.

  • GetMoMoney

    The people have spoken, they don’t want to spend their hard earned dollars on the circus that is getequal… But I’d bet my own money that MCgehee is still getting some monthly cash to be a “director”

  • missanthrope


    100% truth. A+ post.

  • Get Splenda

    GetEqual was a ridiculous waste of time. They spent $440,000 shuttling the same brood of activists around the country to engage in civil disobedience, never building a movement. Why? They never made sense to most people.

    Yes, they shut down traffic in Vegas and they crashed Pelosi’s office and a committee meeting. And they claim this was all to get ENDA passed. Well, if they had educated themselves and the people who read their emails, they would realize the members of Congress who they vilified were working as hard or harder to pass ENDA. What our allies needed was popular support to help convince blue dog Democrats to oppose a Republican motion to recommit. Sounds pretty wonky, doesn’t it? Well, that’s where education comes in. When you’re trying to create a movement and be credible as an activist, you have to educate your membership so they are the most credible people talking. But GetEqual didn’t want to learn about motions to recommit, procedural dealing, and where the real power in Washington lies. They just wanted to make demands, as if that’s the whole art and science of politics. But they made the wrong demands of the wrong people at the wrong time.

    Even if Pelosi had been a good target for their actions, they targeted her on the day that she was trying to seal the healthcare deal, a day on which the cable news channels were giving minute by minute updates on her progress. I’m a strong supporter of ENDA but on that day, I was a strong supporter of healthcare and was praying for GetEqual to shut up and join the rest of the progressive coalition to make sure a larger piece of social/economic justice legislation would pass.

    I think of GetEqual and ENDA this way. Imagine your friend is pregnant with conjoined twins. Unfortunately, because of the way they are conjoined, it’s unlikely both twins will survive standard delivery, and if they do, they won’t live more than a few days. However, if the doctors use a series of complicated procedures, there is a way to deliver the twins together, to get them out of the neo-natal ICU, and to send them home for a long and happy life. That’s trans-inclusive ENDA. GetEqual is your moronic but well-intentioned friends who think that the best way to help the doctor deliver the twins is to go stop traffic outside the hospital or worse to tell the AMA and the local newspapers what an awful and incompetent doctor he is while he’s getting ready to go into the delivery room to deliver septuplets.

    We should all be grateful that these incompetents are leaving us. They only got attention because Cleve Jones, Paul Yandura, and John Lewis put them on a pedestal. It should not surprise anyone Kip and Robin are leaving GetEqual before a robust organization. They did the same thing with Equality Across America after the National Equality March. After claiming to create a national organization they abandoned it. I hope they won’t come back.

  • GetMoMoney

    @Get Splenda: So powerful and all true. I would love to think they’ll go away, but alas I know it will just be a matter of time before the two of them start up another “organization” with a large amount of money, run it dry and start all over again..

  • GayDNCBoycott

    Did GOProud show up here or something? Face it, “$$$, inc”, otherwise known as the HRC does nothing for us. GetEqual got in people’s faces and embarrassed the president enough to throw us some crumbs.

    Why do I have the feeling the posters on here would have been whining about “those queens at Stonewall who should have been talking with politicians” had they been there. Being polite gets us nothing but dinners and drinks with politicians who take our money and send us on our way…

  • Get Splenda

    I don’t know why you think GOProud showed up here. That’s your issue. Maybe you have a problem with challenging ideas you hold dear and think that if an idea is different from yours it can only belong to an enemy. That’s not a very intellectual approach to problem solving. But that’s your affair.

    Your speculation that people on here oppose direct action and civil disobedience is also misplaced. Nobody said those tactics aren’t appropriate. We’ve only criticized the particulars of the actions and their effectiveness. Just because it vaguely resembled radical behavior doesn’t mean it touched on political pressure points or that it mobilized popular opinion.

    To that point, GetEqual did not get the President to do anything. They didn’t get ENDA passed and they didn’t certainly didn’t get DADT repealed. They didn’t exert any real political pressure. How can I say that? Because if you ask an independent straight voter outside of New York, “What is GetEqual?” or “What comes to mind when I say ‘people getting arrested outside the White House’ or ‘people blocking the Las Vegas strip’?” they will say, “I don’t know”, “Vietnam”, or “crazy people.” They won’t even name the cause. The White House knows this. They aren’t afraid of GetEqual. What scared them was that MSNBC became the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Channel. What scared them was that after all the suicides in September and October, straight celebrities in Hollywood started screaming that politicians who opposed DADT repeal had blood on their hands. What scared them were LGBT organization heads and donors who started to accuse the White House of behaving with indifference to all the anti-gay rhetoric during the election, rhetoric that had concrete deadly consequences. What scared them was an open conversation among these donors and executive directors about the need for a primary challenge if DADT did not get repealed. That scared them. They knew that if DADT did not get repealed, not even HRC could defend them. He would be a one term president. GetEqual did not cultivate that message at all. They chained themselves to the White House and said they supported the President. Useless.

    You want to compare that to Stonewall? Stonewall was a three day rebellion that shut down a section of a major city and was notable among other reasons because it gave visibility to something that had been in the shadows. DADT wasn’t in the shadows. It was on the front page of the New York Times. By the third time GetEqual did a White House arrest stunt, it was old news. So fifteen people got arrested. Fifteen people who are so ineffective at mobilizing people that over the course of a year they couldn’t get 100 people to get arrested at the White House, in spite of having spent $440,000.

    I’m all in favor of people who cause trouble that galvanizes popular opinion, that moves people to action, that targets a real political vulnerability, and which compels politicians to act. ACT-UP did a pretty good job of it. They certainly weren’t quiet. But in order to be like ACT-UP and to do all those things, you have to have a desire to educate yourself about what’s on other people’s minds, what’s important to them, who has the real power, who your real adversaries are, what their vulnerabilities are, what’s newsworthy to straight people as well as gay people, the issue itself, and the procedural disposition of the issue.

    The people behind GetEqual didn’t want to educate themselves or others. They thought a tantrum was enough.

    The worst thing about GetEqual is that there have been many efforts around the country to engage in direct action for LGBT equality. GetEqual sucked all the air out of the room, tainted many other groups with their brand association, and made it much more difficult for other groups and other credible people to be heard on the issues.

    Thank God there will now be air for others to breathe.

  • [email protected]


    No, it’s worse than the self-loathing fags of GOPutz. It’s self-loathing “liberals” outraged that anyone ACTually dared call out their Lord & Savior Obama Christ for his broken promises and substitution of smile fucking us with words for action [along with members of Congress]. And most of the negative posts here are, as they always are all over the Net except for those sites that have had the integrity to ban him, probably from someone who originally posted as “Andrew W” then “Jennifer Q” then “Jenny Q” then “Career” ad nauseum….often in the same thread. “GetMoMoney” and “GetSplenda” are sooooooo obviously “him,” evident in the outright lies and distortions and self-appointed—and inaccurate lecturing on how government/activism “really works.”


    His psychosis goes back at least to the National Equality March which he claimed had been cancelled resulting in some people not going. Last May he claimed a DADT demonstration in Lafayette Park had been cancelled. It hadn’t either. In the same day on one site he would claim that McGehee was making $80,000 a year and on another $90,000 a year [AS IF it was any of his business—since it wasn’t HIS money—in any case]. Recently he must have totally run out of haloperidol because he claimed the GE people had paid themselves $1 MILLION. And Cleve Jones never “put them on a pedestal.” He gets paid to work with Courage Campaign. And there’s NO evidence that our allies in Congress, as good as they might be in other ways, were doing a goddamn thing to move ENDA.

    Some curious about “Andrew/Jennifer/GetMo’s ubiquitous presence and pathological obsession and lies tracked him down to an allegedly wealthy guy who was trying to START HIS OWN GROUP without success, and who’d offered tens of thousands of dollars to people to “prove” his claims about various things wrong, such as “lobbying doesn’t work.”

    When GE began to succeed where he failed he turned his jealous rabid rage against them [and Dan Choi], but like 99% of Internet cockroaches refused, and continues to refuse, to reveal his real name while libeling others by name.

    While I participated in GE’s DADT events last November 15th, including getting arrested at the White House [for which I was NOT “paid,” thank you], I’ve never claimed they were perfect any more than any other group or individual; any more than I’ve ever claimed that Obama doesn’t have some strengths. As much as I’ve dissed him, I’d vote for him again in a heartbeat over ANY Republican.

    But GE’s so-called “failure” to engage large numbers has an obvious answer: few people are willing to go to jail for what they believe. That’s certainly their right, but that doesn’t make those who are wrong. Again, while I don’t agree with Robin about everything, she was the functional head of the National Equality March and succeeded, with the help of a steering committee and countless local organizers, in bringing some 200,000 to Washington on a $ shoe string, and helped inspire countless people to continue to return home and continue to work on the local and state level.

    Queerty’s own OSD [Obsessive Snark Disorder] empowers cockroaches like “Andrew ad nauseum” who always choose not to mention that in order to influence federal legislation one must spend the majority of his/her time in DC, and that Robin not only took a sabbatical from her college teaching job to run GE, but has a wife in California and two sons approximately 8 and 4. [She was kicked out of the PTA of which she was president at the Catholic school whose preschool her older son was in after they found out she was working against Prop 8.] Every trip to DC or Las Vegas or Miami to fight for LGBT equality took her away from them.

    One doesn’t have to agree with everything she or the group did/does to show some respect for what they try/tried. I personally believe that, regardless of worthy efforts by some in the multi-million dollar industry known as “Gay, Inc.,” that DADT “repeal” [albeit STILL not implemented] would have ended up in the same ditch as ENDA were it not for GetEQUAL and Dan Choi [ENDA’s chief problem has been it’s never had a “poster person” to illustrate the need for it], and the incomparably informed, widely followed and respected Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake agrees:

    “I think the important thing we can look at are the people who got their issues addressed. The people who were absolutely unrelenting, who didn’t try to play an inside game. It was the outside game that won this time. Again, the GetEQUAL people were remarkable. Dan Choi, the people who chained themselves to the White House—they really put themselves out there and pushed.

    We did see what it’s like—what fierce advocacy is like from the White House in the form of what they did on START. They called members of the Senate. They arranged for briefings. They had Joe Biden out there. The President was using the bully pulpit. And if he’s not doing that, as HE WASN’T on the Dream Act or Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, then we know it’s not a priority for them. And those activists did not accept the kabuki. They said we want the whole, the Full Monty. We want the whole thing and we’re not going to take anything less. And, I think that’s why we’re all sitting here celebrating today, because they were uncompromising in what they wanted.” – Jane Hamsher, Firedoglake, on the Lawrence O’Donnell show, “The Last Word,” Dec. 22, 2010.

  • [email protected]

    PS: As “Andrew/Splenda’s” further barrage of lies crossed in the ether with my post, I’ll just speak to just a few of them.

    DADT stayed “on the front page of the New York Time” and in other media BECAUSE of GE’s actions featuring Dan Choi. MSNBC became the DADT channel? What network did he out himself to the nation and Army on: MSNBC. Whom did they [and CNN et al.] repeatedly interview over two years?

    “By the third time GetEqual did a White House arrest stunt, it was old news. So fifteen people got arrested.”???

    The attempt to dismiss GE actions be claiming no one paid attention to GE actions is a CONSTANT tactic of “Andrew/Jennifer”…again proving that “Get Splenda” is he. Actually, it was only 13 arrested, you lazy fool, and we were swarmed by straight media at the White House whose stories and photos of the protest were carried all around the world by the Associated Press, Reuters, Yahoo News, MSNBC, CNN, Newsweek, NPR, etc., etc., etc. Google ” getequal ‘white house’ november” and one gets some 228,000 hits.

    I don’t remember any “straight celebrities in Hollywood started screaming that politicians who opposed DADT repeal had blood on their hands.” And there was actually, albeit surprisingly, very little antigay rhetoric from candidates during the midterms.

    OF COURSE, people have a right to disagree with GE’s choices. But when he/she has to resort to multiple phony names, distortions, and lies to do it, it’s fair to wonder what his/her REAL agenda is.


  • AndrewW

    GetEqual never got any real participation – most were paid to attend their “actions.” People didn’t want to contribute either.

    The failure of this organization is directly related to their self-importance and their failed strategy of “embarrassing, humiliating or irritating people into submission.” It is a childish and stupid strategy. None of their circus-activism changed any minds or any votes. They simply made the LGBT community look pathetic.

    Unfortunately they wasted $1 million on their stupid publicity stunts. That money could have been better spent at many authentic organizations.

  • GetMoMoney

    @[email protected]: Robin doesn’t have a wife anymore, you fool. She cheated on her wife during the planning of the march, even queerty covered it. Hows that for family values and loving your kids???

  • Gay Republican

    @GetMoMoney: Maybe they should rename their group GetCheated?

  • HRC-we told you so

    They wasted our time and money. People laughed at us.

    Told you so.

  • AndrewW

    [email protected] is GetEqual’s biggest fan.

    I rest my case.

    I wish Robin and Kip well, but GetEqual was a huge waste of time and energy. Maybe they’ll grow up now.

  • justiceontherocks

    @HRC-we told you so: They are rank amateurs at wasting time and money compared to the limp-dick do nothing HRC.

  • Tom in Lazybrook

    @justiceontherocks: I agree completely. HRC is the world champions at wasting time and money. Over half a BILLION dollars in the last 10 years into HRC and what did we get out of it? Some fabulous cocktail parties.

  • AndrewW

    And GetEqual is finally out of money. Great.

    The lesson of GetEqual’s failure is that we must recognize this is 2011 – not 1960. The world has changed and no matter how much we want to pretend that it’s still 1964 – it isn’t.

    Our methods, activists, organizations and advocates need to grow up. Our primary responsibility is to educate, enlighten and enroll people to support our full equality.

    Marching around making demands doesn’t accomplish that. Paying self-described “activists” $100,000 a year (plus travel expenses) doesn’t, either.

    More than half of America supports our full equality. It is our job to increase that to a sizable majority or two-thirds. We do that by being SMARTER, not just LOUDER.

  • David John Fleck


    I think it’s been about six months since I last commented on one of your posts. And again, the same question: When will you be introducing us to the plan you have been spending your time and own money on? You’ve alluded to it for a long time now. When? Where? How?

    BTW. We did end up having the votes for the DADT compromise, didn’t we?


  • AndrewW

    @David John Fleck: Soon, David.

    The failure of GetEqual is good news for our community. Accountability works. It is important that WE determine how effective a tactic, method or strategy is and demonstrate that with support – time or money.

    DADR Repeal passed because a few Republicans got “permission” from the Military. It has nothing to do with childish publicity stunts or protest. The compromise deal did exactly what it was supposed to do – garner 4-6 votes. HRC did that and as much as I think they are useless, they got this one right.

    Much will happen in the next three years despite the fact that most advocates and activists think we can’t accomplish anything under Republican rule. It’s the “people” we need, not politicians. Our community is finally understanding that reality.

    I appreciate your comment.

  • David John Fleck

    Interesting response, AndrewW.

    I assume you are acknowledging that you were incorrect in the scores, perhaps hundreds of your comments across multiple blogs that there were not enough votes to pass ANY LGBT legislation in the last year of the 111th Congress. Just admit it.

    Now let’s go back to a comment under your name posted at The Bilerico Project on June 9, 2010 11:59 PM. In it AndrewW writes: “I have invested more than $450,000 acquiring research and polling data during the last 10 months. I have also acquired several ideas and have paid for the development of 7 media campaigns. It’s my money and my time. I am NOT establishing a non-profit organization, I am figuring out HOW and WHEN we can WIN. I will fund that effort.”

    On June 10, 2010 12:46 AM, AndrewW writes: “…I have not claimed to represent the LGBT Community. I am spending my own money because I believe we need to figure out how to win. I am doing the necessary research, polling, and analyzing before I launch something. You can be assured that I won’t hide from questions because I have a full appreciation for how important our Movement is.”

    Also in this thread is a reference to a comment posted to Bilerico by AndrewW on February 10, 2010 2:30 PM: “I have expressed several ideas and I have offered $100 million for anyone or any organization that has a strategy to win.”

    So Andrew, my question remains as above: When will you be introducing us to the plan you have been spending your time and own money on? You’ve alluded to it for a long time now. When? Where? How?

    The Movement is waiting…

  • AndrewW

    Oh, I get it – you’re Bil Browning from Bil’s House Blend. You’re mad that your favorite group failed. Maybe Bilerico is next.

    I’m glad GetEqual has failed. I wish it was sooner. Maybe we can restart our movement now. In my response I told you how HRC persuaded a few Republicans to help repeal DADT. It’s simple math.

    I know your Blog is failing Bil, but if you have any valuable ideas, email me and we’ll see if we can get you some help.

  • GetMoMoney

    Nah Andrew, hes a real person a crony of Robins. Youll see him posting her bull on facebook all the time. He drinks the koolaid as it were and hes not active in anything so no worries hearing from him…

  • David John Fleck

    @Andrew Sorry to disappoint. Not Bil Browning. Just very good at research and have bookmarked some of your more provocative posts.

    Actually you stated that repeal (which is not the correct term in my opinion given that HRC and the Center for American Progress negotiated away the non-discrimination language) ‘passed because a few Republicans got “permission” from the Military.’ Then you write that ‘HRC persuaded a few Republicans to help repeal DADT.’ Two different statements from my perspective. And, from the individuals I have corresponded with in DC, not a compete nor accurate representation of the complex political maneuvering that occurred in the Senate.

    @GetMoMoney Yep, real person. Have been a friend of Robin’s since I met her in Fresno while laying the groundwork for Camp Courage in my position at that time as Grassroots Outreach Coordinator for the Courage Campaign’s Equality Program. Probably more accurate to say that Robin and I purchase our packets of KoolAid from the same store.

    And yes I do repost a lot of information to my Facebook page. Last two days have seen reposts from Equality Ohio, One Iowa, Pride Alliance Hawaii, and grassrooters in Wyoming. Also stories on ShowMeNoHate in Missouri and the coalition of No Longer Silent Clergy for Justice, PFLAG, Arizona Stonewall Democrats, and Human and Equal Rights Organizers in Arizona.

    So, let’s turn this back to the questions at hand:


    1. How soon is ‘soon’ for the rollout to the community for your research, polling data, and seven media campaigns?

    2. Does the $100 million dollar offer still stand?

    3. What email address should interested activists and organizations use to contact you to propose their ideas?

    In solidarity,

  • AndrewW

    1. First, it’s much more than what you have referenced, but I think by the Spring we’ll know about launch dates. I believe the necessary shift in thinking by our community has begun. We have begun to embrace accountability and i think we’re finally getting over “old tactics.” I think the Movement, as stale as it is, has begun to wake up and recognize we need a cohesive strategy to win. We are no longer going to fund ineffective organizations. We want or “demand” (nods to Robin) a real, viable strategy.

    2. Of course the offer still stands. If you have a way to WIN our full equality, email me. Achieving our full equality is worth much more than $100 million. I do not believe that ANY current organization (from HRC to the now defunct GetEqual) has any incentive to actually win. They exist to raise money and continue their jobs.

    3. [email protected]

  • David John Fleck

    Thanks, Andrew.

    GetEQUAL is far from defunct. GetEQUAL will be working with three regional field directors to build and support state leads, who will work in community to identify regional coordinators – that together – will plan, organize and host town halls. These town halls will allow for each respective community to determine together where they want to apply pressure, take action, etc. Jonathan Lewis continues to fund GetEQUAL, but at a lower level in order to encourage others to join in and expand the sources of support.

    Andrew, hopefully all of our efforts will someday soon ‘dovetail’ and we will WIN our full equality.


  • AndrewW

    @David John Fleck: No, David, GetEqual is over. The three “regional directors” is just a last gasp. Jonathan Lewis isn’t very bright for giving GetEqual money in the first place. Recently, he admitted the failure and acknowledged that Robin and Kip weren’t worth $90,000 a year.

    Having community meetings to “decide who to put pressure” on is silly. We CANNOT out pressure on ANYONE. That’s is childish.

    Instead we should be encouraging people to join us and stand for our full equality.

    Be honest – GetEqual didn’t put pressure on anyone. They just got some attention for “complaining.” That doesn’t change any minds or votes – it just irritates people.

    Please don’t suggest that GetEqual will continue. It’s like NEM and JoinTheImpact – nobody wants to march in the streets and make silly “demands.” They want results. GetEqual didn’t have any and they were dismissed. I don’t care if Lewis is dumb enough to waste another $100,000 – it’s over. Way over.

  • David John Fleck

    Then we will agree to disagree. I am confident in my opinion and you are in yours.

    Look forward to the roll-out of your plan and the transparency it will demand. I’m certain that there are many like myself who are looking forward to seeing the face and hearing the voice that belong to AndrewW.

    Good luck in your endeavors.

  • AndrewW

    Thanks, David.

    Looking forward . . .

  • Jeffree

    @AndrewW: I absolutely agree with two of your keystones for what needs to happens next: 1) accountability and 2) increasing the number of Americans who support our full equality.

    I don’t agree that GetEqual was as much of a waste of effort as HRC, but that’s a moot point now that they’re running out of money and staff.

    My own experience in non-profits has been in the area of adoption, which is mostly a state-level issue. That said, the setting of quantifiable goals and holding members /directors accountable has been key to our successes. I wish GetEqual had been clearer on measureable goals, action steps and strategy, but I hope that who ever takes up the cause(s) will rely on models that are shown to be effective.

    Good luck on your project. I look forward to hearing more about it as you roll things out.

Comments are closed.