queerty interviews

John Aravosis Is On the Attack Against HRC + the DNC. Is It Working?

It’s not that AMERICAblog‘s John Aravosis is a “HRC hater,” it’s just that now with Democrats in power in D.C., the so-called leading LGBT rights organization hasn’t figured out how to capitalize on obvious advantages. From his campaign against Joe Solmonese & Co. to a boycott on donating to the Democratic National Committee, Aravosis is utilizing netroots tools to mobilize gay Americans to pressure HRC and politicians. Is it working? Queerty‘s David Hauslaib spoke with Aravosis last week about activism, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and the general frustration of where to point the finger when we keep turning up empty handed.

“What worries me about HRC in this situation,” says Aravosis, “is I think HRC has so much pull in Washington, that if they stood up publicly and said, ‘The Democrats are screwing us, the White House is giving lip service to helping us but they’re not telling Congress we want repeals of Don’t Ask Don’t done this year, and if you want our votes and our money in November for this year for this crucial congressional election, you’re going to come through on your promises this year.’ Democrats in D.C. would crap if HRC did that.”

So why doesn’t HRC do … that?

“And that’s the question.”

(photo via)

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  • Steve

    No matter how angry gays get, there are just not so many of us. Every congressman counts both votes and money. Sure, they want our votes and our money. But we are only 2 or 3 percent of votes, and maybe 5 percent of money in a good year. The problem for most congressmen is, if they are seen to do something for the gays, the also loose several percent of both votes and money that would have come from other sources. So, if they do nothing for us and we get mad, they break even. But, if they do something for us, they would lose (net) support. And, if they do nothing for us and we don’t get mad, they come out ahead.

    It’s just political calculus. Gays are such a small minority, and the number of other constituents who hate gays is large enough, that very few congressman will do anything for us at all. That may be changing slowly, as the hate from other constituents seems to be gradually subsiding. But it hasn’t reached a tipping point yet.

    Individual hot-heads can spout off all they want, but the organization needs to keep its cool, and refrain from making enemies. Calm conversations need to happen, even while there are angry protests going on outside the door. Both are necessary.

  • rf

    The courts are the answer. Thats where the bulk of our money should be going. If we throw any money or support to legislators it should only be at those in the very few places where gay rights inroads could be achieved organically (NY, NJ, RI) by picking off specific people. By and large, people (including Congress and the prez) cannot be trusted to do the right thing. Just ask blacks and women and Asians… that’s why the Constitution protects minorities. We just have to prove we’re a minority worthy of suspect class. and only the courts can do that.

  • Kurt

    Keep this boycott going. Nothing could be better for the Democratic Party and for the LGBT community that to lessen the destructive influence of rich, urban gays on the Democratic Party and politics in general.

    The strategy that wealthy gays from the West Side of Manhattan give money to the Democratic Party who in turn will force perfect voting records out of Democrats from rural, suburban and moderate districts (all while the rich gays have a sidebar converation about how the capital gains tax is too high)is a failed strategy.

    Most of these gay donors would not be caught dead in the congressional districts that we need to be organizing in. The image left with these moderate members of Congress is: 1) I have few or no gays in my district. 2) I can go to LA or Manhattan and raise money from gay people. 3) I will never see them back home because they are too snotty to ever step foot in my congressional district.

  • Jessica

    What I’m a little perplexed by whenever I hear arguments like this is that we all just finished hearing (in the Prop 8 case) an inarguably qualified, by all accounts brilliant and informed expert on the subject testify extensively and articulately, and stand up to extensive cross examination, about how the gay community truly lacks meaningful political power in this country. Everyone in the community and on the blogs applauded this, and rightfully so. It was compelling and persuasive.

    And then, seemingly without regard for this, Aravosis and others like him repeatedly and ceaselessly criticize HRC for not…well, not exercising their supposedly weighty political power. With comments like, “I think HRC has so much pull in Washington…”

    If a legitimate basis for the claim in the Prop 8 case (and elsewhere) that gay people deserve constitutional protection is their lack of significant and meaningful political power, and I think that *is* the case – see Steve’s comment above as well – then I’m continually baffled by why so many in the activist community, or at least the bloggers, seem to be expecting HRC to have miraculous powers of political persuasion simply by virtue of having access to the ears of people in power. No matter whose ears they have access to, I just don’t buy, especially after closely reading that testimony, that the gay community matters enough politically right now, to the Democrats or anyone else, that anything HRC does could truly have the “pull” to cause them to “crap” – or to do anything else they don’t want to do.

    It just seems to me it can’t be both ways: if we are arguing, and in agreement, that that political power isn’t there, it’s a bit inconsistent to be taking groups that are working to support the LGBT community so harshly to task for failing to exercise what they don’t have.

  • Chitown Kev

    The problem here is that HRC doen’t need to make enemies within our community.

    There have been several disparaging comments about the netroots coming from HRC, including Joe Solomnese himself.

    We need the “good cops” like the HRC but we also need the “bad cops” like the netroots to pressure them to do the right thing.

    HRC needs to do what they do and the netroots need to do what they do and HRC needs to stay quiet and let that entire dynamic play out. It’s not as if we need one or the other, we need both.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    In the interview done by Bill Moyers, Ted Olson and David Boise said that often, politicians will not vote their conscience, but rathe,r wait for the courts to abolish injustice. Politicians wash their hands of us and wait for the judicial branch to make it right. That shows a flaw in our system. It puts too much of the burden on the legal branch. It’s also cowardly.

  • Brian NYC

    John Aravosis is just as ineffective as HRC. Most of us just laugh at him. He has a few dozen followers, but they just complain.

  • Cam

    We didn’t start to see any movement on gay rights, despite the democrats being in power UNTIL things like the DNC boycott, and the community freaking out when HRC released that paper saying that we couldn’t complain. Once HRC and the DNC realized that a pat on the head from Barney Frank, or Joe Solomnase telling us to be quiet and go around to the back door wasn’t going to work while they were in power things started to move. It’s a shame that the heads of HRC were so much more interested in playing the “Getting invited to parties” game rather than the “Get us our rights” game. HRC’s goal in life should be to work towards it’s own demise. To work for a time when they can basically shut down because they aren’t needed. There isn’t one person working there with that goal in mind.

  • Chitown Kev


    Homophobia will be around long after equality is attained, so we’ll pretty much always need organizations like HRC (just as the NAACP and NOW remain necessary).

    The functions of the organization may change but they will still be necessary.

  • Cam

    No. 9 · Chitown Kev said…

    Homophobia will be around long after equality is attained, so we’ll pretty much always need organizations like HRC (just as the NAACP and NOW remain necessary).

    The functions of the organization may change but they will still be necessary.

    In Canada, they have local organizations that watch for things like that. But HRC is pretty much a Federal lobbying organization. Once the laws are there, there isn’t a huge reason for them to exist. There are still the local Equality chapters, etc.. but once we have complete equality under the law is there a reason for a Gigantic Organization requesting millions of dollars a year from the community to exist without anything to lobby? GLAAD is supposedly fighting homophobia and we see what a waste they are at it. If HRC wants to become the gay version of the NAACP one day then they’d better start working on some grass roots outreach in a big way.

  • AndrewW

    John Aravosis never addressed the biggest problem we have – Half of the US Senate is Anti-Gay. This self-serving interview was all about the promotion of “playing politics,” because that’s how John makes a living.

    Suggesting that HRC can “tell” the White House and the Congress to “pass the repeal of DADT” is childish, especially after acknowledging that in the 90s HRC was totally ineffective during the Clinton years.

    Soon, even John Aravosis (paid political consultant) and others will understand that the criticism of HRC is really an evolving understanding that lobbying does not work for LGBT-issues. During the last 29 years HRC has received +$550 million and they do not have ANY evidence that their lobbying has worked in the US Congress. In State politics they don’t seem to have any evidence and they’ve repeatedly declined to provide any. In this interview Aravosis couldn’t name “one thing HRC does well.”

    Many people believe lobbying is effective and many even promote it because we simply don’t have any alternatives. But, sooner or later we have to determine if it has real value and that conclusion must depend on real evidence, not the self-serving endorsement of “political experts.” David Mixner endorses lobbying because he’s a paid lobbyist. Other lobbyists do, too. But, that’s not evidence.

    Anti-LGBT politicians base their position on their personal morality (religious beliefs) and the majority beliefs of their constituents. That makes LGBT-positions non-negotiable. Unlike other issues (healthcare, energy, banking) we don’t have anything to negotiate with. We can’t bargain for votes. The only thing we could possibly trade was something else in the “moral domain.” But, we are not authorized to trade same-sex marriage for the cessation of womens reproductive rights. Our only effective action is to replace an anti-gay politician at the next opportunity or change the views (beliefs) of their constituents. They’ll listen to polls, but they won’t listen to us.

    During this recent debate and “call to action” aimed squarely at HRC, many have commented that HRC has influence with the White House. They have also suggested that the President has influence with The Congress. Neither of these assertions are true. Nobody has or even uses influence when morality is involved.

    As a movement we need to hold organizations accountable, but we must also determine if tactics are effective. If you look honestly and objectively at lobbying LGBT-issues you will not see any success – especially in the US Congress. If lobbying was effective, you’d think after 57 years we would have finally received the support of Senator Robert Byrd. The truth is we can’t find a single US Senator that changed their minds about LGBT issues as a result of lobbying. If lobbying did work, we’d simply invest more and get those 4-5 votes we desperately need in the US Senate.

    This attack on HRC and the DNC will eventually lead to the realization that lobbying (for LGBT issues) is ineffective. Too bad it has cost us 29 years and more than a half billion dollars to begin to understand that reality.

  • Chitown Kev


    Well, the NAACP ain’t all that great at grassroots outreach either.

    But…well, you know that there will still be loopholes in all sorts of laws through which bigotry can seep through, so even the lobbying function will still be needed.

    Although I would think that you could, at that point, fold up HRC into, say, Lambda Legal (and really, that would be the equivalent of the NAACP, as they do a lot of legal work).

  • Cam

    No. 11 · AndrewW said…
    John Aravosis never addressed the biggest problem we have – Half of the US Senate is Anti-Gay. This self-serving interview was all about the promotion of “playing politics,” because that’s how John makes a living.

    Suggesting that HRC can “tell” the White House and the Congress to “pass the repeal of DADT” is childish, especially after acknowledging that in the 90s HRC was totally ineffective during the Clinton years.

    The problem is Andrew, that HRC didn’t even try. What they DID do was meet secretly with the White House and tell them they would basically keep the gays off their backs. They then put out a memo telling us to shut up and saying we didn’t have any right to complain about anything Obama did until after his two terms were over. Once they were lambasted for that, and gays started boycotting the DNC finally we got some movement on gay issues. The problem with HRC is that they were so ready and willing to be the lapdog for the people in power, that they will never know what kind of impact they could have had if they had remembered they are supposed to work for us.

  • AndrewW

    @Cam: I’m afraid you believe that HRC can change the political reality that we do not have enough support in the US Senate. They cannot – if they could, they would have. They’ve wasted $550 million pretending they can. They’ve fooled you, but for most of us the truth is now becoming very obvious.

    You cannot lobby away Anti-Gay positions. We never have and we never will. It would be smarter to stop wasting that money and look for something that WILL work. HRC and lobbying does not work, not for us. The only ones that claim it is effective are “lobbyists.”

  • Cam

    No. 14 · AndrewW said…
    @Cam: I’m afraid you believe that HRC can change the political reality that we do not have enough support in the US Senate. They cannot – if they could, they would have. They’ve wasted $550 million pretending they can. They’ve fooled you, but for most of us the truth is now becoming very obvious.

    Actually Andrew, I think we are both arguing the same side. My issue isn’t that I think HRC CAN change the world. My issue is that in spite of all the money they collect they don’t even bother to TRY, and in fact work against us by telling the White House and Congress that they will keep gays off their backs. So they go from being an ineffective advocate to a hinderence. I would not have nearly as large a problem with them if they would try to hold Congresses feet to the fire and attempt to bring some pressure on them, but the fact that they don’t even try shows me that they are all only concerened about the next black tie event and not actually about working for our rights.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Why would a politician want to spend political capital on a controversial issue such as equality for all Americans, even the unpopular ones, when they know that it will eventually be in the lap of the judicial branch? We must never forget how the Democrats told us to curl up and die.

  • AndrewW

    The problem isn’t just HRC themselves, it is the unfounded assertion that, (like Aravosis said):

    “I think HRC has so much pull in Washington.”

    That just isn’t true when it comes to changing LGBT votes or influencing the President. Aravosis confuses access with influence. Access doesn’t produce results.

    HRC (lobbyist), John Aravosis (political consultant) and everyone else making a living advocating for the LGBT Community should be required to demonstrate their effectiveness. This goes for tactics and strategies, as well. Just because “this is always the way we’ve done it” isn’t good enough anymore. The community has become too disenchanted with the lack of results.

    HRC’s latest soft promise to end DADT this year is just another attempt to quiet everyone while asking for donations. If HRC has a Plan to get another 4-5 votes in the US Senate – let’s see it.

    The claims of influence are not a plan. Neither is hope. Obama “Hope” is screwing us in a very similar manner that “they guy from Hope” did in the 90s.

  • christopher di spirito

    John Aravosis acts like he invented boycotts. Funny thing is, I have participated in effective boycotts when Aravosis was still working for disgraced, Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, and unsure if he was a Republican or a Democrat.

  • wondermann

    John’s boycotts are jokes and are not effective. They are a waste of time.

    He’s like that old man in the neighborhood complaining that the kids are too loud.

  • missanthrope

    John Avarsis is out for one person, and that’s John Avarsis. He doesn’t mind kicking other people in LGBT umbrella to the curb for social or political advancement but once the HRC/Democratic Party starts stiffing wealthy gay men like himself he starts biting the hand that feeds him as the party hack he is. Fuck’em.

  • John Aravosis

    Hey everyone. Interesting assortment of comments. And thank you David, for doing the interview.

    I think many of you raise interesting points, and concerns. I think we need HRC. And I’ve said so. I’m not an HRC hater, and if anything, I’ve gotten into trouble over the years for defending HRC when others were attacking them. This time, however, I feel that HRC is letting the community down.

    Why? As powerless as we are as a minority – otherwise we’d have our civil rights – we do have the ability to influence to make Democrats keep their campaign promises to our community. And the best asset we have for influencing the Democrats is HRC. Partly because, I think, the Democratic party looks to HRC for cover whenever they screw up on gay issues. THEY look to HRC as our lead group, regardless of whether or not it’s true that HRC “leads” the community in 2010. If HRC were to put more pressure, public pressure, on the Democratic party, and specifically the President, a lot of us believe that the party would, as I said during the interview, crap its pants.

    Democrats are worried about November. Election watcher Charlie Cook, who is very respected, has already said publicly that he doesn’t see a way in which Democrats can hold the House in the fall elections. He’s also said privately, I’m told, that he thinks the Senate is in trouble too. If we lose the Congress in the fall, nothing is happening on gay rights – nothing is happening on DADT, DOMA or ENDA – for a long time coming. Remember the last time Democrats lost control of the Congress, it took 14 years to get it back. And even then, nothing happened on our issues until we had a Democratic President. I mention this fact for two reasons. First, if we don’t get DADT, DOMA and ENDA (or even one of them) this year, we’re not going them for a long time coming. Second, Democrats are worried, and that provides the community leverage. It provides us an opening, our leaders an opening, to go the Democrats and tell them that we expect at least one of their top three promises to be kept before we lose the Congress.

    That brings us to today. Even with a Democratic congress and a Democratic president, none of the top three issues are moving. Yes, there’s been some great momentum around DADT lately, but the President is now refusing to even say he wants DADT repealed this year (WH spokesman Gibbs refused when Kerry Eleveld of the Advocate asked him to say that the WH wants to see DADT repealed this year). The President’s reticence has been noticed by congress, and it’s cause Barney Frank and Chairman Levin of the Armed SErvices Committee to complain in the last two weeks that the administration needs to step up its game on DADT. But it won’t. So now Levin is saying we don’t have the votes, so may he’s going to push for a moratorium instead of full repeal. And as I said before, if we wait, we get nothing for years to come.

    But I don’t believe, like commenter Andrew above (who is on a bit of a mission to convince folks that we have no chance), that we have no chance of winning. We can win. This year. If the White House helps. The President has enormous power to influence the Pentagon, he is their boss after all, and the Congress. But he’s not doing it. Just as he did on health care reform, and specifically the debate over the public option, the President is giving vague endorsements of the concept, but refusing to dirty his hands by saying he wants it done this year, and refusing to help us get the votes.

    That’s where HRC comes in. I think, especially because of the Democrats’ concern about the election, we have an opportunity to convince them that they need to come through for us before the election, or our voters and our donors won’t be nearly as motivated to help come November. But that takes groups like HRC laying down the law with the party and the White House. And they’re not. We know they’re not. Publicly they’re talking about repeal. Privately, they’re giving Congress and the White House a pass, in the interest of preserving relations. And I love preserving relations. It’s an important aspect of politics. But what is the point in having a relationship with Congress and the White House if they’re not willing to follow through on their major promises to you and your community? At some point, you have to be willing to stand up to politicians who don’t keep their promises, otherwise they perceive you as a pushover, and will never keep their promises again.

    As I’ve said, I think there’s a golden opportunity to get DADT repealed this year. But the White House isn’t helping, the Hill is openly complaining that the WH isn’t helping, and the WH itself is now refusing to even say publicly that it would like to see DADT repealed this year. And if it doesn’t happen this year, it’s likely not happening for years to come.

    So that’s why I feel a sense of urgency on this issue. And it’s why I also feel hopeful. My experience in politics, and particularly gay politics, is that you can achieve some pretty remarkable things if you stand up for yourself and are willing to stand up to enemies (and even friends) who cross you.

    So thanks for listening. JOHN

    PS In response to the person talking about my income is based on gay politics, or something – I wish. Most of my gay political work has been campaigns I’ve launched for free with friends, such as StopDrLaura, helping sailor Timothy McVeigh ten years in his battle against AOL, or taking on Ford and Microsoft a few years ago when both went anti-gay. We won all of those battles. It is possible to win on gay rights. You just have to fight like hell. And currently, HRC is not.

  • John Aravosis

    @wondermann: I’m not sure which campaigns you’re talking about, but we won against AOL, Microsoft, Ford Motor Company, and Paramount (aka Dr. Laura). And with Dr Laura, our boycott won against 180 companies, who dropped her show. Boycotts, or any kind of political advocacy, when done right works. And the White House certainly wasn’t pleased when we got the scoop of the anti-gay DOMA brief, the one that invoked incest and pedophilia last summer. As a result of the Netroots response to the brief, the President was forced to hold a pro-gay signing ceremony in the Oval Office. That’s hardly an ineffective action. I think political advocacy on our issues works.

  • John Aravosis

    @AndrewW: I’m not making a living doing gay politics at all. My living comes from my “straight” consulting, and now my “mostly straight” blog. I’ve been doing gay advocacy for free since 1993, when I worked on the first DADT, volunteering with Senator Kennedy’s office.

    Respond to the arguments, Andrew, not the person. We’re trying to figure out if we can move our community forward politically, this year. I believe we can.

  • John Aravosis

    @Cam: That’s an excellent point. I mean, I think they CAN get the Dems off their butt, this year, but I agree with you, they’re not even trying.

  • John Aravosis

    @AndrewW: The thing is, Andrew, it’s always ineffective for a minority, just until the time it IS effective. Before the 1964 Civil Rights Act, would you have argued that Blacks should lobby congress and the President because their lack of progress on an omnibus civil rights bill meant that lobbying per se doesn’t work? I think lobbying can work – hell, there’s a reason it’s a hugely rich business in DC – the problem is that good lobbyists are willing to grab you by the balls and twist. Our lobbyists are not willing to do that. So we must do it for them. And when we do, we’re often quite effective. But this time, we need their help. We need, as someone else pointed out, for them to even just TRY.

  • AndrewW

    Again, John you don’t deal with the points raised – is it an ineffective HRC or an ineffective strategy – lobbying. You can suggest, as a self-proclaimed “expert,” until you’re blue in the face, that isn’t proof or evidence.

    Instead of misleading people by suggesting I said we have “no chance,” why not defend lobbying? While you’re at it defend your proclamations that “the President has enormous power to influence the Pentagon, he is their boss after all, and the Congress. But he’s not doing it.”

    The President can’t exert power and change votes in the US Senate. LGBT-positions are morally based and non-negotiable.

    Recently, you blocked me from commenting on your Blog, while maintaining the unfounded statements you have repeated here. Our difficulty is that half of the US Senate is Anti-Gay. Lobbying is ineffective. HRC is ineffective. If that is NOT the case – where is the evidence?

    You are your partner make money from LGBT advocacy, including Joe’s recent contract with HRC. That’s income John. You should disclose that. You should also consider shifting your attention to WINNING, not maintaining the status quo – no matter how important it makes you feel, or how much money you make.

    Welcome to FULL accountability for the LGBT Movement. You can block comments and keep playing expert, but that won’t erase the frustration in our community. We need a strategy to WIN, not the same tried-and-untrue tactics of the past. We need to be very honest and objective about how we spend our resources.

    If your lobbying actually works, please tell me how much money you need (or HRC) to get us those 4 or 5 Senators we need to pass any LGBT-legislation.

  • AndrewW

    @John Aravosis: I know it is one of your favorite things to do John, but this isn’t your Grandfathers America – we’ve had 46 years of progress. Plus, the Civil Rights Act wasn’t “lobbied” into law, Lyndon Johnson had the courage to lead. We haven’t seen leadership like that since then.

    Politicians that are Anti-Gay base their position on morality. You cannot lobby that away, just like you can’t lobby away Anti-Choice (mostly the same people). You can’t bargain for equality because we don’t have anything to trade. Sure, lobbying works on some issues (healthcare) as a kind of legal bribery. Those are very competitive environments and a lot of money changes hands. We don’t have that ability. What do you propose we trade to get their vote? It can’t just be about what’s “right,” they believe God has informed them about what’s right or acceptable. Tell me, what do you think we have to offer? Even common sense doesn’t beat God-sense.

    I’ve asked before and you had nothing. Let’s try again: please give me a US Senator that changed their anti-LGBT position because of lobbying. That would be a good start in making your case. Accountability isn’t based on “trusting” a self-described “expert, it is based on evidence. Do you have any?

    If you can prove the effectiveness of lobbying, tell me how much $ you need to get us a few more votes – i’ll pay.

  • Chance

    @John Aravosis: the White House isn’t helping, the Hill is openly complaining that the WH isn’t helping, and the WH itself is now refusing to even say publicly that it would like to see DADT repealed this year.

    I’m not sure why you’re surprised, John. Of course the Dems aren’t championing our cause. As lycra-Lysacek so poignantly said, “No one likes to lose.” It’s an election year, and an especially bad one, at that. The Dems are sweating because they haven proven themselves to be weak, championing causes they had little to no chance of winning. And you’re expecting them to add our cause to the list just because it’s the right thing to do.

    Here’s how it’s going down: The president doesn’t want to risk political capital on what he knows is a sure-fire miss, so he says, “Take it away, kids. Let me know what you manage to get done.” Nancy Pelosi looks at the bleak prospects in the Senate and says, “Hell no. Every single one of my Representatives is up for election this year. No way in Hell am I going to throw them away on a fool’s errand of a controversial issue.” Harry Reid understands all this and so doesn’t say much of anything at all.

    Maybe one of these heroes would be inspired by his or her ethical responsibility to do what’s right and decent, but it wouldn’t be because a bunch of petulant Joe Solmoneses and bloggers started whining more. You do realize what a weak minority we are, don’t you? How little weight there is behind our “demands?”

    Do what we say! Or what? What is the follow up you suggest? We won’t give you money? We won’t vote for you? We are a much smaller constituency than the church-going masses. Remember the 10% rule, then head down to Arkansas and see which constituency Blanche Lincoln is more likely to court this year.

    Further: Do you expect the average gay voter to hold steady with the DNC boycott when visions of Republican Majorities and President Palin start to dance in their heads? Because Obama doesn’t. No matter how much you think he’ll need his Presidential Pampers changed.

    And how inspiring would it be when one of those heroes stuck his or her neck through the guillotine for us. How much there is to be accomplished.

    There is no traction to be gained in this Senate! Jim Bunning doesn’t give a damn if President Obama walks into the chambers and slaps his dick on the podium. Evan Bayh would barely be titillated. No way could you get 60 senators to swoon. Welcome to the Politics of Waterloo. Even if Obama were willing, what good would it do? Would our success be comparable to the Public Option, or is Cap and Trade a closer analogy? What shining examples of Presidential influence over Congress.

    The gay movement is angry, divisive, and ineffective. We have estranged the moderate middle who support us and might actually join us if they didn’t think they would have to march the picket lines with us. Every day that we continue “fighting,” we continue to hold our allies at arm’s length. So long as the battle field is covered in crossfire, we’ll continue to have a tragic dearth of soldiers.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Chance, The scene you described, where politicians are unwilling to use their political capital on our unpopular community only helps prove the powerlessness. The tyranny of the majority has muted politicians. Legally, this helps our case. If politicians are just waiting for the Supreme Court to take the burden off of their shoulders, why are we supporting them? It’s time for the legal eagles to swoop. John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are not going to be on the bench forever. The only nightmare I could see is some TDSRYT-spawn-of-a-president will replace the two fair-minded justices with two who show no impartiality towards our dilemma.

  • Chance

    @1EqualityUSA: The courts are, I think, our best bet for legislative change at the moment. It is not, however, the avenue for social change, or for enduring change, or for steady change. Unfortunately, the politics of ‘morality’ are not as simply decided as most SCOTUS material. Any favorable decision they hand us will only become the target of conservative backlash for another three decades (See Roe v. Wade).

    Unless! We stop this spectacle of fighting and demands, and actually create a positive, forward-thinking movement. If the people join us, the legal battles take care of themselves.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Roe v. Wade is a different dilemma than equality guaranteed under law. The morality issues serves us as well, as it is not the place of government to endorse one religion over another. Coercion, especially when one set of Americans opt to deny another set of Americans equal treatment, cannot be supported. Too many tiers of rights. It cannot be supported.

  • wondermann

    @John Aravosis: I’m talking about Don’t Ask Don’t give and the DNC boycotts

  • Chance

    @1EqualityUSA: Theoretically, sure, just as theoretically a woman’s freedom to control her own body is outside of the church’s authority over the state.

    If you’ll notice, the general American public doesn’t bother itself overly much with theory.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Chance, Yes, that showed in the trial.

  • WiseUp

    How can one take someone like Aravosis seriously? During the D.C. Equality March he fled the town.

  • jason

    We are not just 4% of the population. In fact, Kinsey found that 80-90% of the male population were bisexually oriented. Therefore, the concept of the male-male sexual interaction is widespread, and not just a tiny minority.

    We need to work from the basis of the concept.

  • jason

    Aravosis makes a good point about HRC and its potential distortion of what the gay population is thinking. The political leaders in Washington don’t read blogs like queerty to see what everyday gay people are thinking. They’re too busy for that. What they see and hear comes from HRC and other gay organizations. It is possible that HRC is misrepresenting or distorting what gay people in general are thinking of Obama, and their general disgust with him.

    We need to be hard and tough on HRC. We need to make it clear to Joe Solomnese that we won’t tolerate a possible distortion. We have to tell Joe to lead or take a hike.

  • Cam

    No. 37 · jason said…
    We are not just 4% of the population. In fact, Kinsey found that 80-90% of the male population were bisexually oriented. Therefore, the concept of the male-male sexual interaction is widespread, and not just a tiny minority.

    We need to work from the basis of the concept.

    Wow, Jason, you really will use any excuse to come on to any thread and try to say that the entire world is bisexual. I’m surprised you haven’t been over to the Jan and Marcia Brady thread yet to talk about it over there.

  • AndrewW

    CONCLUSION: Queerty deserves credit for being willing to challenge preconceived notions about LGBT Advocacy. It isn’t just the organizations (HRC) and promoters (like John Aravosis), it is about ideas, methods, tactics and strategies.

    During this interview and the comments that followed, John Aravosis did NOT provide any evidence whatsoever for his assertions. He refuses to even consider accountability for tactics like lobbying. This blatant refusal to be honest and objective about our movement is our biggest problem as a community. We are not following results, we are following self-serving promoters. I think we can and must do better than that.

    Difficulties with our movement and the lack of progress are typically attributed to “infighting” among varying interests. Challenging priorities and competing for finite resources isn’t infighting, it is just natural competition for attention and funding. Contributors can decide with their participation.

    This difficulty (competition) pales in comparison to the public dismissal of accountability. Until we have the courage to hold ALL ideas, methods, tactics and strategies accountable, we will continue to experience defeat and frustration. Until we decide it is time to figure out HOW to WIN and are able to justify that strategy, we will continue to languish under the perception that we must “keep doing what we’re doing,” with the uninspiring goal of “one of these days.”

    Defenders of the status quo, especially those that make a living doing it, who are not willing to examine their own favorite tactics, are harming our movement. Everyone and everything must be held accountable.

    While seeking real, sustainable solutions to create our full equality we must also seek answers about the value of lobbying or the idea that there is an elusive “political solution” to our struggle. We have spent decades believing and hoping. It’s time to be a little more objective.

    It is time for accountability – our equality requires it.

  • kudo451

    I think the real issue is not the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of these campaigns but the surprising lethargy in recognizing new and real trends and in getting out in front of them. Truthis going after the DNC and the HRC right now is so 8 months ago and the real trends have shifted in this election year.

    Right now the individual lawmakers are being challenged in their 2010 campaigns like at no other time in history. Independents from both the conservative right and the liberal left are challenging incumbents simply because they are incumbents while moderates have taken up the mantle of being independents and simply waiting for their chance to apply their own pressure after the dust clears from the primaries.

    The American political system has crumbled and broken like an ancient South Pole Ice Sheet, and long before anyone suspected it would fractional communities such as are are cast into the cold water and violent waters of 2 wars, the worst economy in modern times, and a need for change so great even the two party system and its supporters are looking for the exits.

    Hence we are not less effective because we do not have more support. We are less effective because the system is fractured so greatly that EVERYONE is now less effective. The DNC can’t help us but they can’t stop us either. And The GOP is even weaker. Our goal right now should be to build a bigger tent in our community for more support from any and all sides as we begin to look around and get involved in local races where we either want to see greater effect of we just don’t want to see someone return to ocngress–*Cough~McCain~Cough*. This year, for the rest of this year, the devil is truly in the details.

  • AndrewW

    @kudo451: I would agree that we need to enroll more people in our effort, but I don’t think we give any organization or any tactic a pass, simply because the political environment is troubled and worsening.

    We need to get more people to join us – lobbying politicians and their immutable anti-gay beliefs doesn’t attract supporters. It only continues the fight – a fight that we are not focused on winning, but just interested in continuing.

    Sometimes the effort to achieve something, becomes the something. That’s where we are now. We need to figure out how to win and in that new pursuit, everything is on the table.

  • Josh AZ

    Aravosis exposed. Thank-you Queerty.

  • Politico NY

    “John Aravosis Is On the Attack Against HRC + the DNC. Is It Working?

    No. It’s a joke. John Aravosis makes a living playing this game. Of course he endorses the game. But, it isn’t working.

  • Cam

    No. 44 · Politico NY said…
    “John Aravosis Is On the Attack Against HRC + the DNC. Is It Working?

    No. It’s a joke. John Aravosis makes a living playing this game. Of course he endorses the game. But, it isn’t working.

    Yeeeaaaahhh, because HRC and the DNC have our best interests at heart. Please, they are siamese twins helping to sustain each other.

  • AxelDC

    HRC has two fundamental problems that keeps them from their stated goal of protecting our rights:

    1) If HRC achieves its goals, it no longer has a reason to exist. Gay rights groups have little importance in nations with full gay equality, like Canada, because their reason for being has vanished. I think HRC knows this and wants to drag their existance out for as long as possible.

    2) HRC is serving A-listers and granting them access to celebrities and power. They may mass market to the plebs, but their annual fundraiser is what they are all about. Their greatest achievement has not been ENDA or eliminating DADT or DOMA. Those aren’t even on their scope, as evidenced by their self-scuttling ENDA over transgender issues.

    No, HRC’s pinnacle moment was having President Obama address their dinner, flattering the egos of their largest gay donors. How many A-Listers got their photo op with the President, and what did gays get from that speech other than more promises?

    HRC is more about connecting rich gays with celebs. Get the Gay-listers to meet Ellen and NPH and Martina Navritilova and they will write big checks, keeping HRC in its fancy digs off Mass Ave.

    HRC is a classic example of a cause becoming business and then a racket. They are fully into racket stage now. Better start over with some other organization than feed the egos and wallets of HRC and their gay country club set.

  • AndrewW

    @AxelDC: Very well said.

    Somebody needs to tell Aravosis. Promoting (or even attacking) something that’s ineffective DOESN’T make it effective. His publicity stunts are amusing, but not productive.

  • Florida_U

    John Aravosis is a hypocrite and is no longer relevant to our community. I used to read his blog years ago amazed at the bizarre conspiracy theorists it would attract. He seemed to not care for the conspiracy sort, then, during the primaries of the last presidential election, Aravosis started attributing all sorts of unsubstantiated garbage to Hillary Clinton on his and Joe’s frequent Hillary bashing.

    Where is the criticism for Obama on DADT and other gay issues? Obama made promises to the gay community, which he has not kept. Obama could do so much more, but refuses — Just a lot of lovely lip service.

  • Bill Perdue

    HRC is one of many front groups in our communities that put the interests of the Democrats (or, in the case of Log Cabin and GOProud, the Republicans) ahead of the interests of fighting for the LGBT agenda – equality and liberation.

    This discussion is part of a broader discussion about the loser strategy of trying voting for Democrats or Republicans and expecting some payback other than the usual – getting tossed under the bus by a Clinton or an Obama.


    We’re in the second year of Obama’s presidency and I have a question for those thoughtless people who voted for him – or any Democrat or Republican for that matter.

    I mean no disrespect but when are you Democrats going to get a clue?

    You can’t say that the Democrats sharp right turn is unexpected.

    Most Democrats, including Obama voted the Paytriot adn for FISA. If you voted for Obama you voted for illegal wiretaps and the the kidnapping, torture and murder of foreign nationals.

    Likewise, he said he’d keep troops on Iraq (to steal their oil), escalate the illegal occupation of Afghanistan, support zionist ethnic cleansing and apartheid in occupied Palestine and attack Pakistan. If you voted for Obama you voted for the deaths of more GIs (5419 combined, plus well over 30,000 wounded, about half of them badly maimed and an epidemic of suicides) plus tens of thousands of additional murdered civilians from Palestine to Pakistan.

    Anyone who Obama betray us and give the bigots a big win on Prop 8 when he said ‘gawd’s in the mix’ and still voted for him voted knowingly for a bigot. They shouldn’t be surprised when he consistently acts like one.


    It was Democrats (and some Republicans) who voted to give trillions to the obscenely bloated looter class, to bust unions, and for draconian cuts in social services in what’s beginning to look a lot like a depression.

    When is enough enough?

    What does it take to convince you that neither party gives a rat’s ass about us or anyone else except when they need our votes and learn to lie through their teeth to get them? The looter rich much prefer working with Democrats like Obama and the Clintons – they’re greedier, they fool more people and they’re able to get away with a lot more than Republicans.

    If you think you can’t control yourself at least take the precaution of having “STOP ME BEFORE I VOTE AGAIN” tattooed on your forehead. And carry a pocket mirror at all times. Your votes for Democrats or Republicans hurt all of us.

    A Republican is a rightwing scoundrel with a christer theocrat attached at the hip. A Democrat is a Republican in drag.

  • Brian NYC

    A agree with the comments above. Aravosis makes money from politics – that’s more important to him than our equality.

  • SistersTalk Radio

    It’s amazing what happens when the HRC’s ad dollars start disappearing on gay blogs. Suddenly, gay bloggers who had their head up the HRC’s ass for a long, long time are jumping on the anti-HRC bandwagon. Back in the day (2000 – 2006ish or so) when the HRC was spending big bucks on HRC-friendly blogs, you couldn’t find a gay blogger who had anything nasty to say about the HRC (besides a few of us who wouldn’t be silenced for any amount of money). Now that the HRC’s ad dollars have dried up and these gay bloggers are looking for ad buys from grassroots LGBT organizations, there’s much HRC-nastiness coming from everywhere.

    Well, I guess it’s better late then never, right?

  • Mark in Indiana

    No. 48 · Florida_U–thanks for mentioning that fact…Aravosis once nearly wet his panties having a picture taken with Hillary on capital hill and spun a huge long post about how special that was…then when Hillary ran for president, he started the racist drumbeat along with every other numb nut in the blogosphere–he couldn’t WAIT for Obama! Obama! Obama!

    Now, if you read Americablog, he mouth craps all day long about how he and Joe “saw Obama’s disconnect coming a year ago”–no John, you didn’t. What you saw was your own reflection in a puddle of saliva when you thought about Barry O.

    Fuck the Hillary haters, and fuck Aravosis.

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