March 23, 2010 | by Kevin Naff
Feedback for March 26

The following comments were submitted as letters to the editor or posted to our web site. Visit www.washingtonblade.com to join the conversation.

Re: “The guiding hand in winning marriage equality” (viewpoint by Lane Hudson, March 5)

I appreciate the accolades from Lane Hudson in the DC Agenda. I’m extremely pleased with our success in achieving marriage equality. There were quite a large number of people who contributed to our win and we can all take some credit.

I do have a different recollection of how our effort progressed. At the founding meeting of DC for Marriage, I presented the on-going incremental plan that I had been working on for several years, at first while representing the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA) and later in concert with them, especially Rick Rosendall, who was critical to the success of marriage equality in the District.

The assembled group seemed very pleased with my legislative plan and the criteria that I outlined for when the Congress would not interfere with us and how we could deal with an initiative. They also agreed that the time to move a bill hadn’t arrived, but we could do a lot to prepare for that day.

DC for Marriage’s embrace of my general strategy was quite a relief. I had worried that they were going to push for a marriage bill right away, or pull some other stunt that would delay or harm our efforts. Under Michael Crawford’s direction, DC for Marriage worked to create the public support we needed for our win. Michael created a social media and traditional media campaign, a direct contact and pledge effort, and other outreach that resulted in thousands and thousands of supporters. Countless other people found ways to make a difference and grow support for marriage equality.

A legislative, judicial or ballot loss could have set us back a decade or more. Going too soon would mean that we would be delayed in getting marriage equality. There would be a time when all the pieces came together and we would need to be prepared.

GLAA, the Gertrude Stein Club, and DC for Marriage leaders all agreed in January 2009 that the time for a marriage equality bill was not right. By April, we all agreed that the time had come for the marriage recognition bill and by summer we all agreed that it was time for the final bill, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Equality Act.

The careful incremental strategy didn’t rush us forward, but it moved us forward with deliberate steps. Each legislative victory carefully changed the laws that could have been used against us while increasing the rights of couples. In the end, everyone was on board and recognized that the moment had arrived and we were ready for it. — Bob Summersgill

Re: “3 arrested at White House protest” (news story by Lou Chibbaro Jr., March 18)

Funny how these rich self-congratulating queens, who do nothing for the cause themselves, apart from attending $1,000 a plate dinners, have the nerve to criticize those who are actually willing to put it all on the line. “Politically unsophisticated,” look who’s talking! These rich sellouts are telling us to mindlessly stand by President Obama and the Dems in Congress when they haven’t done jack for us for over a decade. It really is time for us to demand our rights, and tell President Obama and the Dems in no uncertain terms that if they don’t deliver on their promises to the LGBT community, they can forget about us volunteering for their campaigns, giving them money or showing up for them on Election Day, because true enough, that is what they understand. We must insist that they pass the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act, ENDA, and repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” this year, before the election. — Tim

American history was largely made by people who, under that standard, were “politically unsophisticated beyond belief.” — Doctor Whom

Obama never would have come to HRC’s dinner if Robin McGehee hadn’t organized the march on Washington. What will this direct activism generate? McGehee is becoming a genuine LGBT hero. — Joe

I applaud Lt. Choi. It is an incredibly gutsy thing to chain yourself to the White House fence while in uniform. This is one president who might actually take notice. We need more gay servicemen and women to take similar action so that the president, Congress and the rest of America can’t continue to ignore this deplorable situation. — Lee H

Way to go! If everyone did their part in spotlighting this issue it would be passed speedily. Certain people, like Lt. Choi, are lighting rods that can be used like today. As far as the “gay activist” Phil Attey, to each their own. You shouldn’t be negative toward others means of expression. Your way isn’t the only right way to progress the topic no matter what opinion you might have! Yes, Congress is where laws are made but the passion of the people cannot be contained in a bill. We must be vocal! We must be steadfast and use the media to remind Obama of his promise. — Michael A

Phil Attey may no longer work for HRC, but he sure as hell still thinks like someone getting a paycheck from them. The folks who need educating are the executives, board members and staffers at HRC, and what they need to be educated about is that a big portion of the gay community is fed up with being told to wait.

In the spring of 1993, before President Clinton proposed DADT, Tim McFeeley of HRCF and Tonya Domi of NGLTF organized a lift-the-ban rally. Guess where it was held? Freedom Plaza! Now, 17 years later, HRC takes us back there, but this time, the rally was turned into a march — to the White House.

Bravo to all who took action over HRC’s “wait and let’s put on some more gala dinners” approach today. — MPetrelis

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

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