Over the last several months I have read articles in this newspaper about our nationwide LGBT organizations, the need for more of them, and the possibility of another march on Washington. After the disappointing outcome of marriage equality in Maryland, I can firmly respond to each of these questions.
First, despite being active in the community for six years, I cannot tell you the purpose of half of these organizations. I understand the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network as their entire mission is to support our gay military members. However, there are many other groups out there that seem to have multiple areas of focus. I have met several people that work at the organizations that are based here in the region. Unfortunately, like most of our politicians, they seem content with fighting amongst themselves and finding ways to prolong their own necessity, versus actively trying to reach a successful end to their cause.
Second, if a knowledgeable person like me can’t tell what all of these organizations do, why then do we need to discuss creating more of them? Perhaps, as some contributors to this paper have stated, we could reduce the number of groups or perhaps let each group tackle a certain issue. When they seem to try their hand at multiple causes, it doesn’t seem like any of them do their job particularly well. Recently, as editor Kevin Naff and others have pointed out, these nationwide organizations contributed to the blunder that was the Maryland marriage equality effort. They came in late to the party, didn’t take the time to understand the political workings of the state, and helped sabotage the whole effort by their own arrogance.
I am sorry, but as a Marylander I would like to see a vote taken in my state before I worry about the effect it could have on Rhode Island or New York. I live in Maryland and my life matters now; I don’t care how I am perceived in other states.
Many intelligent folks, including Rep. Barney Frank, have stressed that very little will be accomplished in this Congress. We have seen far and wide that the gains we make are at the local level. So why then are we discussing another march on Washington? If every pundit tells you there are no gains to be had in this Congress, why would you be so naïve to think they are all wrong? Personally I don’t think there is anything to gain unless you are in the entertainment industry — restaurants, hotels and bars would all love another influx of out-of-town guests.
Instead, these activists should be working locally to get rights. Even the most basic protections are worthy of applause. To those that worked hard to get some favorable laws passed in Missoula, Montana or Anchorage, Alaska, I applaud you. You are the ones making the real change. A march will not overturn tough adoption laws in the South.
I get donation requests from at least 10 different LGBT groups and I can’t begin to tell you the mission of each one of them. Before we move forward and create yet another group fighting for our rights (or are they really just fighting against themselves?), perhaps we should evaluate the purpose and effectiveness of the groups we have now. Part of the examination is obvious — we gain the most when we get local people with local knowledge to fight the battles. When we try a nationwide persuasion at something like marriage equality we fail.
With this Congress we don’t stand much chance of moving forward, so why not spend our money on working causes at the local level and replacing anti-gay Congressman in 2012? — Chris Greaver, Washington
Re: “No pro-choice litmus test for Victory Fund” (op-ed by Robert Turner, April 1)
Ah, spring. Just like the swallows’ return to San Juan Capistrano, the right reboots its mischief making again. This often isn’t a question of Republicans against Democrats. It’s the slow, insistent chiseling away at the unifying center consensus that holds society together. Apparently there must always be drama.
On the question of reproductive choice, even though Democrats disagree about the direct question of abortion they have mostly recognized that the choices belong to the woman in consultation with her doctor, not the government. This view rankles the right most because so many Republicans have embraced it.
Robert Turner wants to pick a fight within the LGBT community about whether the Victory Fund should make changes to its endorsement criteria. Presuming that there is an army of viable, out, anti-abortion, LGBT candidates waiting to burst onto the scene is just silly.
I do applaud conservative LGBT people for coming out and stepping forward into the public square to join the debate. There have always been closeted conservatives just as there have been closeted people in every walk of life. It’s better to have everyone, particularly public officials and political candidates, be open about who they are. LGBT conservatives should keep speaking out and keep running for office. If and when their candidacies demonstrate viability they will find support. As more good candidates run viable campaigns they will gain traction and achieve success.
The Victory Fund’s endorsement of Dan Hill, who ran well (but lost), may prove that such candidates deserve a chance but it doesn’t make the case for a sea change in Victory Fund policy. The steady, evolving, politically astute judgments of the Victory Fund should continue. I bet we’ll hear from them when it really is time to make a change.
— Brian Johnson, Falls Church, Va.