Democratic Party and LGBT rights advocates Paul Yandura and Donald Hitchcock hosted a discussion on achieving LGBT legal equality Thursday evening with civil rights activist Juan Ahonen-Jover, Ph.D., author of “The Gay Agenda 2012: All Out.” He talked about his book and why he wrote it and generated a lively discussion on the issues surrounding how the LGBT community moves forward from here.
Yandura and Hitchcock welcomed guests to their home, spoke about activism and introduced the author who spoke about the book and his activism. The book is about where he thinks the LGBT community needs to go in the future if we are to achieve the goals he sets out. He was speaking to a room full of advocates, who, while they may not be running any of our community’s major organizations, do have an extraordinary impact on the community. Among the 30 or so attending were Dana Beyer, Lisa Turner, Dan Choi, Dixon Osburn and Dan Furmansky.
The book is divided into four main areas. First is a discussion on “What is LGBT?” It tries to define what is family, what the Bible says and how we move to have people understand, accept and respect the community. The second section is titled, “What is the Gay Agenda?” In this section, he discusses what we are looking for. Is it special rights or rather a series of what he defines as “equality goals.” He talks about hate crimes, serving in the military, marriage equality, freedom of gender and protecting youth among other goals. The third section addresses “Different Paths.” It is a discussion on use of the courts, legislatures, considering whom to endorse as a candidate, how best to spend the community’s money and his thoughts on building coalitions. The final section is a discussion on what individuals can do called “Your Turn.” Then there are three appendixes listing major names in the LGBT community and in history. One that stands out for not being on these lists is Frank Kameny and I am sure there are many others but then no such list is ever complete. There is an appendix on the Dallas Principles identifying the authors by descriptions of what they were doing at the time and one is particularly humorous.
The discussion ranged from why one is supporting President Obama to how to make a decision on whom to support and the criteria one should use. Ahonen-Jover suggested that there are candidates he calls “heartbreakers” who talk about their support for the LGBT community but don’t quite get it and only support partial civil and human rights. He suggests that those individuals shouldn’t receive our financial support. He also suggests that we stop giving money to those who don’t need it to win their races even if they are totally supportive of us but say to them that we need our limited resources to support electing others who share their views. There was some discussion on whether the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund strayed too far from its mission in the effort to boast about a “winning percentage” with regard to the candidates they support. A number of people brought up the issue of whether to take money (they referred to it as dirty money) for marriage equality campaigns from those who support marriage equality but who then also support candidates who are pledged to see that it doesn’t happen.
Many in the room knew each other and are all looking to find some agreement on where to take the fight for LGBT rights. There seemed to be consensus in the room that if President Obama wins reelection there needs to be an all-out push for movement in the fight for civil and human rights for the LGBT community immediately starting with the lame duck Congress and if he loses that there still needs to be a strong push for his immediately signing the executive order barring discrimination in hiring practices by federal contractors.