Wednesday, March 23, 2011

United we will win Full Equality.

Back in January/February of 2010, I was one of the founding Board Members of “Catholics For Equality.” I later resigned from the Board of Directors of that organization for several reasons. However, one of the good ideas in the nescient stage of that organization was that it would serve as a “holding company” for many and varied Catholic LGBTQ organizations. It would be able to provide a rapid response to any Anti-LGBTQ legislative/media attacks by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. It would also be able to conduct media campaigns and coordinate legislative efforts in our quest for full equality.

This last weekend I attended several receptions for differing LGBTQ organizations in Washington DC. In a conversation with a journalist, we lamented the fact that different LGBTQ organizations often work at cross-purposes. Most recently in the legislative battle in Maryland, some LGBTQ organizations refused to share data base information with other LGBTQ organizations that were attempting to mobilize voters. If only we had a “holding company” for all the major LGBTQ organizations. Let’s call it, “Equality Now,” for the sake of convenience.

The Board of Directors of Equality Now would be comprised of the Executive Directors of the major LGBTQ organizations. The Board would meet quarterly and, although these proceedings would be confidential, transcripts would be kept and later be made public, as are done with Presidential papers. Let’s say, seven years. This would assure transparency and accountability from Board Members/Organizations for their words and actions/inaction.

The Board would also oversee particular campaigns as required by circumstances (e.g. legislative battles such as the one in Maryland, ballot initiatives in the various states, etc.). The fact that the existence of something like “Equality Now” would be publicly known, would go a long way in helping to coordinate and unite our community in the many battles yet to come. Public knowledge of this organization would also serve to lift morale and provide focus for our community, as we fight for full legal equality on the Federal level and then, later in the battles for full social inclusion.

We need to address some of the issues that have divided our community in the past and now in the present. Two comments that I have often heard are:


Some flagship LGBTQ organizations stand accused of compromising with politicians for the sake of access and the purported “influence” that such access provides. Some have gone so far as to assert that these flagship organizations’ worst nightmare would be the immediate certification/repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell [DADT], the repeal of the “so-called” Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA] and the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act [ENDA]. The rationale for such an assertion is that if we attained full legal equality today, these organizations would lose their funding and go out of business tomorrow.

President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the NAACP did not cease to exist the next day. Sadly, long after we win full legal equality we will still have many struggles and much work to accomplish before we end social bigotry against LGBTQ people in this nation.


Years ago my niece required very delicate neurosurgery. There was a high risk that the surgery would only be partially effective and that she might lose some cognitive and speech functions. The surgeon worked for many hours and my niece came out of the surgery with her faculties intact. I do not care how much money that surgeon makes a year, in fact I hope that he is very generously paid. There is a Spanish saying, “Save on the physician, spend on the mortician.” Free/cheap is not always better and in fact can be a false economy. “You get what you pay for.” Is a good rule of thumb, provided of course, that you actually get what you pay for.

Frankly, it is irrelevant if an LGBTQ Executive Director, Development Director, Communication Director, etc, gets to work in a City bus or in a chauffer driven Bentley limousine. What is relevant is that they get to work and that work produces substantive and discernable results. Lest any eyebrows be raised here, I am a volunteer Board Member with Get Equal, I filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year and my total cash reserves, as of this writing, are $24.19 so, this statement is in no way “self-serving.”


“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Progress requires of us the humility to recognize that no one individual or LGBTQ organization alone will be able to “win the day.” Each individual and LGBTQ organizations possess talents, strengths, also weaknesses, and shortcomings. Together we can hold each other up and carry each other forward towards victory. Otherwise, we will become a parody of ourselves, twelve divas fighting for one spotlight. The cost of that parody does not merely entail suffering bad theater and over inflated egos, the cost will be the unnecessary and unjust postponement of full equality for us all.

1 comment:

Tal said...

I don't think many people realize the sacrifices many of those who advocate for gay causes make. Many if not most of the leaders in the gay rights movement are well educated and charismatic, and can certainly be earning more doing something else.

You, I think, sacrificed more than most. There's a reason priests universally tend to stay quiet and at least publicly acquiescent (a shocking result when you think about the large percentage of priests and religious who are lesbian and gay). Bishops wield tremendous authority under Canon Law, and especially if acting with the imprimatur of Rome, can do many an unpleasant thing to a recalcitrant priest, even one who has faithfully followed the dictates of his faith, religion and creed. (Important to note what the Diocese of Fresno did to you for publicly opposing the hierarchy's efforts to keep LGBT people from attaining their full rights as tax paying, law abiding citizens. Much quicker its action against you than decades worth of clergy who repeatedly abused children.)

How many us remain quiet on our true selves for any myriad of reasons, and take the benefits of the sacrifices that you and others in the gay rights movement make? It is many.

God bless you, and know that my prayers are with you.