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Taking the Keys – And The Checkbook – Away from Gay Inc.



After millions of dollars, and several decades of mediocre advocacy, is it time to take away the keys, and the checkbook, from Gay, Inc.?

Columnists Tanya Domi and Clinton Fein hold a discussion.

Clinton: As we head into a new election season, it’s instructive to take note of powerful initiatives that have been and continue making an impact. Consider Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” project or the “Ben Cohen Acceptance Tour 2011,” by the England World Cup rugby player of the same name. Both address homophobia and bullying and the recent spate of widely publicized suicides and beatings that are finally making people take notice. Most recently, the world champion San Francisco Giants released an “It Gets Better” video. An unprecedented coming out of professional and/or amateur sports figures is shattering stereotypes and providing kids with diverse and powerful role models.

Tanya: I agree Clinton with your conclusions.  To date, Savage and Cohen’s groundbreaking efforts have been the most powerful, visually attractive, and personally effective messages advocating for the acceptance of LGBT people in American history.

I actually think Savage and Cohen were able to create these platforms and projects because they were not hemmed in by organizational politics and had no limits of creativity as individuals. Despite all the cash that the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), has managed to raise, they have not created anything to date that comes close to that of Savage or Cohen.

Clinton: Seventeen months before the election HRC, the gay community’s largest lobbying organization announced they are endorsing Obama in 2012. The issues they claim to be focusing on are the same ones they’ve been focused on since anyone can remember. The only newsworthy thing about their predictable, yawn-inducing announcement was that they shot their wad earlier than usual – before the presidential field has been formally established. And even so, hardly anyone noticed.

Tanya: Yes, they will be invited to more White House receptions perhaps because of this endorsement and they may get meetings with some key officials, but in the final analysis, they are not taking the community with them. We still do not have complete repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, nor do we have a date of certification to repeal.  David Smith, the Vice President of Programs backed the White House “take or leave it DADT repeal plan” proposed by Jim Messina, the then-deputy chief of staff of the Whites House in late 2009 (now the Obama ’12 campaign manager), and Smith’s takeaway was essentially “the community may not like it, but we (HRC) will follow the White House lead and do exactly what they dictate, no matter the fall out,” according to a person familiar with the process.

Now, there are anti-gay amendments included in the House National Defense Authorization Bill that would impede the final steps for repeal.  What is the plan?  Wait on the White House? That is not a strategy.  HRC did not lead alone on the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate Crimes Act, but co-chaired the effort with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the Anti-Defamation League, who has led the hate crimes coalition and has been a leader on fighting bigotry for decades. HRC has not moved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to a successful vote in Congress, 17 years and counting.  They own the federal legislative ponderosa—where is the strategy? So despite all the millions in cash they have raised, they have very little to show for it.  It is quite a damning legacy.

Clinton: For decades now, the giddy, star-fucking Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) hosts lavish ceremonies, providing awards to celebs for playing gay persons without resorting to old, trite stereotypes — as if that’s either an acting or humanitarian achievement. Again, aside from a few self-defined A-gays clucking at the thought of being surrounded by a few lower letter celebrities, the world was more interested in just about anything else.

Tanya: The question today is should GLAAD close their doors?  They have been bleeding money since late 2008.  They have lost nearly 14 board members and numerous staff members during the past year and a half because of alleged dubious actions by Jarrett Tomás Barrios, President of GLAAD.  According to an interview by journalist Michael Signorile of GLAAD former Board Co-Chair Laurie Perper, on June 7, Perper asserted that Barrios, desperate to hang onto vital board support, agreed to endorse the AT&T-T-Mobile merger, in exchange for backing by Troup Coronado, a board member and a former Vice-President of Public Affairs with AT&T, according to the GLAAD website.  Barrios sent a letter of support from GLAAD to the Federal Communications Commission.

Clinton: The whole GLAAD AT&T-T-Mobile mess is unbelievable. Here you have an organization that is supposed to serve as a watchdog to identify and remedy negative portrayals or misrepresentations of gays in the media behaving in a way that brings shame and discredit on the very community it purports to represent. And further, gives fodder to those who have been reprimanded or called out by GLAAD, that their motives are more about self-enrichment than anything else.

It’s time for a metaphorical Gay Inc. exfoliation.  Not only is HRC a flaccid, impotent DC-ensconced waste of oxygen, but their complacency and lack of achievement is no longer just a matter of ineffectiveness, it’s dangerous. Their claim that they represent gays and lesbians is slanderous and their raising money on that premise is fraudulent. Who exactly do they represent? (Rich, white males and a few token lesbians need not answer.)

Tanya: This is the point Clinton—HRC is a very effective marketing machine—“but there is no there there”.  They organize nice dinners around the country and if the annual D.C. dinner is headlined by an Obama Administration official, they can make a killing in fundraising.  But the fact remains, what have they achieved with this money?

Contrast HRC’s achievements with that Paul Yandura, a former politico who served in the Clinton White House, who teamed up with Jonathan Lewis, a progressive funder, took their money and resources elsewhere, despite overtures from HRC (who asked gay donors to back their/White House DADT repeal “strategy and plan”) and started Get Equal in January 2010 to amazing, concrete results in just 12 months by helping push DADT across the finish line.  This nascent and nimble civil disobedience organization, has put some kick back into accountability of government officials and the gay organizations alike. Get Equal drove Obama and many of his staff members to distraction, as it staged civil disobedience acts and haunted the Administration at every turn during the debate on DADT that ultimately led to the repeal of the law.

Yandura and Get Equal staff have created an effective alternative, as have the successful projects of Savage and Cohen. Their success lifts all LGBT boats.  We should not fear change in creating new organizations that are effective.  Our movement has significant infrastructure today—+500 LGBT organizations around the country, including 29 national organizations according to the Movement Advancement Project, who spend $161 million dollars in annual operating budgets, with 808 persons on their respective staff. We are at a crossroads and that requires innovation accompanied by new thinking outside the box.  If you want to maintain the ossified status quo then stick with HRC and GLAAD and remain frustrated and angry.

But the rules of the game has changed and the new generation of LGBT young people are not going to wait another 40 years for equality.  Gay, Inc. needs to be more transparent, less secretive and elite and much more dynamic and responsive.  I do not see that happening anytime soon.

Clinton: At a certain point in life, when hearing and eyesight deteriorate and reflexes of seniors who are just a little too slow, driving can become a serious hazard to the driver and anyone on or near the road. It’s up to the people around them to step in before anyone is injured. Caregivers, usually their children, are advised to pay attention to warning signs that it may be time to take away their keys and figure out alternative transportation.

The warning signs have been around for a while now, but they have become increasingly impossible to ignore. Those of us wanting a new kind of organization, with fresh, new ideas, uncompromised transparency and community input need to act.

For GLAAD and HRC, it’s too late. It’s now time for these organizations to stop siphoning much needed money the community could use for far more important, measurable things and to be firmly retired, moved away from the machinery and have their keys taken away.


Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.

Clinton Fein is an internationally acclaimed author, artist, and First Amendment activist, best-​known for his 1997 First Amendment Supreme Court victory against United States Attorney General Janet Reno. Fein has also gained international recognition for his Annoy​.com site, and for his work as a political artist. Fein is on the Board of Directors of the First Amendment Project, “a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and promoting freedom of information, expression, and petition.” Fein’s political and privacy activism have been widely covered around the world. His work also led him to be nominated for a 2001 PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award.

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Trump Lawyer’s ‘Critical Evidence’ Will Help DOJ Make Decision to Charge ‘Without Significant Delay’: Former Prosecutor



Donald Trump‘s attorney Evan Corcoran, who allegedly directed another Trump attorney to draft the false statement claiming all classified and sensitive documents had been returned, has been ordered to testify before a grand jury and hand over documents and records to Special Counsel Jack Smith in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents criminal investigation.

Trump appealed U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell’s decision ordering Corcoran to testify and hand over documents, including handwritten notes. The Appeals Court in light speed mode, rejected Trump’s appeal.

Corcoran will be testifying before the grand jury on Friday, CNN reports.

RELATED: ‘National Security Implications’: Former DOJ Official Speculates on Ruling Ordering Trump Attorney to Hand Over Docs

One former top DOJ official, Brandon Van Grack, says the “Special Counsel is about to get access to the most critical evidence in the case. Should allow DOJ to make a charging decision without significant delay.”

He did not define what “without significant delay” means in terms of days, weeks, or months.

Van Grack served at Main Justice for eleven years, including as a lead prosecutor in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, and later, as the Chief of the DOJ’s Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) Unit.

“The announcement from a panel of three judges in the appeals court – less than a day after Trump sought to put Corcoran’s testimony on hold – adds momentum to the special counsel investigation as it seeks to secure evidence that could make or break a federal criminal case against Trump,” CNN explains. “The Justice Department has successfully argued in court that prosecutors have enough evidence that Trump’s interactions with the lawyer were part of a possible crime that they can pierce the confidentiality of the conversations between the two.”

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‘National Security Implications’: Former DOJ Official Speculates on Ruling Ordering Trump Attorney to Hand Over Docs



A former top Dept. of Justice official says a federal judge’s expedited ruling ordering an attorney for Donald Trump to testify against his client before a grand jury and hand over documents very well may be related to “national security.”

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ruled that DOJ Special Counsel Jack Smith had successfully made the case Donald Trump may have committed a crime, via his attorneys, in his classified documents case. That finding allowed her to invoke the crime-fraud exception, and order Trump attorney Evan Corcoran to testify before the grand jury investigating the ex-president’s unlawful retention and refusal to return hundreds of classified documents.

Former FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann, who also worked for Special Counsel Robert Mueller and headed the DOJ’s Criminal Fraud Section, Wednesday afternoon on MSNBC said it’s possible Judge Howell’s expedited decisions were related to national security.

Tuesday night Judge Howell ordered DOJ to provide information by 6:00 AM Wednesday.

READ MORE: Jim Jordan’s Attack on Manhattan DA Will ‘Backfire’ and Allow Democrats to Expose Coordination With Trump: Columnist

Trump appealed Howell’s ruling, and Wednesday afternoon the Appeals Court denied his appeal related to the documents, Politico reports.

“I’ve never seen anything that quick. It’s very hard to know why. I have to say, to me, when I think about what can be a plausible reason– and this is pure speculation – is that there must be something in the papers that gave the judges concern about national security implications, because it’s such a short timeframe.”

“The reason this is a bombshell is you could end up with Evan Corcoran as a key, fundamental witness against Donald Trump in an obstruction of justice case and a false statements case,” Weissmann adds.

According to Politico, Wednesday’s appeals court ruling “effectively permits the Justice Department to circumvent Trump’s attorney-client privilege after a lower-court judge found that the documents likely contain evidence of a crime.”

NEW: Trump Lawyer’s ‘Critical Evidence’ Will Help DOJ Make Decision to Charge ‘Without Significant Delay’: Former Prosecutor


This article was updated to correctly spell Andrew Weissmann’s last name.

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Trump Appeals After Judge Agrees With Special Counsel on Crime-Fraud Exception and Requires His Attorney to Testify



Donald Trump’s attorneys have appealed a ruling that requires one of his lawyers to testify before a grand jury investigating his unlawful removal, retention, and refusal to return classified documents from the White House.

Attorneys for the Special Counsel “said there is evidence of a deliberate effort not to turn over all the material covered by the subpoena,” The Washington Post reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell had reportedly agreed with Special Counsel Smith that there is sufficient evidence proving Donald Trump may have committed a crime via his attorneys, and ruled his attorney must testify before a grand jury. The ruling, which was not made public, was handed down Friday night, NBC News reported Wednesday afternoon.

Judge Howell “ruled in favor of applying the ‘crime fraud’ exception to Trump’s attorney-client privilege and ordered Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran to testify before the federal grand jury.”

READ MORE: ‘On Standby’: Experts Say Manhattan Hush Money Grand Jury Delay ‘Not All That Surprising’

Trump’s attorneys have already appealed the ruling.

“People familiar with the matter said an appeals panel has already begun reviewing the decision, after Trump’s lawyers appealed,” The Washington Post adds. “The extraordinarily quick timeline suggests that the judges — all nominated by Democratic presidents — intend to rule swiftly.”

Trump could take his case all the way to the Supreme Court, but The Post says it’s “not clear he would have a much better chance of success there.”

According to an NBC News report from October, Corcoran directed another Trump attorney, Christina Bobb, to sign the letter claiming a thorough search of Mar-a-Lago had been made and all classified or “sensitive” documents had been returned. That was proven untrue after federal agents, executing a search warrant, recovered hundreds of documents with classified markings.

NEW: ‘National Security Implications’: Former DOJ Official Speculates on Ruling Ordering Trump Attorney to Hand Over Docs

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