It’s Time The Most Diverse Group In History Became One
As an independent voice in LGBT politics, I have the luxury and the responsibility to support those ideas that bring us closer to our goals. I received an email yesterday from Tacoma Washington resident and Board Chair of Tacoma Rainbow Center, Willie Painter. In it, he addresses an issue I have struggled with over the past few months: our diversity, which is our greatest strength, is under-utilized, untapped, and, as a result, is becoming our Achilles heel. Our diversity has led us to our recent wins in Vermont, Maine, even Iowa, but is also inhibiting our ability to address challenges with one clear voice in the battlegrounds of New Hampshire, New York, and especially California. In fact, California has become the “Groundhog Day” in our fight for equality: we continue to loose there, over and over, and we will continue to do so until we figure out how to move our message forward.
It’s no secret we lost California because we didn’t talk to the right people, use the right words, or use our greatest strength: our selves. That’s changing, and, while the travesty that is Proposition 8 has won and won again, we are moving towards the right message. But our adversaries are waging an all-out war, using the most heinous of all weapons: lies told about children, using children. It’s time we call NOM and others on this ugly tactic.
We have simple truths: we are the faceless, nameless, average, ordinary citizens who live simple lives, unknown to most, and we are the superstars of stage and screen, science, and services. Many of us want families, and children, and many of us do not. There is a strong meme wafting about the Internet right now, bemoaning the gentrification and assimilation of our outliers, our most colorful and unique members. But the more we wage these battles within our group, the more we risk taking our eye off the ball. Already, this week, we let the media control the conversation: instead of focusing our energies on next week’s fight in New Hampshire, or the three weeks left in our New York battle, or the work left to do on the Hate Crimes Bill, we let our anger over a lost Proposition 8 move our efforts. Now, we risk two losses: the one we have already lost over and over in California, and, in my opinion, the more important battle in New Hampshire. Why more important? Because our battle in New Hampshire was won, by the people already there. They won the war the right way: by being themselves, convincing their friends and neighbors without outside armies. And, since 2003, the majority of New Hampshire voters support gay marriage. For us to loose a tangible result of the battle in which we have already won hearts and minds is inexcusable.
All this brings me back to where I started. I received an email yesterday from Willie Painter, a man I have never met, never spoken with, and until yesterday had never even heard of. We have exchanged a few emails now. And now, I will share with you his message. And following it, the thoughts of two of our better-known LGBT orgainzations: Freedom To Marry, and The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Dear LGBTQ organization leaders:
In the past 24 hours, I have been solicited for donations by Human Rights Campaign, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, my state’s local Equal Rights Washington, and a handful of others! All these aforementioned organizations have communicated their opinions regarding the California Supreme Court’s decision in response to Prop. 8. All these aforementioned organizations have made a plea for funds to enable them to advocate on behalf of LGBTQ people in the fight for marriage equality. However, in all of these communications, there has been no indication that these wonderful, like-minded organizations (and presumably many other federal and state LGBTQ organizations with a mission that seeks equality under the law for LGBTQ citizens) are collaborating and using donations in a collective, leveraging way to most effectively fight for equality on behalf of all those of us who desire and seek to get married and have marriage rights legally recognized in every state, throughout the United States.
We are strongest when we collaborate, when like-minded organizations are completely transparent with one another and their respective stakeholders, and when donors know that their donations are maximized by the leveraged use of their precious funds. I believe that we will soon see a day when LGBTQ people have the same legal rights as their heterosexual counterparts in every state. That day will come much sooner when all LGBTQ organizations commit and actively work together in ways that leverage the collective power of their respective supporters/volunteers/donors. So, that is a challenge I offer to all those in leadership positions of our LGBTQ organizations throughout the United States. And I, hopefully just like all the other hundreds of thousands of US citizens just like me, want our day, the day of true and actual equality, to come sooner rather than later. And I am confident that the hundred of thousands of US citizens just like me will become more actively involved than ever when LGBTQ organizations throughout the United States unite on this common front that will define this remarkable period in our humanity.
I ask you leaders to strongly consider holding a summit to tie the bond that your respective organizations share–equality. Please seek to find a way to most effectively and collaboratively advocate on behalf of us LGBTQ people in the United States who, perhaps more than ever before, need your leadership during this pivotal time of our shared future, soon to be our shared history. Let’s together make the transition from future to history one that we can all be proud of.
I reached out to a few friends in the LGBTQ arena. I’m grateful to them for their responses:
“While we know all of our partners in the movement for the freedom to marry work hard to collaborate, itâ€™s also true that there should be more.Â With the progress recently achieved in the number of states joining Massachusetts and Connecticut in embracing marriage and the increasing efforts being made by our opponents to slow that progress through fear and innuendo, now is clearly the time for us all to work together as closely and forcefully as possible.Â We need to win more states and build the climate for change nationally, and that will only happen if we all individually talk about why marriage matters with our friends and family, neighbors and colleagues while helping to support a co-ordinated, collaborative movement of partner organizations, both gay and non-gay, in the struggle to end discrimination in marriage. “Â Â â€”Â Evan Wolfson, Freedom To Marry
“We agree that a collaborating movement is a stronger movement! The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has worked with numerous LGBT and non-LGBT organizations over the last 36 years. While each LGBT organization makes a unique contribution to our movement, we are proud of our extensive history of collaborative initiatives. For example, we:
work in partnership with SAGE (the premier LGBT organization working on aging issues) to address LGBT aging concerns and we receive collaborative funding for this work;
work in ongoing coalition with many national LGBT advocacy organizations in lobbying for pro-LGBT legislation and administration policy changes;
have hosted for over a decade the National Policy Roundtable (over 35 national LGBT organizations coordinating policy work and sharing strategies) and the National Religious Leadership Roundtable (a convening of over 65 faith leaders working to counter religious-based bigotry and promote understanding of and respect for LGBT people);
worked side by side with state, local and national organizations to win marriage equality in Massachusetts and Maine, and work with states across the country on nondiscrimination measures and marriage equality. And we have worked in partnership with organizations in California for over five years on marriage equality.
Our National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change has been called the â€œTown Square of the Movement,â€ where our colleagues come together to strategize about collaborative efforts, share resources and hone new skills and technologies. We invite advocates and activists from across the country to join us for next yearâ€™s Creating Change in Dallas, Texas.
We are honored to collaborate with so many talented and dynamic organizations.”
â€”Â Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
For the record, I agree with Willie: It’s time our LGBTQ organizations find a way to work together, publicly, to move the ball forward. Our diversity is most effective when it’s leveraged. Together.
So, what’s your thought? How do you feel our leaders are serving us? What do you feel are the necessary next steps for us to achieve full equality, in marriage and civil rights, for all LGBTQ peoples?
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Wealthy Florida Community Got COVID Vaccine Before Anyone Else — Then the Governor Got a $250,000 Contribution
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis may have scored big in the CPAC Straw Poll last weekend, but his citizens aren’t likely to appreciate wealthy communities being able to jump the line for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Miami Herald reported Wednesday that Florida’s elderly are still struggling to sign up to get their first dose of the vaccine, but in a wealthy gated enclave in the Florida Keys, everyone was vaccinated in January.
A Jan. 22 newsletter sent to the Herald revealed that the Ocean Reef Club in north Key Largo despite the rest of the state struggling to get the vaccine, “Over the course of the last two weeks, the Medical Center has vaccinated over 1,200 homeowners who qualify under the State of Florida’s Governor’s current Order for those individuals who are 65 years of age or older.”
“We are fortunate to have received enough vaccines to ensure both the first and second for those vaccinated,” the newsletter message continued. “At this time, however, the majority of the State has not received an allocation of first doses of vaccines for this week and beyond, and the timing of any subsequent deliveries remains unclear.”
The Herald questioned whether the Republican donors who live in the area are behind the decision to give quick and easy access.
“In fact, the only people from Key Largo who gave to DeSantis’ political committee live in Ocean Reef,” said the report. “All 17 of them had given the governor contributions of $5,000 each through December 2020, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
One donor, in particular, gave Gov. DeSantis an extra $250,000 after the area got their vaccines in mid-January.
Trump DOJ Refused to Open Criminal Investigation Into Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao IG Says Was ‘Warranted’
The Trump Dept. of Justice refused an Inspector General’s request to open a criminal investigation into Transportation Secretary Elaine’s Chao’s possible misuse of her office. Chao resigned one day after the January 6 insurrection.
“A formal investigation into potential misuses of position was warranted,” Mitch Behm, the department’s deputy inspector general, said on Tuesday, The New York Times reports. The Times cites “a letter to House lawmakers, accompanying a 44-page report detailing the investigation and the findings of wrongdoing.”
The Inspector General’s report reveals the IG’s office had “referred its findings to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia on December 16, 2020, and the U.S. Department of Justice Public Integrity Section on December 17, 2020, both of which declined prosecution.”
In one instance, Chao had her staff pressure a store to do a repair job for her father. “Tell them I’m the secretary of transportation,” she said.
“The report said the Justice Department declined to investigate her promotion of her family’s shipbuilding business while serving as transportation secretary in the Trump administration,” the Times notes, suggestion there is no question Chao engaged in “promotion of her family’s shipbuilding business while serving as transportation secretary.”
The Times adds: “The inspector general’s investigation detailed a series of instances where Ms. Chao directed her staff to spend federal government time and resources to help with matters related to the shipbuilding company and her father.”
A search of the IG’s 44-page report reveals the word “father” appears 82 times.
Read the Times’ full report here.
Jim Jordan’s Campaign’s Funds Reporting Is Off by Millions and May Trigger an Investigation: Report
The campaign committee for U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is under scrutiny after apparent mismanagement of funds leading to an under-reporting of nearly $3 million over a two-year period. The problems are so severe “experts say that the dollar amount — errors totaling some $2.87 million — may trigger an FEC investigation,” according to The Daily Beast.
Over the past three days the Federal Election Commission has sent Jordan’s campaign committee ten notices “in reply to more than a dozen amended reports correcting errors that the campaign caught in a sweeping review of filings, going as far back as 2018. One of the filings discloses errors in spending and raising totalling $1,470,286.48.”
Jordan’s campaign has about a month to respond. Failure to “adequately respond” could result in enforcement action.
Campaign spokesperson Kevin Eichinger told The Daily Beast: “There was never any money missing from the account…In fact, the campaign’s cash balance is actually higher than previously listed on the campaign finance reports,” which is also not a good sign.
“The error occurred when the former campaign treasurer inadvertently double-reported certain fundraising expenses,” Eichinger adds. “When the error was discovered, the campaign hired an outside expert to conduct a comprehensive audit and file the appropriate amendments.”
Read the full report here.
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