Tuesday, November 10, 2009

To Give or Not To Give to the "Not-So-Bad-Guys"

The line has been drawn in the sand.

For months now, the growing discontent between the DNC/Obama Administration and the LGBT population has been boiling, and not so much under the surface. But with America Blog's announcement on Monday of the "Don't Ask, Don't Give" DNC donation boycott, the tension has erupted.

Though many have already decided not to give to the DNC, and big names demonstrated their annoyance by declining to attend the DNC LGBT fundraising dinner after the infamous DOMA brief from the DOJ comparing same-sex relationships to incest, this is the first organized action where people will sign their names and pledge not to give.

But for how long?
We are asking voters to pledge to withhold contributions to the Democratic National Committee, Organizing for America, and the Obama campaign until the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is passed, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) is repealed, and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is repealed -– all of which President Obama repeatedly promised to do if elected.
And why now?

Joe Sudbay and John Aravosis give a long list of reasons to do this now, some of which I agree with, some I don't. But a majority is undeniable fact and reading the list sure stokes the embers of anger I've been feeling for some time.

I believe the tipping point came when Obama refused to acknowledged the ballot initiatives in Maine and Washington and the controversy that erupted when the DNC sent a pre-election email out to supporters telling them to support Democratic candidates, but failed to mention the LGBT issues. Even worse, the email went to Mainers urging them to go to New Jersey to help incumbent Gov. Corzine keep his office. (He didn't.) The email did not urge Mainers to vote NO on Question 1 nor to volunteer for the campaign.

So who's behind this boycott, or a more accurate word, "pause"?

Joe and I are launching today a donor boycott of the DNC. The boycott is cosponsored by Daily Kos, Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake, Dan Savage, Michelangelo Signorile, David Mixner, Paul Sousa (Founder of Equal Rep in Boston), Pam Spaulding, Robin Tyler (ED of the Equality Campaign, Inc.), Bil Browning for the Bilerico Project, Andy Towle and Michael Goff of Towle Road, and soon others.

It’s really more of a “pause,” than a boycott. Boycotts sounds so final, and angry. Whereas this campaign is temporary, and is only meant to help some friends – President Obama and the Democratic party – who have lost their way. We are hopeful that via this campaign, our friends will keep their promises.

News of the pause has burned up the internet since the announcement yesterday and already many more are joining up.

Long-time activist David Mixner, who originally made the call for the National Equality March, said on his blog today, "How many times has the LGBT civil rights movement been told over and over and over again to wait until after the next set of elections? Do they really believe we are that dumb? That we don't realize that politics and elections change can change the political complexion of a nation overnight? We know that in the near future we will not see a time again when we will have sixty Democratic senators and a comfortable margin in the House. What makes our Democratic leaders think it will be better in 2011? Won't we be told then to wait until after President Obama is re-elected?"

"This craziness has to stop and it has to stop now," Mixner continued. "This is not about politics, it is about freedom and justice."

Emmy Ruby-Sachs wrote on the Huffington Post:
...for gay voters, the two party system is particularly offensive. Republicans are outwardly horrible on gay issues and the bulk of the gay vote will, automatically, go to Democratic candidates. There are no alternative candidates ready to take a stand for equality and thus, there are no consequences for Democrats when they fail to promote the equal rights agenda.


It's a scary thought: taking dollars away from the not-so-bad guys only helps the really bad guys on election day. But the boycott has its timing right and that might make all the difference in this fight: there is still an opportunity for the Democratic Party to take concrete strides towards eliminating the legal discrimination against LGBT Americans before the campaign dollars really matter. If they show progress, the boycott (or the "pause" in fundraising as AMERICAblog calls it) will end.

I think the freeze in fundraising is a great idea. I also think the problem with the gay rights agenda in Congress has more to do with the political system than the particularly spineless nature of most Democratic representatives.
Even more surprising, the HRC, which is usually not for rocking the boat especially when it comes to the Democrats, has given "tacit endorsement" says David Dayen at Fire Dog Lake.

Asking them what they thought of the pause, HRC responded to Dayen, "Individual donors should always make their own careful assessments of how to spend limited political contributions. We all need to focus on the legislative priorities identified by AmericaBlog and with whatever tactic individuals decide to employ, the ultimate objective needs to be securing the votes we need to move our legislative agenda forward."

So if you want to put some good ol' grassroots pressure on the Democrats, go sign the pledge "Don't Ask, Don't Give."

1 comment:

  1. I've been posting my thoughts on this today. I added ENDA to the list. This is what everyone should be writing on the contribution forms instead of including a check:
    "The check is on the desk and will be mailed when Don't Ask Don't Tell is eliminated, ENDA is passed, when DOMA is repealed and when Californians and Mainers can marry again."
    Barney Frank is talking about including the repeal of DADT in the 2011 defense spending bill. Just late enough for another promise so we will give money for 2010. Charlie Brown, Lucy for sure promises not to pull the football away this time.