Some Vision Before The Revision

With the signing into law of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) repeal legislation, and before the revisionists at major LGBT beltway organizations start revising history in their calls for your donations, let’s remember the vision that kept the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) on the legislative front burner.

Chris Geidner of Metro Weekly has a column up, entitled Advocacy Gets a Shot of Organized – and Organizational – Chaos;

Get Equal, HRC, GOProud, Log Cabin Republicans and more
. From the article:

Following on the heels of the National Equality March the past fall, two of the march’s leaders — Robin McGehee and Kip Williams — had worked with two of the more prominent LGBT Washington politicos – Paul Yandura and Donald Hitchcock – to start Get Equal, and Choi and Pietrangelo’s arrest on March 18 was the group’s coming out.

Less publicized even at the time and forgotten by many now, is the second Get Equal protest of that day. Several other members and supporters of Get Equal went to the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to protest inaction on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Several of those protesters also were arrested.

Although the group’s ENDA activism did not draw the attention of the White House arrests, the activism on both fronts shook up the LGBT community. With some agreeing with their tactics and others preferring the more traditional D.C. approach taken by groups like HRC, newer organizations have cropped up throughout the LGBT movement, causing many to at least think about the right approach to move forward…

Jane Hamsher was on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show The Last Word last night, and mentioned direct action and GetEqual a couple of times. Below are a couple of YouTube videos with test excerpts.

From first video:

Jane Hamsher: …There are four things we can look at as can take as lessons in this situation.

…Number two: It was the groups that would not take no for an answer. GetEqual, the 9/11 Healthcare…the first responders — who came here, who demonstrated ,who chained themselves to the White House, who followed the President around heckled him — absolutely would not take now for an answer — got their issues addressed.

From the second video:

[More below the fold]

Lawrence O’Donnell: Jane, what are the lessons for liberal activists in approaching the Obama Administration in approaching the congressional legislative calendar next year? One thing that interested me a lot is watching, for example, is watching Joe Lieberman go from voting with the Republicans on the tax votes that they took, thereby  killing any hope in the Senate of getting the Democrats wanted on taxes, and then being one of the heroes, if not the hero in the Senate in getting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repealed. And that’s a long story in the Senate, where that the guy who’s killing you today may be your best friend tomorrow on what you’re trying to do. What do you think that liberal activists will take out of this lame duck session as there lessons for the coming year?

Jane Hamsher: Well, Joe Lieberman is up for reelection in 2012, so everybody gets real fond of Democrats and their base — The people that they want to come out and vote for them when that happens. So expect to see more of Joe warming to his liberal constituents.

But I think the important thing we can look at are the people who got their issues addressed. The people who were absolutely unrelenting, who didn’t try to play an inside game. It was the outside game that won the this time.. Again, the GetEqual people were remarkable. Dan Choi, the people who chained themselves to the White House — They really put themselves there and pushed. And, they never accepted the kabuki excuses. And I think Ezra [Kline] was going there with the Dream Act.

We did see what it’s like — what fierce advocacy is like from the White House in the form of what they did on START. They called members of the Senate. They arranged for briefings. They had Joe Biden out there. The President was using the bully pulpit. And if he’s not doing that, as he wasn’t on the Dream Act or Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, then we know it’s not a priority for them. And those activists did not accept the kabuki. They said we the whole — the Full Monty — We want the whole thing and we’re not going to take anything less. And, I think that’s why we’re all sitting here celebrating today, because they were uncompromising in what they wanted.

This is what President Obama had to say about the role of direct action in DADT being repealed (emphasis added):

And finally, I want to express my gratitude to the men and women in this room who have worn the uniform of the United States Armed Services.  (Applause.)  I want to thank all the patriots who are here today, all of them who were forced to hang up their uniforms as a result of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — but who never stopped fighting for this country, and who rallied and who marched and fought for change.  I want to thank everyone here who stood with them in that fight.

Remember that should you get emails talking about the role of this LGBT organization or that telling tail about the change that this LGBT organization or that played in the repeal of DADT — asking you for donations for their next fight. It was not just the large LGBT organizations, or DADT focused LGBT organizations that put DADT repeal on the front burner, but direct action from GetEQUAL. Before the revision of what happens takes too much hold in the emails — and perhaps the mainstream press — remember it was those with some different vision that kept DADT repeal legislation on the front burner.

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Autumn Sandeen is a provisional board member of GetEQUAL.

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