LGBT Community: What Now?

by David Mixner, Live from Hell’s Kitchen

As a community we must pause and give careful consideration to our strategy given the new political reality. We should not be shy about examining any aspect of our past leadership or strategy in an attempt to understand what will be the most effective approach in our future. Clearly the paradigm has changed on election day.

What is very clear is that is the national strategy of a delaying votes on our action items for freedom over the last two years turned out to be disastrous mistake. Many of us urgently begged for our President and our national organizations not to delay action or we would face a new Congress. Well, that is exactly what happened although no one could have forecast the landslide that took place.

Legislation: The prospects of passing ENDA and repealing DOMA and DADT are slim to none. No matter what the military report says in December the Republicans in Congress are not about to allow LGBT citizens into the military. Our only hope is that the Department of Justice will drop its appeal (yeah, right) or the President issues a stop loss order. I wouldn’t hold our collective breath. Although we ‘control’ the Senate remember this is more a Senate of the Ben Nelsons and Max Baucuses then of our liberal friends. Nothing can get done without their support. Our opportunities have mostly vanished with our inaction over the last two years and we face a tough new world. If the courts continue to side with us, expect the ‘constitutional marriage amendment’ to be revived and we could be in trouble.

The Courts: If I was giving money today it would be to those pushing court cases. We seem to be doing better there than anywhere. Who knows if the shift in political climate will make judges more timid or not? The Bois/Olson Proposition 8 case takes on a new urgency. The appeal by President Obama of the Judge Virginia Phillips case could haunt us for years to come as a missed opportunity.

Politically: First and foremost, we most continue to put enormous energy into electing our own. Over 100 openly LGBT candidates were elected around the country on Tuesday. And in the Republican tidal wave, everyone of our Congress people were re-elected with an addition of one new member. There is no substitute for our own holding power.

The LGBT struggle for civil rights is not an appendage of any political party. Freedom has no Party. Our national organizations must remember that they do not work for the President or the Democratic Party. Our LGBT leaders work for and are accountable to us and no one else. We cannot allow outsiders to continue to define the strategy and then blithely follow it. Never again should we be afraid to exercise real power and play tough when we have the opportunity to advance forward. And please, no more condescending lectures about how we don’t understand how Washington works.

As we continue with the dialogue about what is next we should be respectful of all of our brothers and sisters. There is a lot to discuss. None of us has all the answers but we are doomed if we don’t carefully reflect on election day and what is next.

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