Friday, March 25, 2011

EQCA 'Shocked' Anti-Gays
Attend Hearing; Kors Wants Money

My friend Paul Barwick today sent along this confusing fundraising letter from the soon-to-be-retired executive director of Equality California, Geoff Kors. His last day at the group is March 31. Paul said:

The gist of the forwarded message from EQCA is that 40 folks turned up to testify against this pro-gay bill, therefor we need to donate money, $15,000 to be exact. WTF? Shouldn't EQCA be asking for people to come testify in favor of the bill at the next hearing instead? Just what do they plan to do with that money?

Thank you, Paul, for asking your questions and bringing the fundraising pitch to my attention. Let's unpack some of the latest tin-cup rattling by Kors:

We’re sponsoring a bill, called the FAIR Education Act (SB 48, authored by Senator Mark Leno), that would ensure that all students learn in school about the contributions LGBT people have made to the history of California and the U.S.  ...

This week when we were at the bill’s first committee hearing, anti-LGBT activists pulled out all the stops. They organized about 40 opponents of the bill to testify. These opponents argued that we shouldn’t teach about Harvey Milk in our schools because being gay had nothing to do with his success or his assassination. They contended that homosexuality is an abnormal medical condition. And one opponent referred to a transgender member of the community as a “so-called man.” It was beyond shocking.

Too bad EQCA and Mark Leno have held not a single town hall meeting to fully educate the community about this bill, and their full legislative agenda for this year.

Kors omits a number of how many pro-gay advocates were there. Two, three, or more? Care to wager we were outnumbered by out opponents, again, thanks to Kors' community-mobilizing fears?

If he were holding public forums to engage us, there could have been dozens, maybe even a hundred of us gays at the first hearing, but no, the last thing EQCA wants to do is deal with rank and file gays and involve us in the legislative process.

Just how naive is Kors to actually say any of the standard b.s. from our opponents is shocking? This is just more proof he and EQCA have learned very little from their Prop 8 campaign debacle in 2008.

He omits a date of when the hearing happened and where it was held, for unknown reasons he's not forthcoming with basic info that might get in the way of his asking for money.

There’s another committee hearing coming up, followed by a floor vote. Opponents plan to increase their attacks to defeat this bill. It will take everything we’ve got to counter them. ... Make a donation of $48 to pass SB 48, or as much as you can afford today, to help us reach our goal of $15,000.

Ah, the real point of the note. How can Kors make money and exploit bullied kids to fill EQCA's coffers? Omitted is the date of the next hearing. See any plans to organize a big turnout from the community? Like Paul Barwick, I want to know what will happen with that $15,000.

We have to mobilize a whole host of fair-minded and intelligent people to testify in support of SB 48 at the next hearing. ...

Finally, something about mobilizing supporters, but notice the lack of specifics on how Kors will do this. Considering no mobilizing was done for the first hearing, as far as I can tell from the lack of notices on EQCA's site telling us about it, I don't expect Kors is going to do a damn thing different to mobilize for the next hearing.

We won this round, but the next and final Senate committee hearing will be within the next couple of weeks. We have to ensure that the bill makes it out of committee. We don’t have much time to organize. Please, give $48 or whatever you can afford today to help us make education fair.

What did you/we win? Let's have some specifics, if a vote was taken, and tell us how the committee members voted and who needs to be lobbied. Funny that Kors talks about little time to organize when I've nothing from EQCA that qualifies as organizing the community on this bill, other than to send a check. This was Kors' post script on the fundraising appeal:

I testified in support of SB 48, as did Carolyn Laub of the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, also a sponsor of the bill. Our calls for fairness helped us win this vote, but the next one will be tougher. Contribute now to help pass this important bill.

We finally learn there was a vote, but no tally is given, forget about the names of commitee members and how they voted. What was the vote specifically about? To move it out of commitee? Send it to the full senate? That info might get in the way of another begging sentence for money.

Two-years and five-months after EQCA leaders handed us the Prop 8 defeat, and wasted $45 million in the process, it is business as usual at this group, and that business is keep the money coming in, keep the non-donors and non-A-gays at arms-length, keep the community in the dark about important Sacramento hearings until they are over.

California's vibrantly fabulous and politically astute gay community deserves better.

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