Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gay City News: Socarides Wrote
DOMA/DADT Talking Points for Clinton

(Is this man really the best gay critic, with all his political baggage, to spur President Obama to keep his promises to us?)

I am pleased to say that reporter Duncan Osborn, in the pages of Gay City News this week, has written a terrific article, looking at memos either co-authored or solely written by Richard Socarides. Duncan shares key passages from the memos, and in the process produces the kind of journalism we need more of.

Let's hope mainstream reporters and gay bloggers follow up on his reporting, and stop giving Socarides a free ride for his time spent as a close advisor to President Clinton.

From Gay City News:

When he worked in the Clinton White House, Richard Socarides authored debate preparation materials and talking points that defended the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

“The President has long opposed gay marriage based on his belief that the institution of marriage should be reserved for unions between one man and one woman,” Socarides wrote in a September 3, 1996 memo that he co-authored with George Stephanopoulos, a senior Clinton advisor. “The President strongly believes that gay and lesbian individuals should not be subject to unfair discrimination, which is why he has endorsed legislation outlawing discrimination against gays and lesbians in the workplace. But he does not believe that the federal government should promote gay marriages.”

The memo, titled “Same-Sex Marriage Talking Points” and labeled “Internal Use,” was written as the US Senate was preparing to debate and vote on DOMA, which barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages and allowed states to do the same. DOMA passed the House and Senate by overwhelming votes. Clinton signed it on September 21, 1996. [...]

Gay City News searched multiple news databases and could find no record of Socarides publicly opposing DOMA or Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell during that period. The September 3, 1996 memo went beyond opposing gay marriage and said the federal government should not recognize domestic partnerships. [...]
Here's the actual memo, which was posted to the web by Paul Schindler, editor of Gay City News:

Is this depressing, or what? A memo co-authored by Socarides, who seems to never miss an opportunity to bash President Obama over his slow moves to undo DOMA, advocated no federal recognition even for committed gay relationships.

I believe this Gay City News article is the first time it is being reported exactly what the paper trail reveals for Socarides and what he did behind the scenes on our issues, while working for Clinton.

What was the advice Socarides helped craft?

“If asked about domestic partnerships or providing federal benefits to partners in gay and lesbian partnerships,” the memo read, White House staff should say, “These decisions are best left to state and local governments and private institutions. But since the President does not believe that the federal government should recognize gay marriage, he does not believe it is appropriate for scarce federal resources to be devoted to providing spousal benefits to partners in gay and lesbian relationships.” [...]

Scarce federal resources to provide simple recognition and dignity to our partnerships? I'd love to have Socarides explain how he determined exactly which federal resources were so paltry and couldn't extend to his gay brothers and sisters.

Okay, let's look at what Duncan found out about Don't Ask, Don't Tell and a few talking points he created for Clinton:

Socarides suggested that a possible question was, “People still debate what happened with the gays in the military issue. Given a second term, would you revisit this topic? Is there a chance you might issue the executive order changing the policy again?”

Socarides’ answer was, “Few issues in recent times have spurred the kind of debate that occurred over our nation’s policy toward gays in the military. I know that this is a sensitive and emotional issue for many people. And, as you know, many of these issues are being actively litigated in the federal courts. I thinks it’s best to let those cases run there [sic] course and see what the results.”

I don't get the sense that Socarides was looking out for the community at all. What I read in his words from back then is an absolute commitment first and foremost to his boss and his hateful policies, that are causing much damage to thousands of gay people today.

And what explanation did he offer to the Manhattan-based gay newspaper, about all this new info coming to light?

Gay City News sent the document, which was downloaded from Clinton Library website, to Socarides and asked for comment. He was also contacted by phone and said he could not speak to the newspaper at that time.

We not only have Socarides unable to provide any URLs to prove his claim of publicly urging Clinton not to sign DOMA, we also have him not sharing any comments to Duncan Osborn and his newspaper.

The questions about his time at the Clinton White House, what he may have done on behalf of the gay community, and new questions raised by the memos, will not go away and I sincerely hope Socarides gets his head out of the sand and starts to deliver real accountability and answers.

SF Pride Rally: After Pelosi,

Crowd Says Pass ENDA Now

The president of SF Pride's board of director, Mikayla Connell, who is transgender, today shared with me her report on what transpired related to Rep. Nancy Pelosi and efforts to motivate the crowd to pressure the Congresswoman to do us right on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Many thanks to Mikayla and SF Pride for using the rally on Sunday to send a message to Pelosi and her Democratic Party colleagues.

Here's Mikayla's report:

My speech was not written, I just had an outline in my head. I had planned to give the speech before the Pelosi video ran, but because of a screw-up behind the scenes, the Pelosi DVD ran without any introduction. When I realized it was playing, I ran up to the stage and threw a tizzy-fit. Such is life. Anyway, I then got the emcees to introduce me after the Pelosi video aired. At that point I made my speech, which went something like this:

I noted that no political official of that rank had ever directly addressed an LGBT Pride crowd. I noted how far we had come in 40 years (from being illegal, to being addressed by the Speaker of the House).

Then I gave the crowd an ENDA history lesson, starting with its introduction in 1994. I told them about the debacle two years ago when Pelosi and Frank dropped transgender people from the bill (the crowd boo'd appropriately), I pointed out that throwing trans people in front of the bus did not even work, I told them about Pelosi's phone call in May, and then I told them about her turn-about in June. I then reiterated the reasons for trying pass ENDA now (Democratic President, House and Senate).

I called on Pelosi to fulfill her promise, then I challenged the crowd to contact Pelosi and demand that she fulfill her promise (ENDA now). Finally, I got the crowd yelling as I would say something like "When do we want ENDA?" and the crowd would roar back "NOW!"

All in all I found the crowd to be incredibly responsive. As I have given speeches many times before on our stage, I attribute this increased responsiveness to the Jumbotrons. People can see and hear a speech-maker on the stage now, and I think that helped tremendously.

Regardless, the speech was well taken by the crowd from my perspective - they cheered and applauded frequently and at the appropriate times, and they booed and catcalled at the appropriate times. After the speech, I had numerous people compliment me on the speech and on the message, including Geoff Kors of EQCA and Mason Davis of the Transgender Law Center, not to mention numerous folks I don't know. All in all, it seemed to go over very well.

As for Pelosi and her office, I don't know - I have not heard from them yet.

Human Rights Watch
Apologizes to Peter Tatchell

Big congratulations are in order today for longtime global gay human rights activist Peter Tatchell. He has managed to get Human Rights Watch to issue an apology and statement about the bad behavior of Scott Long, the org's director for gay programs. For too many years, HRW has ignored the abuses of Long and the many ways he has needlessly attacked Tatchell and other activists who don't toe his party line.

As Peter wages his ceaseless and effective advocacy, often at great risk to his own personal safety, he should not have to also contend with the nasty and defamatory attacks of HRW's gay director Long.

This deliverance of accountability for just some of the outrageous behavior of Scott Long, from his official HRW email account, is much-needed and I hope is the start of a new commitment by HRW to learn to work with other global gay advocates in a respectful manner.

Here are excerpt's from Peter's statement with the full HRW apology:

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has made a full and unreserved apology to human rights rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

The apology has been made by HRW's Executive Director, Kenneth Roth, in New York.

It says sorry for a series of untrue and personal attacks on Mr Tatchell, made by the head of HRW's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) programme, Scott Long. [...]

"I thank Kenneth Roth and HRW for their gracious and fulsome apology. Their readiness to acknowledge the wrong done and say sorry is commendable. My appreciation also to Scott Long for conceding his false allegations and apologising. It can't have been easy for him. He has shown dignity and humility. I appreciate that," said Mr Tatchell. [...]

Referring to the nature of the attacks on him by Scott Long, Peter Tatchell added:

[...] "Mr Long's falsehoods and personal attacks were many and varied. They included a highly libellous and defamatory essay written by him, which appeared in the March 2009 issue of the journal Contemporary Politics, published by Routledge, which is part of the Taylor and Francis publishing group.

"This essay made inaccurate allegations. It grossly misrepresented and denigrated my campaigns in defence of gay people persecuted by Iran and in opposition to Islamist fundamentalism. [...]

"Contrary to Mr Long's claims, I never accused the 13 year-old victim of an alleged rape in Iran of 'wanting the rape.' Nor am I guilty of 'belittling violent sexual assault, and blaming the victim.' These are outright fabrications. [...]

"Sectarian smears against human rights defenders are wrong and counter-productive. We should support each other in our shared commitment to universal human rights," concluded Mr Tatchell.

This is the full text of the Human Rights Watch statement and apology:

Human Rights Watch (HRW) apologizes to Peter Tatchell for a number of inappropriate and disparaging comments made about him in recent years by Scott Long, director of HRW's LGBT program. We recognise that personal attacks have no place in the human rights movement.

Mr Long said: "Although we have our different viewpoints, I respect Peter Tatchell's contribution to human rights and apologize for any condemnatory and intemperate allegations made in haste and for any inaccurate statements made in my personal capacity."

Mr Tatchell said: "Despite the unfortunate personal attacks on me by Mr Long, I acknowledge his otherwise important contribution to LGBT human rights and I continue to value the vital work of Human Rights Watch worldwide."

Following Mr Long's apology and subsequent discussions, Human Rights Watch is pleased to announce that both Mr Long and Mr Tatchell agree that the movement to protect human rights, including the rights of LGBT persons, is best served when activists focus their criticism on those who abuse rights rather than those who seek to defend those rights. Mr Long and Mr Tatchell undertake to work to ensure that any airing of disagreements on LGBT and other human rights issues takes place with honesty, civility and respect.

They also agree to encourage their friends and colleagues to do likewise.
HRW hopes that this apology and agreement will enable us to move forward together to pursue our common goal: the defence of universal human rights.

Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch - New York, 30 June 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lexis Search:
Socarides, DOMA & The Public Record

Veteran NYC-based gay journalist Duncan Osborn, who currently writes for Gay City News, has done gay accountability activists a huge favor, and I extend many thanks to him.

He used one tool at our collective fingertips to check the public record, for any proof of this recent claim by Richard Socarides: "I urged Clinton not to sign DOMA at the time, both publicly and privately. I did everything I could to stop it. This is all part of the public record."

Here's what Duncan found:

I went into Lexis and searched for news articles, press releases, etc. on Socarides prior to January 1, 2001. I got 126 hits though many were the same document sitting in separate databases. I found nothing to suggest that he ever challenged the Clinton administration in any serious way over any policy. The press release below is from 1997.

Bear in mind, this was a promotion and people who are a pain in the ass don't get promoted in any institution. Additionally, there is no mention of Socarides in Clinton's autobiography or The Clinton Tapes so he certainly didn't make a lasting impression on Bill Clinton.

I found [a] Washington Post article that I think accurately represents Socarides' time in the Clinton White House. He was a proponent of an incremental agenda for the gay community and his primary job was selling Clinton to us not the other way around.

When you're boasting that you got the president to say the right words in a 1999 speech and you've been working in that institution for six years, well, that's just not very impressive, but then consider who his boss was.

I should say that Socarides' behavior was no different from the other 200 or so people who got jobs in the Clinton administration except for Bob Hattoy. None of those folks, except Hattoy, made waves when Clinton signed DOMA or pulled any of his other anti-gay moves though I may have forgotten such details. There were no threats to resign and make a public stink.

This is the release that Duncan found:

February 24, 1997


The President today named Richard Socarides as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor for Public Liaison. Socarides was the liaison to the lesbian and gay communities for the White House in 1996, when he served as Special Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Political Affairs.

In his new post, Socarides will serve the gay and lesbian communities as well as additional constituencies.

From 1993 to 1996, Socarides was White House Liaison for the Department of Labor, and prior to that was Senator Tom Harkin's (D-IA) political advisor. A native of New York, Socarides was a partner in the law firm of Squadron, Ellenoff, Plesent & Sheinfeld.

He has served on the Boards of Directors of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD.) He was one of the principal organizers in 1995 of the first-ever White House Conference on HIV/AIDS.

Socarides: 'I Urged Clinton Not to Sign DOMA';

But the Public Record Shows . . .

Writer and activist Larry Kramer yesterday wanted more info from Richard Socarides, after I blogged several times in recent days about Socarides' compromised status as a critic of President Obama and supporter of NYC's Mayor Bloomberg. Through emails exchanges, Larry, Socarides, longtime NYC gay activists Andy Humm and Allen Roskoff, and myself, engaged in constructive dialog about many issues.

Before we get to the best of the emails, I wish to make a few points. Socarides claims he publicly and privately opposed Clinton signing DOMA, and that the public record back up this claim. I emailed Socarides, requesting any URLs to proof that he indeed did what he said back in the 1990s. So far, Socarides has failed to provide us with a single URL to any document or news account verifing his claim.

After days of asking many San Franciscans and others, if they can recall him opposing the DOMA signing, no one has stepped forward to back him up. And the only info I can find through Googling about Socarides' comments after the bill was signed, are stories in which neither Socarides nor anyone else mentions his supposed public challenge to his boss over DOMA.

Here are the emails:

From Kramer: i don't know why you are all ganging up on richard. all he said on this tv appearance, in addition to criticizing obama as i have certainly done as well, is that bloomberg is for gay marriage. i thought both his wsj article and his appearance on msnbc were excellent. we all have the bad habit of tarring everyone forever for old opinions or old actions we might have taken or not taken that we didn't like. i don't think clinton did as much as richard said he did. in fact, i know he didn't, and clinton himself has admitted it. but richard has really been out there lately, certainly with the getequality bunch who are doing really good work, but to bring all this past stuff up of what he did and didn't do in the past, now when he, that is richard, has done some excellent work, strikes me as rather unkind. we do all grow, you know. petrelis particularly has a memory that is insatiably unforgiving.

From Roskoff: While Richard was in the White House he supported Clinton and did not raise a stink about Clinton signing DOMA and DADT. Clinton not only didn't do enough but was the one who signed the legislation Socardies is blasting Obama about. Socarides kept his White House job and pay check while the LGBT nation was fucked by his boss. While we all went ballistic he supported Clinton and went all over the nation defending him.

From Kramer:
i am overwhelmed with the strength of these arguments from my friends whom i respect. i had no knowledge that the veins run so deep. my only interactions with you have been concerning my urging you to write about your father. i do think that i would like to hear from you in your own defense against all these charges, if they are in fact inaccurate.

From Socarides:
I urged Clinton not to sign DOMA at the time, both publicly and privately. I did everything I could to stop it. This is all part of the public record. I was not part of the WH policy group during DADT implementation but fought against it too, after I arrived. I have talked about all of this publicly, both then and now, including saying that Clinton was wrong, very wrong, even saying this when I worked for him.

From Kramer: you are ducking what i am troubled about-- that you are so supportive of bloomberg who has not been supportive of us.

From Humm: Bloomberg single-handedly prevented marriage being legal for same-sex couples in New York City by appealing the only court order ever issued to start issuing licenses in New York. Had he not appealed that decision, gay couples from all over the world would STILL be able to marry in New York City. THIS DOES NOT SOUND LIKE A MAN WHO SUPPORTS OUR RIGHT TO MARRY.

From Socarides: That he appealed was a bad mistake. But what Andy says here is just ridiculous and not true. We don't know what would have happened. [Bloomberg] supports our right marry. That's all I said on tv.

From Kramer: richard, i am troubled to read this. i respect andy a lot: Andy humm: "I have been sickened by the ink and air time accorded Socarides as a critic of Obama on LGBT issues given his role as apologist for Bill Clinton when he instituted the policies he wants Obama to repeal."

From Socarides: Yes me too and I like him also. I guess when you criticize important interests you offend some people. He has not expressed this to me.

From Humm: Richard--I have discussed with you how bad Bloomberg is on LGBT rights and AIDS issues and you continue to support him. To say he is "for" same-sex marriage belies virtually all of his conduct on the issue. He "came out" for same-sex marriage on the very day he appealed the decision ordering him to issue licenses to same-sex couples. Let's apply ONE standard to all these elected officials and work together to get them to do the right things.

And the final word goes to Humm: We all want Obama to do more and faster. But when Richard Socarides presumes to take the lead on this issue as a spokesperson for the community, he needs to be upfront about not just that he worked for Bill Clinton, but why he went to work for Clinton AFTER he screwed us on gays in the military and why he continued with Clinton after he signed the Defense of Marriage Act. And he needs to explain how he can support the anti-gay Mayor of New York while attacking the president.

In attacking Obama, Richard should come forward with why Obama is worse than Clinton who he aligned himself with and was on the payroll of. I don't think he can do that and is thus compromised.

Instead of applying his Obama standard to his friend Mike Bloomberg, Richard campaigned for Bloomberg and marched with him and continues to support him despite the fact that New York City is a MUCH easier place to be completely pro-gay than the country at large. He really needs to start applying his same standard to Bloomberg or frankly step back from the role of gay crusader against Obama.

I have never heard him criticize Bloomberg, no less get Bloomberg to reverse himself on the many issues where he has opposed the gay and AIDS communities.

Monday, June 28, 2010

SF Chron Pans Prop 8
Documentary as Propaganda

The senior film critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle, is a throwback to the almost by-gone era of dailies employing serious reviewers to cover film, and he brings welcomed intelligence to his reviews.

On Friday, he panned a new documentary about the loss of gay marriage in California almost two years ago. Based on his review, the film sounds like it could have been produced by the gay leaders of Equality California/National Center for Lesbian Rights/Human Rights Campaign/Freedom to Marry/ No on 8, in that the problems of our side are omitted from the new movie.

"The Sorrow and the Pity," it ain't. LaSalle writes:

"8: The Mormon Proposition" contains some interesting information about the Mormon church's involvement in the campaign to pass Proposition 8 [...] But it's marred by loaded language and a propagandistic tone that undercuts rather than promotes its purposes.

Using words like "plot" and "conspiracy," the documentary uncovers internal memos that reveal how the Mormon church coordinated its efforts to influence the election in California. But instead of reading them as sinister, the documentary could study them to see how a committed, intelligent minority gets organized in a democracy.

A fatal flaw, or at least a crucial omission, of "The Mormon Proposition" is that no attention is given to the weakness of the anti-Prop. 8 campaign.

The pro-8 forces had infinite resources and volunteers. The anti-8 forces had George Takei (Mr. Sulu from the original "Star Trek") making a speech and a lot of distressed people holding handmade signs. [...]

Speaking of a committed, smart minority getting its act together to fight for equality in a democracy, anyone know when the same damn gay leaders who lost Prop 8, and are in charge of the 2012 repeal ballot prop in CA, will get around to a few town hall meetings and offering proof they are going to do the next battle differently and better than the last time?

Dustin Lance Black, Oscar winner for his "Milk" screenplay, narrates the documentary and is a former Mormon, and openly gay. Earlier this year he gave an interview to Randy Shulman of DC's Metro Weekly and had this to say regarding accountability efforts targeting Prop 8 leaders and Gay Inc orgs:

I want to support them. I want these other organizations to do well. I want HRC to succeed. I want Joe Solmonese to be the best leader we've got. I want Equality California to change and grow and do well. So I don't think it's wise to be attacking each other in any situation. We might get into some fights behind closed doors, but that's healthy. That's the way it should be.

Spoken like a true A-gay. Keep the rot that infects our movement behind closed doors, where the sunshine can't serve as a much-needed disinfectant. No, Dustin, we don't need a Kumbaya approach to the seriously inept gay leadership that is failing to produce passage of ENDA, repeal of DOMA and DADT, and wins at the ballot box.

Makes absolute sense to me that Black's attitude of not publicly criticizing Gay Inc executives carries over into the new movie. Reading his comment, I don't get the sense he'd lend his talents to a flick honestly assessing what went wrong from our side with Prop 8.

Our movement would be better served with documentaries that take cold, hard looks at our leadership lost gay marriage here, and by demanding transparency over our orgs and their decision-making processes.

And let us give thanks the politically-correct crew over at GLAAD hasn't cowed critics like LaSalle into serving as cheerleaders for weak documentaries.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Socarides on MSNBC

Kicks Obama, Kisses Bloomberg

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I find longtime gay Democratic Party hack Richard Socarides to be slimy and not always looking out for the best interests of the gay community. He's a media darling and making the most out of his recent Wall Street Journal column attacking Barack Obama on gay issues.

Socarides appreared on MSNBC today, and had little praise for Obama. Here are excerpted quotes of his, from the closed-captioning transcript:

>> you know, he's done a lot, more than any other president so far, but, of course, he doesn't have a lot of competition except for perhaps bill clinton , that category. and he's made some significant announcements and made an effort around don't ask, don't tell. we think he could have asked the don't ask, don't tell discharges right away, and the military has been allowed to stall on this, even though 80% of americans support open service by gays and lesbians in the military.

>> i will say that i served in the white house on president clinton 's staff. and i appreciate it can be a busy [place], hard to get stuff done. but i don't buy into the notion that you can only do so many things. the man is the president. he can put somebody in charge of it and have them run with it, number one. and number two, i think this glass half empty , half full equation is not really smart. i mean, you're either fully equal or you're not. when it comes to basic fundamental issues that are so important to us in america, like full equality, you are either equal or you're not. i think he could push much harder on a lot of issues.

>> before he runs for re-election, he has to come out for marriage equality . ted olson is prosecuting the case in california. and i think the president has to be on the right side of history on that. elected officials everywhere are moving, and he needs to be with us on that.

>> [at today's gay pride parade i] will march with mayor bloomberg , with senator gillibrand and senator schumer, all of whom support marriage equality in new york state.

And if Obama doesn't come out for gay marriage as Socarides wants, what will he do? What is his plan between now and November 2012 to move the president? I mean, other than pulling the strings of GetEQUAL puppets and using Rupert Murdoch's WSJ to kvetch.

Here's the video:

NYC-based gay activist and pundit Andy Humm joins with me in criticizing Socarides:

I have been sickened by the ink and air time accorded Socarides as a critic of Obama on LGBT issues given his role as apologist for Bill Clinton when he instituted the policies he wants Obama to repeal. And you are covering that well.

But Socarides is also an ARDENT supporter of Mike Bloomberg whose record on LGBT rights is abysmal. Bloomberg single-handedly prevented marriage being legal for same-sex couples in New York City by appealing the only court order ever issued to start issuing licenses in New York. Had he not appealed that decision, gay couples from all over the world would STILL be able to marry in New York City.

Bloomberg vetoed legislation to institute a comprehensive LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying program in the schools and to compel city contractors to provide domestic partner benefits as San Francisco does. Bloomberg is the largest individual donor to the anti-gay Republican Party in world history and the biggest donor to anti-gay NYS Senate Republicans who vote as a block against same-sex marriage and are stopping the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act in Albany.

The list goes on and on. Richard Socarides campaigned for Bloomberg and marched with him today despite Bloomberg's miserable record on LGBT rights. We all want Obama to do more and sooner, but who is Richard Socarides to criticize him?

Here's some background on Bloomberg working against gay equality, and it comes from longtime gay writer and activist Allen Roskoff, in a column for

In 2005, facing a Republican primary, Bloomberg appealed a court order from Justice Doris Ling Cohan ordering NYC to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Had Bloomberg not appealed and all other appeals around the state been dropped, gay and lesbian couples would be able to legally marry in New York City today. Prior to appealing the order, Bloomberg would not even say whether or not he supported the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Michael Bloomberg claims his Corporation Counsel told him he had to submit the appeal, but my reliable sources in that office say they told him directly that he did not have to appeal and probably should not appeal. [...]

Socarides calls Michael Bloomberg’s support for marriage equality “outstanding, and without his help we would not have progressed as far as we have in New York City.” This is pure spin and a laughably deliberate lie. [...]

I don't trust Socarides, one bit, and will do my part to hold him accountable for his time serving as gay liaison to Bill Clinton, criticizing Obama and for getting in bed with Bloomberg.

SF Plans for Prop 8 Trial
Day of Ruling Action

An open planning meeting was held last Thursday, June 24, starting at 10:30 am, to make preparations for what actions to take on the day Judge Vaughn Walker, and I was there. On the plus side, it was good to see such an opening session taking place, but on the negative side of things, it was another morning meeting attended by a large number of people from Gay Inc, staffers from City Hall offices and Gay Clergy Inc, with a smattering of unaffiliated ordinary activists.

The week prior, I attended another morning event put on by Matt Foreman at City Hall, to discuss his new polling on gay marriage ballot props, and there was evening meeting scheduled to engage the larger community. I'm not saying there shouldn't be any meetings or press conferences in the daytime, but when those are the _only_ times such events are happening, many working gays cannot make it and add their voices to the discussion.

The Thursday meeting had elements of re-inventing the wheel of community organizing, and I hope if there is follow up session before a ruling is made to further startegize, that the session is held after work. San Francisco has got to figure out how to start holding monthly forums with Gay Inc orgs and leaders, and ordinary gays, where organizing for things like the Day of Ruling action can take place, along with frank discussions about the state of the movement.

Kudos to Molly McKay for good facilitation and for sharing her report, from which I've excerpted the following:
Attendees: (may be incomplete – if so – send addition to and sorry for the oversight in advance – Kelly has the sign in roster) Kelly Hart, Molly McKay, John Bare, Kate Kendell, Seth Fowler, Jack (from Colage), Roberto Ordena, Mike McLeod, Rev Roland Stringfellow, Rev Jay Johnson, Rev Dawn, Rev Lea Brown, Aiden, Alex Randolph, Sergeant Chuck, Pam Brown, Stuart Gaffney, Ed Ness, Todd Farrell, Rev Karen Oliveto, Andrea Shorter, Lauren, Margee Churchon, Chad Griffin, Adam Umhoeffer, Sister Barbi, Sister , Eric Ross,; Lisa F, Sister Viva, Alex Randolph; Bentrish Satarzadeh; Andrea Shorter; Lauren Margaret Sage; Angelo Campisi, Joseph Peralta; Robert, Charles Limbert, Pam Brown, Stuart Gaffney; Michael Petrelis, Chelsey Haley, Scott Gaines, Masen. [...]

Talking Points if We Win or Lose – Group Brainstorm

The feeling/frame/theme that we hope the community and larger public will take away from the community gathering:

Avoiding the sense that this is a Zero/Sum game with winners and losers (like a soccer match) Reaching for the transformation of consciousness, integration, inclusion.

Taking this win (if we win) as graceful winners and using this initial win to reach out a hand of fellowship to people who are not quite with us yet:

Fairness has prevailed (NOT “We Won, ha ha!”) [...]

Reflect Common Values and Traditions: Love, Fairness, Dignity, Unity, Commonality, visible supportive clergy especially clergy of color, showing diversity of support from wide variety of denominations, supportive/ally communities, include the Broader civil justice frame – contextualizing this case in the broader movement for equality on all fronts, for all people, in this country and around the world.

(The tension between wanting to work for peace and the fight to lift the ban on gay soldiers was raised. The tension between wanting visible leaders of faith participating and making room and voice for atheists who want to be free from religion and the value of separating church and state and focusing on civil marriage.)

Engaging Pelosi’s office to continue her leadership and secure a vote on ENDA now, the need to honor our transgender community and voice in the marriage equality issue, address the larger issue of queer justice issues, the need to honor the voices of HIV/AIDS community, ensuring we invite our straight allies to help us – invite them to participate in leadership – this is a justice issue for all people – need to reflect that truth by our message and messengers and leadership. [...]


Everyone agreed there will be anger and pain if Prop 8 is upheld and we want everyone to stay safe and yet have the opportunity to vent and channel their feelings and find out what they can do next.

The feeling that people would want to come out of a gathering if we lose, is compassion, sympathy/empathy, support, connection, resolve to help, resolve to persevere and remind people that there will be ups and downs but we know the road will end in our full equality – so keep on going – get ready for the appeal and keep telling your stories and reaching out.

The commitment to peace and non-violence was discussed as a value and goal.

There was a counterpoint raised that Stonewall – the start of the gay rights movement – was not non-violent and people had a right to be angry and take action.

The idea of civil disobedience including sit-ins, actions taken over several days, not just the day of the ruling was discussed. [...]


ROUTE and TIMING on day of Ruling. Start gathering at Castro that evening from 5-6pm (convenient to public transport and where people should be encouraged to return to for dinner – support the community)

With our children and youth leading the march - Go from Castro stop at SF LGBT Center – remarks in support of Center.

From SF LGBT Center continue on to SF City Hall (Federal Building flagpole does not have enough room to accommodate a crowd larger than about 500 people). This is where the bulk of the speakers will be heard and the place to send people directly if they can’t march from the Castro).

Speakers will start at around 6:45pm. Everyone agreed best to keep the list short – to recognize people don’t want to stand there all night. There would will be a need for porta potties and strong sound system and security (referred to logistic team to flesh out).

If we LOSE and/or if the crowd is still fired up to march – possibly march to either Federal building where decision rendered or directly to the 9th Circuit courthouse on 7th and Mission (across street from Federal Bldg too), possibly to Union Square, Ferry Building etc and then on back to the Castro.


[...] Kelly is going to send the roster of contact information from the sign up at the meeting – send him any additions so we can keep that up dated and include all (including those on the phone) to Molly will send an invite out to the former No on Prop 8 SF yahoogroup to ensure we have everyone who wants to be included in the loop – and feel free to continue to expand our coalition and network so we can all be connected as we move forward. [...]
HIV Drug Resistance Peaked in '05;
New Study Belies UCLA Model

(Sally Blower)

Back in February, the latest in a long line of hysterical HIV math models created by UCLA/David Geffen School of Medicine professor Sally Blower, caused a lot of controversy over her allegations of dangerous resistant HIV strains emerging here. Blower and colleagues theorized that such strains were being transmitted from HIV poz persons, and that the strains were of international concern. The researchers concluded:

If the resistant strains we have identified in our analyses evolve in these [African] countries, they could significantly compromise HIV treatment programs. Consequently, currently circulating NNRTI-resistant strains in San Francisco pose a great and immediate threat to global public health.

This finding was a continuation of Blower's decade-long Chicken Little science, alleging that transmitted resistant strains, versus resistance acquired through long-term use of AIDS cocktails, was being ignored by people with AIDS, our doctors and nurses, and public health officials.

Many activists, AIDS orgs, health writers and the SF Department of Public Health soundly rejected Blower's alarmist theories, because hard and independent data was missing to back up her hysteria.

A new study from researchers affiliated with GlaxoSmithKline recently came out, with data further undermining Blower's allegations. From the National AIDS Treatment Advocacy Project article on the study, emphasis mine:

Prevalence of major mutations conferring resistance to the first three antiretroviral classes appeared to peak in 2005 and to fall through 2009 among people enrolling in clinical trials across the United States [1]. Double- and triple-class resistance and nonnucleoside mutations also appeared to be waning sharply in untreated people.

Lisa Ross and GlaxoSmithKline colleagues used both the 2009 IAS-USA list of mutations and the World Health Organization (WHO) surveillance list to categorize major mutations conferring resistance to nucleosides (NRTIs), nonnucleosides (NNRTIs), and protease inhibitors (PIs) in 3829 antiretroviral-naive people enrolling in GSK clinical trials in 36 states and Washington, DC. [...]

Almost 4,000 patients is a heck of a lot of people, and they came from a high number of states, and the findings reveal that in the population of patients entering clinical trials, the resistance rate was not out of control or even rising.

Should Blower and her colleagues ever deign to leave their isolated ivory towers and agree to hold public forums in San Francisco about their research, and the many valid questions about their alarming conclusions not borne out by other researchers and front-line health care professionals, we might finally learn what motivates them and their faulty HIV math models.

Public health and smart HIV control and treatment policies are ill-served by Blower's research at UCLA's Geffen School of Medicine.

Friday, June 25, 2010

BAR ('96): Socarides Works to Dampen
Gay Anger Over Clinton's DOMA

(Richard Socarides making a TV appearance to bash President Obama.)

President Clinton's former point-man to the gay community, Richard Socarides, seems to never miss a chance to criticize President Obama's less-than-fierce advocacy on issues of importance to us, and his opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal contained many valid complaints against the current administration.

However, Socarides' current bash-Obama crusade is markedly different than his strong work during the Clinton administration and for the Clinton/Gore team's reelection, when he traveled to key cities with large gay populations, to dampen the justifiable anger boiling in the community over the Defense of Marriage Act becoming law, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act failure.

What sort of reception did he receive in San Francisco? A Bay Area Reporter editorial by the late Mike Salinas, summed up his visit to the paper:
This office was only one of the places where Socarides spent numerous hours around the Bay Area, trying to persuade people to buy more Bill Clinton, although he couldn't come up with very compelling reasons to do so.

His arguments were mostly that Dole, Perot, and Nader were worse than his boss, but that hardly makes the choice appealing. We are well aware that the decision facing gay and lesbian voters this November is, metaphorically speaking, the choice between eating shit and eating poison ­ but it was almost heartbreaking to discover the job of the liaison is only to hold the shitty ladle to our lips.

Throughout the meeting, Socarides was eager to get a BAR tee-shirt, but less inclined to talk about gays being rejected for military uniforms; eager to talk about how Clinton held the line for NAFTA, but not so much about the failed ENDA, which naturally is of much greater impact to our community; and mostly just anxious (in every sense of the word) to learn whether the Clinton White House could count on us after so many broken promises to keep the moving van away from the front door.
That editorial, entitled "Fair and foul," ran on October 3, 1996, and is not online. It was keyed in for me by BAR editor Cynthia Laird. (Thanks!)

But if you want to read something online about that disastrous tour for Socarides, check out this excerpt from the SF Weekly's report:
Bill Clinton's lesbian and gay liaison, Richard Socarides, quietly made the rounds in S.F. last week, unsuccessfully trying to tamp down gay anger over his boss' signing of the Defense of Marriage Act, and generally taking the community's temperature.

Or, as Supervisor Leal told her fellow queer supe Tom Ammiano, who couldn't make the meeting with Socarides Sept. 26, "He sure kissed a lot of ass." The meetings -- with gay journalists and elected officials -- were coordinated direct from Clinton/Gore campaign headquarters. So, harbor no doubt about their import.

Bob Ross, publisher of the Bay Area Reporter, said he raked Socarides over the coals for 45 minutes. "He didn't really have any answers for us," Ross says.

If you're still hungry for additional info about Socarides' fierce advocacy - for Clinton back in 1996 - read some of what the Advocate had to say:

Activists also complained that Socarides turned down a chance to link America Online's gay and lesbian area directly to the White House. [...]

And Socarides said he views the trip as a complete success. "The reception I received was extremely warm," he said. "I accomplished what I set out to do."

Liar, liar, pants on fire! He was the only person who thought those things about his visit here. Where did his loyalties lie? Not with the wider gay community; but with the Clintonistas.

And now many gay bloggers and corporate media outlets, without having secured any extended and clear explanation from Socarides about his role in the hostile homo-fearing policies and non-advancement of gay agenda items under Bill Clinton, put him on a pedestal as an independent critic of Barack Obama.

We gays are owed an honestly accounting of what exactly Socarides did from 1993 to 1999, to stop his boss from giving America DOMA and Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Wisconsin AIDS Network
Removes Name From Agency Door

(The main entrance to the HIV services org that dare not speak its name on its door: the AIDS Network of Madison, WI.)

From the Midwest, Greg Milward has operated a blog to hold his local AIDS org accountable on a number of important issues. Called, he's done an excellent job of asking tough questions about the (mis)management of the AIDS Network.

Greg alerted me to a disturbing development that echoes the awful, dark, terrible early years of the AIDS crisis, when even saying the name of the disease was risky in certain situations, such as trying to rent an apartment or commercial space.

The head of the AIDS Network has removed the agency's name from their door where they provide services. This sort of b.s. reinforces the stigma people with AIDS still face in many part of America, and should outrage every AIDS activist. I'm blogging about Greg's effort to restore the agency's name back on their door, in the spirit of activist solidarity. The more attention this name removal receives, the more it may help persuade the org to do the right thing.

From Greg's blog:

Karen Dotson is sending the message that the community she is supposed to be serving does not want to talk about AIDS. [...]

What message is Karen sending to Madison by her stupid decision to take the agency’s name off the door and replace it with “Suite H?”

* People with HIV infection are ashamed of their status; [...]

* She doesn’t give a damn about those who have walked through those doors, held their head high and weren’t cowering because of shame heaped on them by a failed Executive Director. In essence, she’s saying “We thought you would want to feel some new shame and stigma so we renamed the public’s view of the agency to “Suite H”; [...]

Through her actions Karen is telling donors, ACT Riders, Bingo go’ers, etc., that it’s OK to talk about AIDS Network when they are fabricating the fundraising song and dance. After all “Together we are all living with AIDS”, touts their PR spin machine. [...]

In reality, the only thing to be ashamed of is that Karen Dotson continues to serve as Executive Director of AIDS Network. She’s done ample damage and hopefully her departure from AIDS Network is imminent.

Keep up the excellent accountability activism, Greg. We need more if it everywhere.

Hillary Donor/GetEQUAL Angel Socarides

Bashes Barack in WSJ

(From the left: Richard Socarides, Scott Sanders, Peter Wilson, and Brian Ellner. Photo by Clint Spaulding.)

When President Bill Clinton was signing his name to paper creating Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Richard Socarides, his liaison for gay political affairs kept right on collecting his White House paycheck.

While Socarides was supposedly working for gay folks, his real job was to make his boss look good, and that's what he did so well, as a perfect team player. Does anyone have proof he raised public objections when Clinton gave gay Americans DADT and DOMA? When Socarides worked in the White House, I don't recall him raising his voice against these terrible policies.

With Barack Obama in the White House, Socarides is leveraging his Rolodex to bash Obama's record on gay matters. I don't have a problem with that. But why is Socarides' record of complicity with anti-gay policies ignored?

I object to the failure of bloggers and mainstream media folks to address and frequently remind people of Socarides' go-along attitude on gay issues when he was the gay Monica Lewinksy, metaphorically and politically speaking, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

There's also the matter of his donations totaling $1,500 to Hillary Clinton for her senatorial campaigns, which are not disclosed by Socarides or the editors of the Wall Street Journal in his column today criticizing Obama's failures on his gay promises.
Socarides is a Clinton loyalist; his criticisms of Obama look to some like sour grapes - if the media and gay bloggers bothered to explain Socarides' own record and connections.

Socarides chides Obama over DADT and DOMA, among other issues, and this is his bio and disclosure info, from the WJS, a Rupert Murdoch-owned publication:

Mr. Socarides, a New York lawyer, served as White House special assistant and senior advisor on gay rights issues to President Clinton.

In his column, this gay Clintonista, has nothing but admiration for Gay Inc's charade of a grassroots activist org and its recent zaps:

Earlier this year, the president's staff indicated privately that they would prefer to wait until after the midterm elections to move forward [on DADT]. Only after it became clear that Congress was going to act without him—and after he was heckled twice at fund raisers by the activist group GetEQUAL—did Mr. Obama step in, and then with a Pentagon-inspired "compromise." [...]

If you didn't know any better, you'd think Socarides' opinion of GetEQUAL is an independent and unbiased one. Wrong. Earlier this year, he played an integral role in the formation, and finding the funding for, GetEQUAL. Here's the headline and an excerpt from the Queerty story about his cozy relations with the hecklers:

What Did Richard Socarides' 'Secret' Gay Activist Meeting in Knoxville Accomplish?

When Queerty was the first to break news of a secret activist meeting taking place outside Knoxville, we were short on details. We knew a few attendees, that it was a coming-together of power players, and that it was supposedly "all expenses paid" for guests. But who was running the thing? And what was the goal?

Richard Socarides (Bill Clinton's former LGBT advisor [...]) and Paul Yandura (a Dallas Principles organizer and leading critic of the gay-cash-loving DNC, [...]) have been identified as two organizers. [...]

Want a second source? Here's a snippet from gay journo Rex Wockner on the meeting that established in GetEQUAL:

According to veteran activist Larry Kramer, the gathering was "bankrolled" by Jonathan Lewis, the son of one of the founders of Progressive Auto Insurance. Richard Socarides, who was President Bill Clinton's adviser on gay issues, was "involved with helping him set it up," Kramer said.

But Socarides and the WSJ didn't reveal his conflict of interest with GetEQUAL, which we can see has been reported on by gay journos. Just because he's donated to Hillary and greatly helped birth an org he singles out for praise, doesn't diminish most of his valid criticism against Obama.

Still, I'd like for him to one day explain why he never spoke out, or resigned his White House position, when Bill Clinton helped create the DOMA/DADT policies. Would also do my sunshine heart good to have his friends at Murdoch's WJS fully disclose the Hillary and GetEQUAL links.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Atlantic: EQCA, HRC Leaders of

CA 2012 Gay Marriage Prop

The campaign for California's 2012 ballot initiative to repeal Prop 8 began in November 2008. Yes, almost two years ago is when the 2012 got underway, but writer Chris Good over at the Atlantic thinks the campaign is down the road, but that is the least of what worries me about his recent column. Give these excerpts a read:

No ballot initiative has qualified for 2010, as some activists pressing that plan have backed off. But it appears there is no stopping a ballot initiative in 2012, no matter how close the trial is to being completed.
[...] Marc Solomon, marriage director for Equality California, one of the state's most prominent membership groups for gay rights, wrote over e-mail. "So we are working extremely hard right now to change hearts and minds in the direction of fairness and equality to gain solid majority support for the freedom to marry in preparation for a 2012 ballot campaign."
Solomon's group has been in heavy contact with volunteers and canvassers in the last year, gearing up for the big fight in 2011 and 2012 that will focus on door-knocking, making inroads with communities and constituency groups, and probably a significant ad campaign, coordinated with the gamut of California gay-rights groups and executed with the advice (and money) of larger national groups like the Human Rights Campaign. By the time that campaign needs to start, the [Prop 8] trial probably won't be close to completion. [...]

Okay, technically speaking, that campaign hasn't started, but the battle to educate voters about gay lives and our community is a permanent one, being waged right now, and last Tuesday's Gay Inc presser at San Francisco's City Hall demonstrated how gay leaders are committed to making the same mistakes heading into 2012.

As we saw, with horror, in 2008 with the No on 8 effort, gay leaders had no public forums scheduled in addition to the presser, to respectfully engage the community about the polling and discuss with us directly how it fit into the larger puzzle of the 2012 race. And just like in 2008, we quickly saw the SF Chronicle, the LA Weekly, the SF Weekly, Queerty, and myself, questioning the Gay Inc party line and not getting satisfactory answers.

Now, if Chris Good is to be believed, it's already been decided that EQCA and HRC are going to again serve as the lead organizations, with many of the same executives and staffers running the gay operation.

Any CA gay ballot prop is going to need the involvement of EQCA and HRC, not to mention their money, but I have seen no evidence showing the leaders of the orgs have not only learned important lessons about they did wrong last time, and changing their M.O. The presser last week is ample proof the 2008 playbook still being used by Gay Inc, in the middle of the 2012 campaign.

How many activists are ready to march behind Geoff Kors and Joe Solmonese?

We are 29 months away from November 2012 and EQCA/HRC/Gay Inc, along with Chris Good, are in deep denial that the gay marriage prop campaign for that election is happening right now. This denial should frighten the gay community, if it is serious about winning.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pride Saturday Town Hall
in SF with Rep Speier

(Jackie Speier gets goofy in the hall of Congress with Stephen Colbert.)

As the calls grow for open forums of all sorts with more Gay Inc and elected leaders getting themselves before the gay public in San Francisco, Matthew Bajko over at the Bay Area Reporter that an area Member of Congress, herself and not just a top staffer, will hold a public forum over Pride weekend. My sunshine hearts beams because we now have two public forums with a Congresswoman, and one was solely focused on gay issues, to use as examples of public discourse.

If a national politician can organize two town halls and meet directly with the voters, why can't Dan Bernal, the district manager for Nancy Pelosi, host a town or two or twenty? I'd love for A-gays to give Dan the push he needs to get himself out before a few forums in the community and start some explaining on another ENDA betrayal.

We all know Dan's boss has broken this year's ENDA promise of a vote and potential passage, and that is exactly why we need Pelosi's top San Francisco representative to explain the next steps, to be taken over July and August, on our issues. What is on Pelosi's gay agenda for the summer? How will her office engage our community? Only when Dan gives up some of his weekly gym classes, will we find out.

From the BAR:

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) will be meeting with her San Francisco-based constituents during the city’s upcoming Pride weekend.

Speier has invited residents of her 12th Congressional District, which covers the southern portion of San Francisco, and the press to discuss financial reform, the Gulf Coast oil spill, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, jobs, the economy and health care.

The public event will take place from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, June 26 at Temple United Methodist Church, 65 Beverly Street in San Francisco’s Merced Heights neighborhood near San Francisco State University. [...]

Many thanks to Bajko for reminding readers of our Rep's abysmal record on openness with us:

Speier’s public meeting comes as the city’s other House member, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has faced calls from some local LGBT activists to hold her own meetings with the city’s LGBT community. Gay blogger Michael Petrelis and Patrick Connors, a gay columnist for the SF Weekly, have both criticized Pelosi for her lack of engagement with her LGBT constituents.

It is unclear when, if ever, Pelosi has held an open public forum with LGBT residents in San Francisco. [...]

In addition to holding brief conference calls with Gay Inc leaders who beat each other up for the chance to tongue-wash her rear, photo-ops with Prop 8 loser Geoff Kors, what has she done that might qualify as engagement with queers on important issues?:

Last fall, [Pelosi aide Drew] Hammill said that Pelosi held a candidate fundraiser at Tangerine, a popular Castro brunch spot on 16th Street.

You sure as hell don't need a clairvoyant to determine who arranged that bit of nothingness. And what the hell are we gonna do about Geoff Kors running the 2012 gay prop show?

Pelosi Aide: No Gay Forums;

But Gym Classes Galore

(Dan Bernal. Photo credit: Bill Wilson.)

In August 2009, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier, part of whose district includes San Francisco, held a town hall meeting at the gay community center to discuss issues of mutual importance. The Bay Area Reporter's Matthew Bajko was there and his story about the open forum mentioned disturbing facts about Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi's track record on town halls with gays in her district:

It has been more than a decade, if not longer, since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has taken the time to meet with local LGBT constituents in a setting open to the press and the public. [...]

Apart from private meetings with local LGBT leaders, and carefully stage-managed events where the local press is given limited access to her, Pelosi has not held an open town hall with her LGBT constituents in some time.

Her spokesman in D.C. dodged the B.A.R. 's questions on when, if ever, Pelosi had held an event similar to Speier's town hall this week.

In a terse e-mail reply, Drew Hammill wrote that, "The speaker regularly sits down with community leaders for an in-depth and candid discussion about LGBT priorities in Congress."

If Hammill speaks the truth, I'd like to know where and when those sit-downs with Pelosi happened.

While I understand Pelosi has many duties and demands on her time, and she can't be expected to hold regular public meetings with gay constituents, I don't understand why her top staffer in San Francisco has failed to hold a single town hall meeting.

Dan Bernal, who is openly gay and also open about living with AIDS, is Pelosi's longtime district manager, and no gay reporter or activist I have spoken with can recall him organizing any public forums with local gay and PWAs. I would think, given the deep concerns among gays here about the continuing failure of Congress to pass ENDA, repeal DADT and a host of other gay and HIV issues, that Dan Bernal would exert time and effort to publicly engage the community, and regularly too.

I was tipped off yesterday to a very interesting bit of news related to Dan Bernal and how he spends his Thursday evenings. Every Thursday night, he is at Gold's Gym in SoMa leading a spinning class, from 7 to 9 pm. He'll be there tomorrow, spinning for gym patrons, and the following week, the week after that, and as far as I can tell from the gym calendar, every week this year.

If Dan Bernal has so much free time in the evenings that he can make a solid commitment to _weekly_ public gym classes, why can't he also find the time to finally start organizing and holding regular _monthly_ meetings with the local gay and AIDS communities? I'd like to know what his reasons are for never publicly engaging the wide spectrum of local gay and PWA constituents, at town hall meetings.

As important, it's time to start demanding that our Gay Inc leaders, who are pretty lousy themselves in the public forums' department, put some pressure on Dan Bernal to do less weekly spinning, and devote some time to speak and listen to the San Francisco gay community.

(Hat tip: J.B.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

GetEQUAL Angel Went to the White House;

Benefit to Gays Was . . . ?

(Kip Williams, GetEQUAL's $72,000 executive co-director, touring the Red Room at the White House, on August 23, 2009.)

President Barack Obama today is opening the White House for a reception for select Gay Inc leaders and others from the community, and the Washington Blade earlier this week made note of criticism from the highest-paid, at $89,000, executive co-director of GetEQUAL about the gathering and who's going to it:

Robin McGehee, co-chair of GetEqual, the group responsible for many recent protests on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and other issues key to the LGBT community, expressed skepticism about the reception and said she saw it as a fundraising effort for the Democratic Party.

McGehee, who wasn’t invited to the reception, said invitees should only go to the White House if they intend to advocate on behalf of LGBT people before the president and shouldn’t take part in the event as recreation.

“In reference to the leadership that’s going in, I hope that it’s not just going in to share tea or cocktails, but it’s actually to go in and come out with answers about when the ['Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell'] discharges are going to stop and when ENDA’s going to get to the floor for a vote,” she said.

Granted, McGehee has a point, however, I'd like to also know if we got any such answers when Paul Yandura went to the White House. He is the DC-based gay Democrat who serves as a consultant to gay millionaire Jonathan Lewis, the benefactor who wrote two very large checks to GetEQUAL. Yandura is the angel responsible for bringing McGehee together.

According to White House visitor logs, Yandura had a one-on-one meeting in September 2009 with Brian Bond. He also was one of 300 people for the Hate Crimes Bill signing by Obama in October 2009. BTW, Yandura's longtime partner, Donald Hitchcock, has been to the White House three times.

This gay power-couple's access to the White House is at a much different level than that of GetEQUAL executive co-director Kip Williams'. As the photo above documents, he was able only to take a tour last summer, and nothing on DADT or ENDA happened.

Over at the site, co-founded and championed by Yandura and Hitchcock, they complain that it's disheartening about other gay advocates are going to the White House:

You might find it disheartening that some of our LGBT advocates are going to the Obama Pride reception at the White House. But the game is changing, where this kind of “cocktail party” cozying-up to the White House from our national LGBT “leadership” will no longer be overlooked. Dignity can not be bought, nor should it be sold.

Odd, I don't recall the power-couple making this complaint about their visits to the White House.

But what benefit accrued to the gay community from Yandura and Hitchcock's White House visits anyway? I hope McGehee can tell me how DADT repeal and ENDA movement were advanced by Yandura and Hitchcock through their visits.

Pelosi & ENDA:

SF Pride's Call to Action

A chat took place yesterday between leaders of the SF Pride org, Amy Andre and Mikayla Connell, and three activists who were at last Thursday's town hall meeting, Patrick Connors, Stephen Zollman and myself.

The five of us sat in the lobby, behind the staircase, of the gay community center. We were very transparent in respect to everyone passing through the lobby saw our meeting as they walked by, and the lack of doors pleased my sunshine heart.

After we explained our fierce opposition to giving Nancy Pelosi a free ride at Pride, because of her betrayal to our community regarding a vote this year on ENDA, Mikayla and Amy consented to have remarks made before or after Pelosi's taped address.

Since she will introduce Pelosi's address, as president of the Pride board, Mikayla has the honor of delivering a message to the Speaker of the House and all members of Congress, calling for action on ENDA.

We are drafting a bullet point about Pelosi's recent broken promise of a House vote on ENDA this year, and pent up community frustration over the lack of movement on the bill. Another bullet point will call for immediate, measurable and regular public engagement by Pelosi's district staff with the local community, on ENDA, and all the other issues of importance to us.

Amy said that in their thank you note to Pelosi, they would put it writing, at our suggestion, recommending that Pelosi's openly gay district office manager, Dan Bernal, either organize or actively participate in community forums.

She also commented that such advocacy from the Pride folks may not be enough to accomplish the goal we want: Pelosi's top aid in SF finally starting a public discussion with the community, and ENDA pushed by the Speaker. Amy has a point.

And it will take lots of voices to bring about something I believe Harvey Milk would be screaming about, if he were alive today. We have a shameful dearth of regular town hall engagement by every one of our elected friends, gay pols and Gay Inc orgs and executive directors.

From Pelosi to Mark Leno, Tom Ammiano, Bevan Dufty, David Campos, from the political world, to Matt Foreman, Geoff Kors, Kate Kendell, Roger Doughty, Toni Broaddus, and others in the non-profit, professional homosexual realm, we have a collection of vampires. They fear the sunshine and collective force of community forums and engagements.

But there a shining example of how to do better organizing with non-profits, and I want to give it the attention it deserves. The SF Pride folks told us about their open board meetings. That's not a typo. Open board meetings. Held by a gay org. In San Francisco. I will follow up, after the madness of Pride is over, with the organizers about their monthly meetings that anyone can attend.

I look forward to SF Pride making a strong call to action involving Pelosi, our community and ENDA at the Sunday rally in Civic Center Plaza.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

HRC = Big Donor to IL's Mark Kirk;
$33K to GOP Closet Case

(Kirk, on the left, with an unidentified young male constituent.)

Mark Kirk is a glass closet-living Congressman from Illinois, vying for the U.S. Senate seat once held by Barack Obama.

Elected to the House in 2000, Kirk wants to step up the federal political ladder, and is facing many tough questions about his military, academic, and political resumes. Oh, and DC blogger Mike Rogers recently outed him as a homosexual.

I wasn't surprised to learn that the Human Rights Campaign, according to public records available at, has been among the top 100 donors to Kirk's campaigns.

Kirk took in $10,000 for his 2002 race, placing HRC at number 5 on that year's list of biggest donors. During 2004's election, he received $5,000 from them, landing the org at number 40.

In the 2006 cycle, the org donated $6,025 to Kirk, and earned the 76th spot on the list. For 2008, the HRC contribution was for $10,000, and the org took the 46th ranking. And so far in 2010, the org has given nothing.

Sub-total of HRC checks to Kirk's House races comes to $31,025.

Cruising over to the Federal Election Commission web site, public records show that that HRC gave Kirk $2,000 in 2009 for his Senate race.

Total amount Kirk has taken in from our largest gay political advocacy org, for House and Senate campaigns equals $33,025.

All that gay money thrown at Kirk, who enjoyed high ratings from HRC's political scorecard over the years, came to naught recently when he voted the wrong way on Don't Ask, Don't Tell and HRC has abandoned him and his Senate candidacy.