Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Questions GetEQUAL Should Answer

(It took getting 420 medicated to realize the remarkable similarity with solid bars in both the HRC and the GetEQUAL logos.)

One of the most prolific critics of GetEQUAL is a man who posts to lots of blogs as AndrewW, and he has plenty of questions for other orgs and activists in the gay movement. He's never revealed his identity, no one I've asked has met him, he claims to have big bucks, I can't locate anyone who has received a grant from or contract with him, says he possesses lots of research polling, and his anonymity frustrates many folks.

We part company on numerous issues, including who among the Democrats are actual friends of ours, but where I find most common ground with AndrewW is his campaign for accountability from the Jonathan Lewis/Paul Yandura/Richard Socarides puppets operating as GetEQUAL.

Back in June, AndrewW on several blogs posted a few simple questions for the leaders of this new Gay Inc org:

1. Who started GetEQUAL?

2. Who decided how much to pay everyone? And, why?

3. With only two major funding sources, who sets GetEqual's goals and priorities?

4. Who's accountable for GetEqual's actions? Who is in charge?

5. Will the GetEQUAL soon-to-be-formed Board be packed with cronies and allies or will it consist of a respectable and diverse mix of seasoned and new activists?

6. What is GetEQUAL's strategy and what are the results you must achieve to be successful?

7. How do the "crazy shenanigans" (GetEQUAL leader Heather Cronk's words) benefit the LGBT Community?

8. How do efforts to embarrass our political friends (Democrats) help the LGBT Community?

9. How does "demanding" lead to changed minds or additional support for the LGBT Community? What "threat" is attached to these so-called "demands?"

10. When will GetEQUAL organize formally and comply with legal and disclosure requirements for Non-profit organizations?

Almost two months after those questions were raised, the org has still not responded. In response to concerns raised by Bil Browning at Bilerico.com, Heather Cronk, who earns $70,000, defended her org:

We will be gathering the staff together in June for a staff retreat, and will be setting benchmarks then -- all three of us, and our other two staff members, will all be responsible for hitting those benchmarks over the course of the next year. [...]

While we have not yet asked for a dime from our supporters or from new funders, we will do so after our staff retreat when we can show work plans and benchmarks -- and not a second before. [...]

It is the end of July, and there is nothing posted at the org's lame site about what happened at the retreat. On top of that, the org refuses to share the details about who works for them, how much they are paid, who provides the funds, where and when they hold public meetings, and have nothing posted about whatever their sunshine policies may be.

Let's not overlook the significant matter of the org's board of advisers, or however it is they will eventually structure themselves. More from Cronk:

Given that Bil has no knowledge of who has been invited to join the board or who we are planning to invite to join the board, everything that follows this paragraph is irresponsible speculation. And I can't wait to see Bil's post on GetEQUAL's accountability to donors, the (not-yet-formed) board, or the community from which we have not raised a dime.

We're not holding back the names of board members -- they're simply just not confirmed yet. We're happy to make those names public once they're finalized.
It is true that GetEQUAL is in the process of applying for tax-exempt status -- and with that status comes a demand for accountability. Even if we weren't applying for that status, I think all of the staff would agree that we owe that to the LGBT community and to our allies who support our work.

The org has been around since late winter, lots of public promises have been made to inform the community of basic info, that could only come after another invitation-only retreat, and Cronk has not provided any follow up to what she promised on Bilerico.

What would be really great is if GetEQUAL finally answer AndrewW questions, and tell us the details of their retreat last month. Who is on the board of advisers and what is the legal status of this org?


David said...

Michael - you realize that ACT-UP never had a board of directors, either, right? And that their extreme antics were criticized in their time in terms very similar to what you've written here? Just saying.

Unknown said...


i'm not so pot-headed to remember this fact from my act up daze! we lacked a board of directors, but we had a coordinating committee that was open to everyone, including the likes of me.

also, act up held regular public meetings, so public the cops sat in the front row. and a lot of poor people, sick people, rich people, angry and loving people gathered in public to create a world-changing org and save lives.

getequal is NOTHING like act up, except for an occasional zap, and zaps without much homework. and lack of homework is very un act up.


AndrewW said...

Robin and Heather have both said repeatedly they would answer those simple questions after their Summer Camp. They haven't.

GetEQUAL is certainly no Act Up. Act Up had a crisis, they had targets and they had sincere leadership. They were effective.

Jonathan Lewis and Paul Yandura hired Robin and Kip to "embarrass Democrats." That's their job. I believe accountability applies to not only organizations, but also to tactics and strategies. Therefore, it is important to determine if "embarrassing Democrats" is helpful. GetEQUAL has never provided any rationale for that tactic and they've never even explained it. Instead they simply talk about it as if it's a "secret formula."

I acknowledge the frustration in the LGBT Community, especially with Democrats or politics in general. But, there are a few problems with trying to publicly humiliate certain Democrats. First, the audience for these actions are "other Democrats," and within that group, less than one-third identifies with our issues. That means two-thirds find stunts like heckling the President or harassing a Committee Chairman both offensive and counterproductive. Second, these stunts that make "demands" have no threat. In order for demands to have any effect the target must be aware of a threat or consequence. There is none. Robin recently said that if Pelosi didn't act on ENDA that "we would throw her our of office." Child-speak.

I do not believe there is a "political solution" to our equality, but I think it is important to respect whatever progress has been made in that troublesome arena. Political friends aren't very reliable, but the alternative is much worse. In that context, it doesn't make any sense to alienate political friends.

ish said...

You know the other thing in common between HRC and GetEqual, logos included, is how closeted they are as brands.