Thursday, April 07, 2011

Jones/Courage Campaign: Repeal DOMA
Captains in 435 Congressional Districts?

I've seen this movie before. In the fall of 2009, more than 100,000 gay folks and allies descended upon Washington, DC, for what I dub Cleve-Apalooza, a rally held on the steps and lawn of the U.S. Capitol on a weekend when Congressional members were out of town.

Longtime gay community advocate Cleve Jones spearheaded the Equality Across America/National Equality March, without much transparency and no public meetings to discuss little details like strategy, political demands, and follow up after the rally.

We were told march and rally were part of "a network of decentralized organizers in every one of the 435 Congressional districts. These organizers form Congressional District Action Teams (CDATs) that work within their own communities to achieve full equality for LGBT Americans and their families."

There were supposed to be 435 district captains to come out of the 2009 weekend in Washington, but that promise was not fulfilled. One month after the rally, the Bay Area Reporter performed a valuable duty for the gays and asked Cleve about those promised organizing teams across America:

"It remains to be seen exactly how many of those teams have been formed. Jones said Tuesday that he thinks groups have formed in some 200 districts. 'But that's kind of fuzzy,' he added." ...

Let's cut to the chase. Not a single team was formed, and certainly not in Cleve's district in Palm Springs where was living at the time, and is represented by the GOP's Mary Bono Mack. For all practical purposes, I thought the 435 Congressional district captains idea was as dead as doornail. Guess again.

Unnamed editors yesterday ran a marginally-altered release from Jones and his sponsoring organization about a scam to raise funds, harvest email addresses and phone numbers, while boosting their "membership" numbers, all part of a ruse to fool people into thinking this effort will actually accomplish any serious organizing or heavy lifting to do away with DOMA.

Illustrating how low this publication has sunk in providing an historical perspective to the "news" it reports, mention of the 2009 promise for a 435 network of activists is omitted by editors:

The Courage Campaign has launched a 50-state strategy to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which is also being challenged in federal court cases and by Congress.

The plan, in conjunction with longtime activist Cleve Jones, will be managed on a grassroots level, with efforts in each of the 435 congressional districts. ...

If this supposed plan exists, let's see the details and have the organizers hold a few town hall meetings to get feedback and engage the community. The plan in 2009 never materialized and the would do us all a huge service if they reminded us of that failure and took a skeptical look at the Courage Campaign's motivations.

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