The current movement has a strategy that is found heavily buried in acronyms and discrete concepts which are all important. Each one is a piece of the whole, a bit, a bite sized morsel.
There’s ENDA, the jobs bill. DADT, the jobs bill. DOMA, for marriage equality. And others besides those, of course, and here’s the sad truth, the truth even ornery sorts like myself often forget when we fall into the trap that the current way of doing things sets us up for.
All of them are important.
We can get into heated arguments over which piece should be pursued first, and justify each of them with arguments good, bad and indifferent. We can fight over the strategic implications of red or white or blue until we are purple and putrescent, but all of that fails us all when we do so, as it serves only to foster disunion and dischord because the pieces we are dealing with are all discrete and disassembled, and, thusly, tend to miss the important stuff.
We talk about these things in terms of rights. For some it’s “gay rights”, for others its human rights; for yet others its rights that already exist and are being blocked, for others again its about rights not held.
And yet, barring the few who harbor various aspects of internalized prejudice that want nothing to do with gay men or lesbians or trans folk or bi folk, we all want one thing that all of those things are merely the kibbles and bits of.
Or, given how they are dealt with, maybe they should be called the Quibbles and Bits.
That thing? Equality.
Our approach, right now, developed through the process of what’s really fairly secretive decision making by a relatively few people who sit on boards and attained that position by garnering funds for an organization for the most part, is a compromise.
It’s a political compromise, as well, built on the idea that some of us are just too damned hard to deal with. That some aspects of our lives are too difficult to make a point of argument, that it is easier to do it for those that fit in first and then come back for the rest later.
As I pointed out in a comment recently, most of the LGBT community is not on the radar of those in power — we are seen as a liability, and so they will not show the faces and the impact of things that in the days of Stonewall, would have people marching int he streets.
In their minds, those people are little more than nuisances — liabilities to the movement, to the cause.
They see it as “people don’t care if we are poor. THey think we should be.” And so we get stories that talk about white and well off gay men, not the rest.
And there’s truth there, which is what hurts. Those in power don’t care if we are poor. If we are losing homes and livings and having to find a place in some dump that respectable people don’t go.
Because we are not respectable people to them. We are stigmatized. By the color of our skin. By the nature of our beings. By the lack of money, which too many — even in our own communities — use to define success.
And they are afraid of that. They are afraid it will wash off on them. They are afraid that when it does, it will create a backlash, that it will cost us momentum they claim we have.
They see us as having no power, no influence, no weight or importance, and so, in the end, we have none of that.
It’s all part of the disconnect, part of the separation that exists, the stratification of class and race and sex that is endemic to the society as a whole, and, in their minds, it’s too dangerous.
And lest anyone thinks I’m just making this up, I know this because they say it. They say it in interviews, they say it in speeches, they talk about it when they say they can’t do this or this has to come first,.
They are doing some good, though, and they believe that that good will trickle down to the little people, the people that are at the bottom. They believe that with the same faith and commitment that drove the same policy in an economic sense for so long.
And they blame it on apathy, not the struggle just to survive. They blame it on our opponents, not themselves. They find fault in those who criticize them, citing tone arguments and interpersonal conflicts.
Because they don’t want to see it in themselves, in their organizations, in their failures to do the jobs they were hired to do.
This is the way it is.
And this is what we want to change.
And the way to change that is not to do it in little pieces. Not to start from a position of compromise.
Our opponents are not starting from a position of compromise. They are starting from a position that is balls tot he wall, flat out absolutist. They want us gone. They want us denied basic equality. They want us buried — and they want us that way because we are their boogeymen, their fears, and fear is the key to their power and influence and it is what pollutes every word they utter about us.
And those in power believe them.
Without us, they have no evil to fight. So they don’t want us to come forward and be unified — they like us fractured into thousands of little bits. THey like the infighting and the cattiness.
We are starting from a position of compromise, because each of those pieces is a part of a whole, and they are in pieces because of a compromise that we need to fight them each distinctly. THis creates the Quibbles, the arguing, the jocking, the different groups fighting for different things, and it’s much easier to tackle them that way.
Let’s look at DOMA, real quick. Much of what we are doing is in reaction to it when it comes to marriage equality. DOMA, itself, is a compromise. All public policy is a compromise.
So we are bringing a compromise to a table with a compromise, and those two things are going to need to be compromised as well.
ENDA is a compromise — instead of seeking a larger bill that includes the basics — housing and social service access — it’s just jobs. It’s smarter this way, they say.
So we are going to go into the halls of Congress, where everything is a compromise, and we are going to compromise on the compromise.
Because we have to.
And I gotta say it: that’s stupid.
That’s REALLY stupid. And so when we bitch about the failure of DADT and ENDA and DOMA challenges, what we are doing is bitching at ourselves for not doing it the right way in the first place.
So it’s our fault that what we get when we put in these compromises and expect them to remain unscathed. For one, that’s piss poor politics, That’s piss poor lobbying.
If you ask for something from congress, you’ll get half of what you ask for. That was always the theory, always the understanding, and in the circles of power, that’s something those who lead organizations that are meant to represent us are not talking about it.
We need to stop asking for a little bit and getting a half of a little bit — which creates a situation where we have to actually br grateful for kibbles and bits thrown at us by a fierce advocate that we forget is still immeasurably better than the person that would have been there instead of him: McCain.
You don’t like Obama, fine — your choices were Obama and McCain. Which would you choose now?
It’s our fault that we’ve put ourselves in this position.
We need to stop compromising, and we need to start asking for more than we expect.
We need to walk in there with an Omnibus bill that not only asks for what we absolutely must have at minimum, but also stuff above and beyond that, that covers the whole gamut of everything we could possibly need.
The example that comes to mind is when we talk about Gender Identity and Expression, we shouldn’t jsut ask for jobs and housing and the ability to actually sue the SOB’s for money, but that we get that insurance coverage in Medicare and Medicaid for everything. That yeah, we want FFS and boob jobs included.
Yes, seriously. That’s what we need to ask for. Everything. IT needs to be rock solid, too — a big ole document that makes their eyes glaze over just thinking about the size of it.
Kinda funny, I know, but there’s not humor on this side as I talk about it. I’m absolutely serious.
No, we won’t get it. We know that to start with.
But it will change the conversation. Because saying that we can have nothing is not a position of compromise, and would make them look bad.
Compromise is what drives politics, it’s the essence of the republican form of government. Hell, it’s the very reason why we have a Senate and a House.
It’s the reason that the Bill of Rights were Amendments to the Constitution, and not a part of it to start with.
You walk in, you set that massive eight poound sheaf of barely bound papers on the table, and you say “let’s deal.”
Because now you have things to deal with. You have stuff that you *can* compromise on, stuff that you *can* come back for later because now the conversation *has* to be held, now they have to figure out how to fight you on *your* terms.
Instead of a bunch of conversati0ns about this and that and that and this, we’ll be having one conversation about the one big bill, and we can still have our drama over the choices they make (wait — you can compromise on FFS but not boob jobs, and we’ll let you have the religious exemptions if you keep in the UAFA parts, and so forth), and we come at it from a position of no more of this stupid recycled “oh we’ll leave those people behind” or “we need to do more education” stories.
It’s all at once.
Or hey, just make it easy. Introduce a simple Bill, over and over and over again, that just says “adds sexual orientation and gender expression/identity to the Civil Rights Act.”
Or what the heck, yeah — let’s let american vote on it: propose a constitutional amendment that puts us into the mix.
It won’t have the same effect, mind you, and it won’t make the disparate groups drop their tiny fights in favor of a massive one, but eh.
We haven’t won much because we haven’t’ been asking for much.
And that’s got to change as well…