GetEqual: More than marriage?

Recently, a queer activist and blogger told me about a group called GetEqual, saying it focuses on more than just marriage.

Some ignoramous had written an article in defense of Gay Inc., criticizing queer radicals as vandals, he defended the corporate smoozy campaign called ‘Its Gets Better’ which he said saves lives which I find to be utter bullshit, and wrote: “If it is impact of direct action that they crave, perhaps their energy might be better spent by allying with groups like GetEQUAL, who are actually making a difference by using the act of protest.” I decided to look into this group itself, to learn what they were all about.

Their about us page says that they want to “empower the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community and our allies to take bold action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way.”Their tactics include “online calls to action…Direct actions that strategically target those with decision-making power,” town hall meetings, training sessions, advice on “direct action campaign planning,” “Coordinated, distributed actions,” a “centralized online organizing hub,” and an “Online toolkit to support local organizers’ work in their own communities.”

They further say:

“We envision a society in which LGBTQ people experience equal protection under the law, and are free from cultural and social transphobia/homophobia, without caveat or compromise. To that end, GetEQUAL will inspire and equip the LGBTQ community and allies to fight back against discrimination in a way that builds power and personal agency, encourage LGBTQ people to take our place to push forward progressive change as equals, and to build bridges with all who struggle for justice and dignity in their lives…Organizing direct actions that lead to moments of crisis in existing power structures – moments that result in more power for our allies in the movement and the political will for elected officials to resolve that conflict…Refusing to count as friends those who stand in the way of equality — regardless of party affiliation or individual/organizational agendas. Challenging false frameworks that claim legal and social equality for LGBT Americans has already arrived…This work will involve many different avenues for supporters to take action individually, including both online and offline mechanisms within the context of sustained campaigns.”

Then they state what is sort of in a manifesto form:

The LGBTQ movement stands at a turning point. In the 40 years since the Stonewall Riots, our lives have changed immeasurably. We have Gay-Straight Alliances in schools across the country, out characters in movies and on television, affirming communities of faith, and openly gay public officials. But we are still unequal as working people, as members of the military, as families, as immigrants, as students, as taxpayers, and as citizens. All across the country, LGBTQ people are regularly the victims of hate crimes and discrimination on the job. More than 30 states have banned same-sex marriage. Several states have banned us from adopting children, and in the majority of states it remains legal to fire people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Perhaps most discouraging, we have seen little movement on our federal legislative priorities. Though “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been swept into the dustbins of history, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has been mired in delays for decades, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) still codifies discrimination as the law of the land despite marginally favorable Supreme Court rulings, and other legislation that would provide equal protection in immigration law, schools, housing, credit, and many other aspects of American life remain on the to-do list. All the while, supposedly progressive leaders openly refuse to prioritize our civil rights, and many of our own leaders (out elected officials and directors of long-standing LGBTQ advocacy organizations) have become mouthpieces of the status quo – urging us to continue waiting patiently for equality. In light of this discouraging state of affairs, hundreds of thousands of Americans – LGBTQ and straight – are demanding a new direction for our movement. In October of 2009, more than 150,000 people marched on Washington to demand full federal equality. Activists young and old returned to their communities inspired, and people everywhere are still pushing for change at home. We believe this momentum can fundamentally change the current political dynamic, restricting support for those who stand in the way of full equality, and emboldening those who want to do the right thing. No longer can we settle for empty promises while our youth commit suicide, our rights are stripped away at the ballot box, and we are treated as second-class citizens. The time has come to say unequivocally that we are more than a political movement – we are a civil rights movement. GetEQUAL exists to serve and grow this constituency of everyday Americans – LGBTQ and straight – who are willing and ready to demand equality. We are committed to working with everyone, no matter the sex, gender, race, class, look, age, ability, religion, family status, and citizenship to build a society in which lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are equal.

This is all great and radical rhetoric, but what to they completely stand for? Their FAQ gives some ideas into this. They explain the structure of GetEqual, the history of its formation, and so on. They say “we will not consider ourselves successful until full federal equality is realized by all LGBTQ people, in regards to queer and trans rights.” But there is something troubling. They work with their ‘allies’ which means big organizations, like Gay Inc. itself. As they note, “GetEQUAL has helped to spur movement on both the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and on the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.” This is deeply troubling, as it seems to making the impression they want the same goals as Gay Inc. but will only use more radical means to get them. Their ultimate goal is awfully weak: “Our ultimate goal is to acquire full federal equality – settling with nothing less than equal protection in all matters governed by civil law” and enshrouds itself under state protection. They even say that Democrats our ‘political friends’ which is dangerous considering the evils that the Democratic Party has committed over the years and should not be trusted and neither should the GOP. Then, there is something even more disturbing. They defend their advocacy for repealing DADT, saying that while they are allowing LGBTQ people to go into an unjust institution, that

“the reality of our mission is to fight for the right to serve, or not, for every LGBTQ person who would like that choice…we believe strongly in the right of those who have chosen to defend/serve our country to serve with respect, honesty and integrity, and we recognize the power that military integration has held historically…in the efforts toward integration and full equality in the wider society.”

This is utter bullshit. They really don’t know what they are talking about. They support ‘immigration reform,’ which they forget is not really reform at all, and continues the ‘war on immigrants’ with increased enforcement at the border, crackdowns, and harsher measures. This is a clear example of the ‘oppression olympics’ at play in their thinking. They continue to push for ENDA to become a reality, without realizing any of the problems that it has, as I pointed out. Their calling of gay marriage, ‘marriage equality‘ is also absurd, as it really as equality for some is not equality for all.

Now, who sits on their board? Well, their staff & consultants includes two white woman and one queer Asian Pacific Islander. Their board is led by a white woman who used to work for the Gay Inc. group, NGLTF, and also has these others on the board: a white donor and activist; a white male bishop who worked to overturn California’s Prop 8; a white women who worked for SEIU; a black man who sits on Marriage Equality USA; a black woman who helped found the Dream Defenders; a black woman who works for the Democrat-friendly Democracy for America (DFA); a white woman who works for the Working Families Party which really works for plutocrats.

Due to all of these factors, GetEqual would not be a group that such queer radicals would ally with for these reasons. Simply put, GetEqual is just a more “radical” version of Gay Inc., pushing for the same causes that Gay Inc. cares about but with more radical methods.


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