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  • Wednesday, April 13, 2005



    I just don't have a politically tactical mind. The attempt to nuance a position, to appeal to a larger group of people, is a little foreign to me. It's not that I don't believe in compromise; I just don't believe in compromising your core integrity. With the mainstreaming of several gay rights groups and their reliance on appealing to an expanding donor base, that is what I see happening. As a veteran of the AIDS protests and die-ins of the 1980s, I'm not big on expecting change to come just through lobbying and writing letters. Oh, I know lobbying efforts have their place but I don't personally support them much.

    I really liked a photo I saw recently in an Advocate article on the Human Right Campaign (HRC) in the March 29, 2005 issue. It showed Larry Kramer protesting against the HRC with a sign that said: "HRC- What the fuck are you doing with all that money"? Over on Charity Navigator, HRC has an amazingly low rating. Less than %50 of the money given actually goes to progams. The rest is for more fundraising and administration costs.

    The following is from Straightwashing by Rebecca Hyman:

    If it's not enough of an indignity to be resoundingly spanked by the passage of eleven amendments forbidding gay marriage, gay folk are now in the position of reading articles in The New York Times announcing that the Human Rights Campaign and other mainstream gay rights organizations are engaged in a "debate over whether they should moderate their goals in the wake of [their] bruising losses." In the face of such a rout at the national level, the mainstream press seems to expect that queers, tails between their legs, will follow the DNC in castigating themselves for promoting any agenda other than that of corporate interests.

    What's interesting to consider is how it became plausible for the Times and other members of the press to read the success or failure of gay marriage as indicative of the gay rights movement's relative progress. Or, more precisely, why "gay marriage" has come to stand for gay rights, when historically, many of those involved in the gay rights movement have fought not only to achieve sexual freedom, but also to destroy those larger structures of power - classism, racism, and patriarchy - that contribute to the oppression of those who are different. Given the fact that some progressive queers read marriage as symbolic of the very culture they seek to transform, it is not surprising that they see the quest for marriage rights as inherently problematic.

    Yet it can also be said that because the Right so successfully used the threat of gay marriage to galvanize voters in the re-election campaign of President Bush, those working in mainstream gay rights organizations were compelled to respond: the gay community was under attack. And, following the truism that "no publicity is bad publicity," it made sense for them to re-appropriate the negative attention by demonstrating that gay and lesbian couples deserve the rights granted to their straight married analogs. As stories about gay marriage crowded out reporting on other issues that could have been the central focus of the movement, the debate about marriage, either by default or by choice, appeared to be the main concern of gay people as much as the Christian fundamentalist base. At the pride parade in Atlanta last summer, for example, almost all of the floats focused on marriage, and participants threw intertwined rings to the spectators to remind them of the Christian Coalition's efforts to pass a constitutional amendment forbidding gay marriage.

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