Harvey Logan: Guns or Knives?
Butch Cassidy: Neither?
Harvey Logan: Pick.
Butch Cassidy: I don't want to shoot with you Harvey.
Harvey Logan: [Draws a big knife] Anything you say, Butch.
[Butch walks over to Sundance]
Butch Cassidy: [in a low voice] Maybe there's a way to make a profit in this. Bet on Logan.
Sundance Kid: I would, but who'd bet on you?
Harvey Logan: Sundance, when we're done, and he's dead, you're welcome to stay.
Butch Cassidy: [low voice, to Sundance] Listen, I don't mean to be a sore loser, but when it's done, if I'm dead, kill him.
Sundance Kid: [low voice to Butch] Love to.
[waves to Harvey and smiles]
Butch Cassidy: No, no, not yet. Not until me and Harvey get the rules straightened out.
Harvey Logan: Rules? In a knife fight? No rules.
[Butch immediately kicks Harvey in the groin]
Butch Cassidy: Well, if there aint' going to be any rules, let's get the fight started. Someone count. 1,2,3 go.
Sundance Kid: [quickly] 1,2,3, go.
[Butch knocks Harvey out]
Flat Nose Curry: I was rooting for you all along, Butch
Butch Cassidy: Well, thank you, Flatnose. That's what sustained me in my time of trouble.
- a scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Watch what they do, not what they say.
I remain astounded by gays and lesbians who support politicians demonstrating, by their actions, that they want no part of the gay and lesbian struggle for equality.
I find it almost impossible to fathom, for example, gays and lesbians who support Republican politicians who work to disenfranchise us by imposing state and federal anti-marriage amendments.
I listen to Republican apologists on various forums -- Steve Miller's blog
at the Independent Gay Forum, for example -- and the left-handed apologetics they come up with seem lame, to say the least. Nonsensical would be the more accurate word, I suspect. I've even heard "The president has many gay friends in his personal life ...", for God's sake. Who the hell cares who President Bush has over to dinner if he actively works against us?
My view is that gays and lesbians should hold politicians' feet to the fire on the core issues of gay and lesbian equality, refusing to give time, talent or contributions to any politician, Democrat or Republican, who stands in opposition to our struggle, and making it plain to those who do support us that lip service is not enough.
I wrote to my state representative, Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, last year, in connection with the 30-year struggle to add "sexual orientation" to the Illinois anti-discrimination law. Barbara and I go way back. I was a foot soldier in her first campaign in the 1970's, and served in various capacities in her campaigns over the years. Barbara has consistently voted on the right side of issues affecting gay and lesbian equality, and she has been a good friend to gays and lesbians, despite the fact that ours is a predominantly African-American legislative district, and Barbara is under pressure to "cool it" on gay and lesbian issues.
But last year, voting right on our issues was not enough. The anti-discrimination law had been blocked over the years by conservative, downstate Democratic leadership, and it was time to put an end to it, I told Barbara, bluntly and in plain English, that she had to get off her ass on this issue and use her leadership position to make it happen. A lot of other gays and lesbians in our neighborhood did the same, in letters, phone calls and personal conversations.
I don't know whether our efforts were the deciding factor for Barbara, or whether she had finally reached the same level of frustration that we reached. But last year she used her power in the legislature to bulldoze the conservative downstaters, and sexual orientation was added to the Illinois anti-discrimination law.
Similarly, I don't give money to the state or national Democratic party organizations, and will not as long as the fund-raising letters and e-mails I get from them don't raise gay and lesbian issues. I respond to each, telling them that I was disappointed to see a long issues list with nary a word about gay and lesbian equality, and letting them know that I don't intend to contribute a cent unless and until Democrats make gay and lesbian equality a front-burner issue for the party.
I go after Republicans a lot on this blog. I go after Republicans because the Republican record -- both what they do and what they say -- is abysmal on gay and lesbian issues. Anyone who follows Republican rhetoric and action can't avoid coming to that conclusion, unless they are delusional.
The Democrats have a much better record on our core issues.
In state after state, Democrats -- in marked contrast to Republicans -- stand in opposition to the proposed anti-marriage constitutional amendments, whether or not in favor of same-sex marriage. In Wisconsin, where I live, for example, not a single Republican -- not one -- voted against the proposed anti-marriage amendment that will be on the ballot this fall. Almost all Democrats voted against it.
The contrast between the parties is marked in this respect, and makes a difference, I think.
But the bottom line is that we have to watch what they do, not what they say.
And the Democrats have just pulled a fast one on us, I think.
The Democratic National Committee recently abolished the Democratic Party’s constituent outreach desks, including the post of Director of Lesbian and Gay outreach. The constituent desks have been replaced with a a new program called the American Majority Partnership, which supposedly "integrates efforts to address the concerns of minorities" into all of the DNC’s departments and offices:
"To ensure all voters are respected, we no longer act as a series of disconnected silos. We will never be greater than the sum of our parts or as effective as we must be to win if we maintain a series of separate operations unable to achieve integration of effort and unity of purpose. Instead, we must have an integrated, elevated and cohesive approach to working with the communities that comprise the Democratic majority. To that end, Governor Dean has insisted that every staff member at every level must be aware of the needs and priorities of all the communities the party represents, must reach out respectfully to those communities, and must build bridges between and among communities based on our shared values and priorities.
I don't think so. I think that the DNC is taking us off the table.
The Lesbian and Gay Outreach office was an effective voice to -- and from
-- gays and lesbians. The office coordinated the efforts of 80,000 gay and lesbian volunteers in state and national elections, and made sure that gay and lesbian issues were raised -- bluntly and in plain English -- in strategy sessions, platform committees and so on. Gay and lesbian voters turned out in high numbers in battleground states in the 2004 election, and voted heavily Democratic.
The DNC would have us believe that gay and lesbian issues will be addressed in "integrated" minority representation groups throughout the DNC.
I don't think so. I think that the DNC is taking us off the table.
while it is true that gays and lesbians have common ground with other minority groups, our issues are often at odds with the issues of other minority groups. The issue of same-sex marriage is particularly divisive within the Democratic coalition, because same-sex marriage is strongly resisted within the African-American community.
The bottom line is that gays and lesbians need a voice within the Democratic Party advocating and organizing around the issues of gay and lesbian equality, and it strains credulity to believe that our issues will be effectively raised in bureaucratic roundtables trying to balance the interests of all minority groups.
To add insult to injury, the DNC is maintaining the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Council, which raises money from gays and lesbians.
Our money is good enough, but are issues are not? Do you hear that subtext message as clearly as I do?
I think that Howard Dean is afraid. I think that he believes that issues of gay and lesbian equality hurt the Democrats politically in 2004.
I don't think so. If that is what he thinks, Howard Dean is dead wrong.
What killed the Democrats in 2004 was "flip-flopping", or the perception of "flip-flopping". And the biggest "flip-flop" issue party wide was the issue of gay and lesbian rights. The Democratic Party, nationally, did what the Illinois Democratic leadership did until recently in the battle to add sexual orientation to the state's anti-discrimination laws – waffled and pandered to social conservatives.
Exit polls from the 2004 election show that voter opposition to same-sex marriage and other gay and lesbian equality issues was not
a "voting issue" for Democrats and independent swing voters -- gay and lesbian issues are "voting issues" only for gays and lesbians and for a limited but vocal and politically active minority within the Republican Party.
But all voters know a "flip-flop" when they see one, and most swing voters -- according to exit polling -- who voted Republican did so because the Democratic Party was seen as rudderless, unable to define principles and stick with them. Democrats talked a good game, but voters didn't trust them to stick with the game plan. And that is why Democrats lost.
Let me suggest this: Gays and lesbians should give their time, talent and contributions to politicians who champion our issues, and let the Democratic National Committee that we are not going to play for table scraps any more. Money talks, and when the DNC is willing, once again, to listen to us, we will listen to them. But not until then.
We are engaged in a long, hard battle for equality. We cannot afford to be in a position where our money is good enough, but our issues are not. We need to hold the Democrats' feet to the fire.