2007 Verve Awards

2006 Verve Awards


Best Arts and Culture Blog 2005 Queer Day Awards

Best Gay Blog Nominee 2004 Weblog Awards

Best Arts and Culture Blog Nominee

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

 

Andrew Sullivan on HRC

One of the great ironies of my life is that I find myself agreeing more and more with conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan more and more. Of course, Andrew's not a Bush apologist anymore; like me, he bought the Obama line two years ago and became an advocate. Here's his discussion of the horrible behavior of the Human Rights Campaign this past week. If you've been following this story, I'd love to hear your thoughts as well.

Labels: ,

11 Comments:

Blogger ShoNuff said...

as someone who went to the big march this weekend, i was so let down by the whole thing. it was poorly organized (just ask anyone who's ever been to a planned parenthood march & rally), but overall, was so disappointed about the poor support by the seemingly major LGBT organizations. there were no booths, no formal walking groups, and just no sense of a formal movement. despite some really well funded groups, there doesn't seem to be any national organization striving and driving for equality under & through the law.

as for the hrc, boo & hiss. they've sat down on us for so long, they don't even know how to stand up. so focused on image, they forget they don't actually have equal rights.

and as for sullivan, he seems to be the arguably the most voal realist out there. i'm surprised and somewhat disheartened that he's the big voice for our issues.

overall, i'm just so disappointed. makes me want to quit corporate america & try to take up the cause.

10/13/09, 10:59 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Hey ModFab! Love the blog, as always. The love/hate relationship the gay community has with the HRC fascinates me. I have a thought or two, and would love to hear your comments.

First, I am not, nor have I ever been, involved in politics at the level of the HRC. I can't even fathom the tricery, deceipt, strategy and deal-making that must go on to get something done. It's an incredibly complicated machine, one which I haven't even begun to understand.

That having been said, while I wish, hope and desire for the LGBTQ community to have full, legal gay rights immediately, and while I believe we have an advocate in the White House, I don't feel I can 'complain' unless, at the end of this term(s) he doesn't deliver on his promises. That, I believe, was the intent of Joe Solmonese's message. But, like all things, that's a matter of perspective, and the perspective I choose to have in life is one of optimism. I believe Joe is a part of the complicated political machine, one which he understands far better than I do, and I have to trust that the best job is being done, or the organization itself would no longer support him.

I don't understand the comment made in the video about "the HRC hasn't done anything for gay rights in 20 years" (paraphrased). That's a broad statement, one which I know is untrue. How can it be said it hasn't done anything? Does Andrew have some secret power to know how everyone the HRC interacts with is influenced mentally, emotionally or politically? I'm not a huge HRC supporter, but I do appreciate all the work being done on our behalf. As Andrew also said in his video, the organization as a whole is doing so much work for us. Could you, I or Andrew do a better job leading the organization? I know I couldn't, although I've led large organizations before. I don't have the saavy to run within the political machine.

Back to gay rights and Obama. Another perspective of mine is that we (LGBT folks) are not the only group with issues. There are a lot of people that need attention and help. Does a poor family with no health insurance deserve more attention than me? I don't know. Should I be given less attention than securing Iraq? I don't know. I could go on and on. However, while I've heard it said on other blogs, "if Obama can go on trips, and have coffee with so-and-so, he can spend time working for my rights". I understand the sentiment, but it's fairly shallow. My rights are important! I want equal rights. I deserve them. But I also hold the perspective that ME and MY issues are not always the priority. I think they have more priority to this administration than any other in history and I wait with baited breath to see changes made. I believe we will. I also believe we need to see a consistent demonstration of that support, backed by action, even if the action is seemingly small or inconsequential. The fact that the President of the United States came to a dinner and said openly that he supported us means a ton to me. The most powerful man on the planet just said he supports homosexuality. Doesn't that have any influence? Somewhere? On someone? Backed by action is important and I believe we'll see it. We need to keep the pressure on for sure. But we need to do it respectfully, thoughtfully, non-emotionally and intelligently. (I believe that's how Joe's doing it, by the way.)

Oh, and I think Andrew was right on saying how sad it was that there was so little support for the AIDS memorial the night before. I wasn't at the march, but I knew about it. I didn't even know there was anything for AIDS the night before. Maybe not many people knew about it? Just a thought.

Anyway... those are my thoughts. As I said, I don't begin to think I understand all the complexity of the political arena, but I believe my persepective is balanced and reasonable. :)

What say you?
Steve

10/14/09, 9:22 AM  
Blogger ModFab said...

Thanks ShoNuff and Steve for your great comments. Since Steve asked for my response, here's my thoughts on his insights:

STEVE: Hey ModFab! Love the blog, as always.

MODFAB: My, you do have exquisite taste. ;-)

STEVE: while I believe we have an advocate in the White House, I don't feel I can 'complain' unless, at the end of this term(s) he doesn't deliver on his promises. That, I believe, was the intent of Joe Solmonese's message.

MODFAB: Well, I'd agree that was Solomnese and HRC's intent. But I find the logic faulty. Why should we have to wait eight years for any activity? Obama promised last year, in fact, to do these things before 2012. I say we hold him to that, at the very least.

Furthermore, waiting until 2017 means that Obama has no accountability placed upon him...because he'll be out of power by then. Any anger or political action at that point will be beside the point and useless. We must apply the force of our political pressure NOW, when he is still able to achieve the things he promised to do.

And lastly...it seems unconscionably disconnected to say that people deserve rights...but not for another DECADE. Either it's the right thing to do and you do it, or it's the wrong thing to do and you don't.

STEVE: I believe Joe is a part of the complicated political machine, one which he understands far better than I do, and I have to trust that the best job is being done, or the organization itself would no longer support him.

MODFAB: Actually, you *don't* have to trust that the best job is being done...especially when there is so much evidence to the contrary. I'm sure DC politics are tough, but HRC's lack of results (and self-serving administrative bloat -- check them out on charitynavigator.com sometime) make it possible to believe that their only real mission is self-perpetuation.

STEVE: I don't understand the comment made in the video about "the HRC hasn't done anything for gay rights in 20 years" (paraphrased). That's a broad statement, one which I know is untrue.

MODFAB: Mr. Sullivan might be overstating the case, sure. But I think Andrew's asking a fair question: what major victory for LGBT people has HRC won? Ever. I can't think of one, nor can my Google Search.

STEVE: Could you, I or Andrew do a better job leading the organization? I know I couldn't, although I've led large organizations before. I don't have the saavy to run within the political machine.

MODFAB: I don't know that it's the right question to compare you or me with Solomonese. A better question is: is he really the best man for the job, if he's willing to sideline our entire equality agenda for ten years...just so the President will speak at his fundraising dinner?

Part Two next...

10/14/09, 1:39 PM  
Blogger ModFab said...

STEVE: We (LGBT folks) are not the only group with issues. There are a lot of people that need attention and help. Does a poor family with no health insurance deserve more attention than me? I don't know. Should I be given less attention than securing Iraq? I don't know.

MODFAB: I guess my response to this would be...why must we only work on one or the other? It's not possible to do both? And why must we be pushed nine years down the road? Certainly Iraq is a bigger priority, but should it push us completely off the table? I don't think so.

STEVE: My rights are important! I want equal rights. I deserve them. But I also hold the perspective that ME and MY issues are not always the priority.

MODFAB: I agree. But the evidence (so far) has shown that our issues are being forgotten, and the HRC is helping the Obama Administration by moving the goalposts to 2017.

STEVE: I think they have more priority to this administration than any other in history and I wait with baited breath to see changes made. I believe we will.

MODFAB: Actually, more LGBT-centric legislation came out of the first year of the Clinton Administration than the Obama Administration has. That's a documented fact.

STEVE: I also believe we need to see a consistent demonstration of that support, backed by action, even if the action is seemingly small or inconsequential. The fact that the President of the United States came to a dinner and said openly that he supported us means a ton to me.

MODFAB: But what did it get us, Steve? What does it mean, in reality? Does it help us not get fired from our jobs? Does it help our partners when we die? Does it mean soldiers don't have to lie about themselves anymore to do their jobs? Does it help our sick friends with better medical care? No, no, no and no. An appearance at a dinner is nice, but it means precious little in the real world.

STEVE: The most powerful man on the planet just said he supports homosexuality. Doesn't that have any influence? Somewhere? On someone?

MODFAB: As far as I can see, no. Because he isn't supporting us in any tangible way. He's just talking, without any measurable action behind it. It's nice to hear, but it's useless from a practical standpoint.

STEVE: As I said, I don't begin to think I understand all the complexity of the political arena, but I believe my persepective is balanced and reasonable. :)

MODFAB: I agree...I think you're being quite balanced and reasonable, and your optimism is inspiring. I wish I could share in it. And more than anything, I wish Obama would show me something, anything, that made me believe he is really in our corner...and not just giving meaningless speeches to rich, self-interested gays at fancy dinners.

10/14/09, 1:39 PM  
Blogger xolondon said...

It's been 10 months. I am not giving up on this or walking away - the world is far too complex. (That's all I want to say - I agree with much and disagree with as much of what's been said here).

Sullivan is Sullivan. He has his truth. But I'd like to know what Judy Shephard says about the HRC. She has her own truth too.

10/14/09, 8:48 PM  
Blogger xolondon said...

Oh! I do have to say one more thing. I've lived in DC as an "adult" for 18 years. Have even been to an HRC dinner just once in 1999. To blanket those folks as "rich, self-interested gays at fancy dinners" is really to ignore the individual achievement of many of those people, who have lived out and open for years. Sullivan does indeed tar them with one brush.

10/14/09, 8:57 PM  
Blogger ModFab said...

XO -- we all have our truth, true. I respect those who read the current political moment differently than me, and who see value in HRC. I just wish someone would detail to me, in purely informational terms, the tangential policy achievements of that organization.

And keeping an open mind to Obama is admirable...and I'm trying. I just wish someone could explain his actions in ways I could understand. Why he ran as an anti-war candidate, but is actually increasing the size of the way. Why he is making health care harder for poor people instead of easier, as he pledged to do. And why he is backtracking on his promises to LGBT people with this "Second Term" baloney.

As for tarring the HRC's dinner attendees, my sense is that the price tag for a benefit dinner with Obama prohibits middle-class attendance with a high ticket price. I mean, my organization here in DC holds a similar dinner, and our tickets start at $800. Not exactly affordable for regular folk, and I bet HRC is charging that or more.

So I think "rich" and "fancy dinner" might be mean-spirited, but they're pretty much accurate. As for my other adjective -- "self-interested" -- that purely my opinion, and maybe unfair. To some of them. But it fits Joe Solmonese to a tee.

10/14/09, 11:38 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Yo ModFab! Thanks for the blow-by-blow reply... very cool.

Here's a continuation of the dialogue. (I love interactiv blogs!!!)

MODFAB: Well, I'd agree that was Solomnese and HRC's intent. But I find the logic faulty. Why should we have to wait eight years for any activity? Obama promised last year, in fact, to do these things before 2012. I say we hold him to that, at the very least.

Steve: I beleive this is your best statement. Again, Solomnese didn't intend that we wait till 2017 and THEN do a check on progress. I agree with a later statement you made that at that point, he'll be powerless, so what's the point. I agree with your 2012 comment - if nothing's been done by then... he loses my support (unless there is no better choice).

ModFab: And lastly...it seems unconscionably disconnected to say that people deserve rights...but not for another DECADE. Either it's the right thing to do and you do it, or it's the wrong thing to do and you don't.

Steve: No one said we don't deserve rights for another decade. That is what many are choosing to percieve, but that's not anyone's message. Yes, it's the right thing to do, but if Obama went in and dealt with LGBT issues first, do you think he would have had much success nationally? It's a political reality that you can not do everything all at once. Iraq, healthcare and the economy are more than I could fit on my plate, good grief! Give the dude a couple years to make some progress for us as a nation. We shouldn't have to wait, but we've waited for this long and no one (including Clinton) got done what we're asking Obama to do. So, why turn into 'pissing pansy's' when we don't get what we want after 9 short months? (I made that term up... it's not intended to offend.)

ModFab: what major victory for LGBT people has HRC won? Ever. I can't think of one, nor can my Google Search.

Steve: I must admit - I'm not one to do a lot of deep research on this kind of thing. The first question that came to mind was: What organization has EVER, on thier own, been given credit for winning a victory for LGBT rights? All I would say, with confidence, is that the major victories won, may not have been without HRC's influence. Maybe that's just what THEY lead me to beleive - that's totally possible, but I tend to doubt it.

MODFAB: I guess my response to this would be...why must we only work on one or the other? It's not possible to do both? And why must we be pushed nine years down the road? Certainly Iraq is a bigger priority, but should it push us completely off the table? I don't think so.

Steve: Again, my dear chap... you make my point. :) We aren't working on one or the other. He is working on many, many, many priorities. And, I take it as a token of honor (yes, it's just a token), that the freakin' President came to a dinner filled with Mo's and promised what he did (again). If we were pushed off the table completely, he wouldn't have shown up, nor said the things he did. And, no one said we had to wait 9 years. Again... if we look back in 9 years and see no action... shame on us.

MODFAB: Actually, more LGBT-centric legislation came out of the first year of the Clinton Administration than the Obama Administration has. That's a documented fact.

Steve: Didn't the Clinton administration pass DOMA and DADT, or at least support it? Those are the two things we're wanting Obama to undo, right? I guess my point is that every administration has it's +/- side. The + is coming Mod... don't give up. ;)

And, my best point of all? You're FABULOUS!

10/15/09, 5:56 AM  
Blogger xolondon said...

Well, when you talk about DC or anywhere there is a lot of power concentrated, rich and self -interested are a part of the mix, sure. I hope HRC offers a block of cheap tickets to its non-rich folks who have been in the trenches - I assume so, but cannot claim that to be true.

I agree about the public option by the way.

Obama's campaign was naive, but I really do believe people expected too much too soon, given the f*cking mess he walked into.

He has to work, like the HRC, within a rigid system and finesse it. The test will be when and how he starts to put his plans into action.

10/15/09, 6:14 AM  
Blogger Derek said...

Hey ModFab, my old cohort from the now-defunct Cinemarati Roundtable --

Really enjoying reading the back-and-forth on this comment thread. I had seen that YouTube clip a day or two ago, and it's rewarding to read a well-reasoned, rancor-free debate about it.

At this point in the discussion my concurrence may seem a bit milquetoasty, but nevertheless: the real affront was the suggestion that tangible action on LGBT equality not be required until the end of a presumed 2nd Obama term. There is no way of ever really knowing what political tussles Washington will be preoccupied by even one year in the future, to say nothing of seven years. 2012 is a more logical deadline, given that Obama named that date previously... but I feel that such deadlines are the rhetorical tools of politicians. As a citizen who is committed to the cause, I for one feel that we cannot allow equality to simply wait on hold.

Similar to me trying to get my broadband connection installed at my new apartment, we should be saying, "I'm sorry but NO, if you put me back on hold again I swear to God I will cancel this account and take my business elsewhere. This all should have been taken care of last week, so I do not have more time to sit on hold twiddling my thumbs and hope that one day I'll get the service I ordered. So kindly get me a mo-fockin' supervisor on the line who can DO something about getting this fixed, or else prepare for customer relations to hear how Daniel, Agent #28973, lost them a customer."

Now that I've written it that analogy feels kind of inadequate, since equal rights for all citizens is much more important than whether my broadband works, but whatever. The point is, like Jon Stewart aptly put it regarding DADT, don't tell us Obama has too much "on his plate" -- he's the President of the Muthafuckin United States, if it doesn't all fit on there, get a bigger plate!

My other thought is more minor: I noted ModFab's feeling of the "strange bedfellows" syndrome from agreeing with Andrew Sullivan. I recall my own deep skepticism of him not so long ago, given his having supported the invasion of Iraq and so forth. He gained my respect through his intellectual and moral honesty, demonstrated by admitting his mistake of ever trusting (or even believing) Bush & Co. about pretty much anything. He was way out in front on the appalling disgrace of the Gitmo/torture issue (my other primary political hobbyhorse), even compared to many so-called liberals. He had the balls to call Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al. what they are: war criminals. Compared to what passes for conservatism in today's political miscourse, you have to look hard to even detect his core of "classical" conservative principle. There are certainly still plenty of points upon which I disagree with him, but I can only wish that there were more conservatives like him in positions of power. Our legislative branch might even -- gasp! -- get some shit done.

10/16/09, 2:03 PM  
Blogger ModFab said...

Derek,

That cable phone call is the best political analogy I've ever heard. Brilliant (and hilarious)!

10/16/09, 2:29 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home