Karen Ocamb

Foot Soldiers Needed in California and Maine, Not Washington DC

Filed By Karen Ocamb | June 01, 2009 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: Cleve Jones, David Mixner, EqCa, Equality California, gay marriage, Geoff Kors, HIV/AIDS, Jon Corzine, Maine Marriage Equality, March on Washington, marriage equality, Prop 8

With all due respect to Cleve Jones and David Mixner, who I've known and covered for many years, I think we seriously need to question the wisdom of convening a march on Washington this October.

Yes, LGBT people are angry and disappointed that President Barack Obama hasn't lived up to his promises and our expectations - something David knows about intimately, having been failed by his one-time friend Bill Clinton. Cleve, too, knows deeply about government scorn and neglect, having created the profound remembrance of those we lost as a result - the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

And I understand the call for a march. I am among Obama's critics - I am stunned that he has so flagrantly forgotten, despite being a constitutional scholar, that equality is the first core founding principle of this country, and as leaders in the civil rights movement so aptly pointed out - "justice delayed is justice denied."

That Obama is still allowing the military to kick out qualified gays who are willing to die for this country - at a time when we are fighting two wars and may be called on elsewhere in the world - is the pinnacle of absurdity. Congress, too, should be ashamed for not repealing the ridiculous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.

All that said, here are five questions about the wisdom of holding a march this October 10-12:

  1. If the point is to demand equal rights from Obama and Congress, wouldn't it be better to hold the march when they're in town and not over the Columbus Day holiday? Who's making the decision that this is what we all need to do - without any prior discussion from the "community" that's supposed to attend?
  2. Given the four month-deadline and the economic downturn - and no matter how bare-bones the production - who's paying for the stage, the equipment, the permits, the hotel-set asides, etc - all the vendors who will not make a contribution to the cause, will not defer payment or volunteer?
  3. Given that Maine is voting to repeal their marriage equality in November - shouldn't the LGBT nation's eyes be turned towards Maine? If they lose, we could have a domino effect in the Northeast and in California in 2010. There's also the effort to re-elect New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine - for without him, the effort to secure marriage equality there will suffer a tremendous setback.
  4. The ballot language for the 2010 initiative to repeal Prop 8 is due in September. Though outreach efforts are already underway, the filing date is a perfect time to announce a massive grassroots field and fundraising effort - considering that California is huge (one-eighth of all US residents lives here) and there would be only 14 months from that date to change enough hearts and minds to win in November. Why take people away from the 2010 effort for a three-day feel-good trip to Washington that few can afford to make?
  5. The aforementioned economic downtown is no joke. California is $24 billion in the red; on Friday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced $2.8 billion in cuts - with threats to shut down both the state's Healthy Family Program a health insurance program for over 900,000 children and Cal-Works, the state welfare program that gives the poor temporary financial assistance and provides the severely disabled with a caregiver. The state and local AIDS agencies are also losing considerable funding. "Government doesn't provide services to rich people," says Mike Genest, the state's finance director. So folks in California are going to be asked to help out - as well as being asked for money for gubernatorial candidates and the ballot initiative, to name just a few. Isn't that money better spent here than on a march on Washington that may not yield any tangible results?
At least one person agrees with me. This is from Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California:

It will take all of us being focused and doing everything we can to win marriage back in California. EQCA is focusing our resources on doing grassroots field work in California and being on the ground where the work needs to happen. That is what we need to do to win marriage back.

EQCA will also support our brothers and sisters in Maine and will encourage our volunteers to go to Maine in October to help them defeat their anti-marriage initiative in November 2009.

For people who are concerned about poverty and social and economic issues as I know David Mixner and Cleve Jones are - it seems an odd time to re-direct resources and attention without something close to an assured outcome.

Given their considerable talent for inspiring others, I would humbly request that David and Cleve consider shifting their attention to helping LGBT people, people with HIV/AIDS and our allies (labor, teachers, nurses) at the state and local levels survive this very difficult time while also pressing hard for full equality. Linking arms to confront the problems immediately before us only strengthens our sense of community as we all become foot soldiers marching to fulfill the promises of the American Dream.

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While I agree that a march on DC in 4 months is waaay too soon, I wouldn't cite Kors' position as a plus.

Does any blood run in his veins? Seriously...

Obama is just asking for a march and if we are gonna pool resources to make an impression it should be done well. Like maybe 2012 when he is in full re-election mode. Maybe economies will have improved or at least mellowed out. We will have time to get perspective after a wild marriage ride in the first half of 2009. The current wave of equality will not last much longer. We need to protect Maine and hopefully re-capture CA. We also need to give Obama time...not much time...that's not my main emphasis...but we do need to know that our message is clear (to people outside our circle) before we do this.

If I am going to beg, borrow, and steal to get to DC and raise hell, I don't want my time and money and energy wasted. Four months isn't enough. This is too important. Do it...but not in 2009.

Patrick - Last year, Robin Tyler called for a march on Washington in Nov. 2012 with the idea of telling the Democratic Party we want our rights and will withhold our votes until we get them This might strike fear in them since the Dems are hoping to improve their numbers in Congress.

Meanwhile - that may also be the year there is a ballot initiative to repeal Prop 8 here in California - if it doesn't go on the 2010 ballot.

From what I understand of the effort to mount a march this October - it won't be an "angry" march - more supplicant than demanding - so there's that, too.

I am unconvinced of the potential for positive political results from a DC march, but I do think they are important cultural events.

I attended one of the marches in the 1980s. I don't recall what year - must have been after 1984 when I graduated from high school. That march had a huge impact on me as a young 20ish gay guy from Buffalo NY. I never imagined what it would be like to be surrounded by so many of my peers. That weekend was overwhelming and enthralling...even more so than my arrest last week outside of City Hall in San Francisco.

Things have changed a great deal in the past 20 years, but maybe a march of the magnitude of the one I attended in the 80s would help further coalesece young LGBTS in middle America that are disenfranchised from their coastal brothers and sisters. After I attended the march I no longer felt isolated in Buffalo.

If a new march is called for - and I think it is an excellent way to tug the historical heart strings of our African American President - then I hope it can be arranged to have impact for us more than any impact we might make on scheming, shallow, and opportunistic politicians.

We need to take time and plan well and make it possible for as many people to attend as desire to be there.

christophe | June 1, 2009 10:58 AM

I heard about this yesterday, and if they have it I do want to go, I booked a room in Downtown D.C for that weekend. But I'll tell you the rates for DT hotels there are absurdly high. It would be better for each person planning on going to instead donate like $500 to the cause, instead of spending thousands to fly and then stay in a DC hotel 3 or 4 nights.

The era of marches on Washington is long since over. They are meaningful only to the participants. That counts for a lot, certainly, and can provide a huge boost. But it's not worth the many costs.

Karen, I agree with you 100 percent. In my opinion, we will not get more leverage with the administration by a March on Washington. Obama and his people are already aware that we are displeased with their performance. The religious conservatives aren't impressed by the size and number of our marches -- they believe that God is on their side.

Meanwhile, the resources that we'd spend on a D.C. March are desperately needed elsewhere.

Yes, thanks Patricia.

And as you well know - our LGBT kids and people with HIV/AIDS are going to be the invisible ones who suffer the most in this economy.

There is an on-going effort by the religious right to undermine all LGBT attempts to address school bullying and even use of the words "gay and lesbian" - let alone "transgender" in classrooms - and they have NO CLUE what to do with "bisexual."

So we've made progress - but as the recent Gallup Poll shows - there is always room for a backlash.

And - as the shooting of the abortion doctor yesterday indicates - we all need to be very vigilant about the lone wolfs out there determined to do "God's will" and eliminate us.

Why is it that when someone within the LGBT community tries to do something worthwhile, positive and noteworthy to try and change our current situation, others within the community always have to try to tear it down. If you don't wish to participate in the march, then don't. However, for those of us who think this is a great idea, then let us do what we think we need to do. We need to try and do things that are going to help everyone in the community, not just people in CA and ME. We need to let our elected officials know publicly that we are not happy with them and this is one way to do it. Go Cleve and David!

Douglas, no one is trying to tear down anything; we just happen to oppose a March on Washington for a variety of reasons.

This matters very much because these things reflect on all of us and it will affect all of us. Those of us who think it's a bad idea have a duty to say so.

All the others took up anything I could have possibly said about this wonderful piece.

Except: You're my ONE lesbian crush! I swoon every time I see a new post from you

Ah, shucks.
Thanks much. I'm blushing - my dogs don't notice.

Castigator | June 1, 2009 5:02 PM

Why can't we go to the National March, our local regional marches and donate money to LGBT people at risk as well? We don't have to turn the National March into a party or vacation that costs a bunch of money, we could find ways to network spare couches and make sandwiches and share transportation.

We don't need to reinvent the wheel on Civil Rights methodology, it might help if LGBT leaders read about the Civil Rights Movement and utilized their tactics and strategies and add those to the ways we use the internet and other modern communication technologies.

Karen, I agree 100%. Everything else notwithstanding, we could never get organized and/or save up money for a march that soon and I agree that there is no point in doing so when Congress is not in session. We can lobby our Federal Legislators in our home states--people just have to get off their duffs and do it.

I am the first person to say that repeal of DOMA and DADT and getting ENDA and the Hate-crimes act passed should be our FIRST priorities. But, that said, if those of us who cannot afford to march in Washington AND engage our state-wide battles put our time, money and effort into a march on Washington, we will lose too much ground on the state level (and to the person who said that we can do it if we don't turn it into a big party and over-spend--uh,no, actually, some of us have families to support and financially really can't do both). So to my mind, those of us in states where we have battles coming up and those of us who live nearby those states and can lend a hand, should do so--even if that means not marching on Washington. Lobbying our federal reps while they are in our home states and working on our state issues while we are in the state capitols is do-able for most people and much more cost effective.

I am well aware that this is not just about marriage, but pulling resources out of the state level battles on marriage would be like leaving the battlefield and heading off to open another front while our enemy is reloading; we stand to lose BOTH the battle and the war if we do that. Personally, I would be satisfied for the time being if we could affirm DP expansion here in Washington STATE, while working on federal issues; I understand federal issues all too well, but I am constantly reminded that every time we cross the state line into Idaho, we suddenly have no protection from discrimination; if my wife were to end up in a hospital(God forbid) they could find out that she is trans from her medical records and LEGALLY they would not be obligated to recognize her as a woman--and nothing we are fighting for on the national level would protect her from that type of discrimination.

Speaking of which,as a lesbian married to a transwoman, it is almost painful to me to have to point this out, but lobbying for inclusive ENDA and Hatecrimes legislation is going to take one-on-one meetings with our congresscritters by the wider LGBTQ and Allied communities--and in the mean time, while we are focusing on the federal level"big picture" and state marriage battles, many transfolk are in dire need of our help with state-level anti-discrimination laws (ENDA does not address housing or public accommodation), states that still won't change their birth certificates to reflect their confirmed gender, inclusive state-level anti-bullying measures, the Real ID Act (which is going to cause a hell o' mess for pre-op and non-op transfolk)...the list goes on and on, but you all get the idea. Transfolk benifit form all of the federal rights and protections we all seek, but those protections fall short--and most of us are so focused on the pitched battle over marriage that hardly anyone is talking or blogging about New Hampshire (where the senate unanimously rejected a bill that would have extended anti-discrimination laws to transgendered), NY (where the assembly is a toss-up), MA and more places that I can't even remember now.

Honestly, between the Zapata trial, our huge strides for equal marriage,Prop8, Decline petition for R-71 (here in Washington), I am in Information Overload Mode and its easy to forget the issues that get less media attention.

Douglas Gibson Jr | June 1, 2009 7:39 PM

The reason that failed was that the LGBT community fought about who would be in control of it, just like we fight over everything else. Why can't we all just learn to get along and work together?

Susan - thanks for the comment.

Someone else from Washington STATE noted that my original headline said we need foot soldiers in CA and Maine, not in Washington - and said that foot soldiers and funds are needed in Washington state to fight an expected repeal effort there - so I changed my headline to designate Washington DC.

You might consider writing a blog about how help is needed in Washington state....

Just a thought....

Can a gay man have a crush on you, too?

Intelligence, integrity, profound common sense, and a lack of shrillness get me hot and bothered.

Karen, I've followed, and admired, your extremely respectable journalism for years. You're a gem.

My thoughts on the concept of a new March on Washington are informed by having attended the 1993 March on Washington, which was, for those organizing and attending, a HUGE, big deal, a major effort, a major haul, majorly EXPENSIVE, and at times a major inconvenience (e.g., let's wait 5 hours in the sun for state x to march)....and that accomplished, politically, legislatively, or even culturally.... um....nothing.

This is called waste. And we can't afford to waste.

I respect and honor Cleve Jones and David Mixner, but I fear (1) they are stuck in old-school thinking (that was already old-school in 1993, which was for most people pre-internet); (2) they are clouded by nostalgia; and (3) well, their theories may be adulterated by a small touch of egomania.

Take it from someone close to Jones's and Mixner's generation: We have to use 2009+ tactics. We have to be smart, strategic, surgically targetted, nimble, flexible, facile, and effective. A big, huge, clumsy March on Washington would be, in my opinion, a collosal mistake, as it would be a collosal waste of resources, with about as much political/social impact as all previous Marches on Washington combined; to work out the math, that's ~0 (1979) + ~0 (1987) + ~0 (1993) + ~0 (2000) = ~0. (If you want, you can add the political/social impact of the Stonewall 25 march in NYC in 1994: Another ~0.)

I'm not trying to cynical. I'm trying to be reality-based. And smart. We have GOT to be smart.

And speaking of smart: Folks, listen to Karen.

Wow. Thank you for those VERY kind words. I'm not only blushing again, there are a few tingles.

But seriously - I really appreciate the comments. My work in and for the LGBT press is my contribution to "the movement" - done with the best journalistic standards, practices and fortitude I can muster. A story about me in the LA Weekly was entitled "Hard News as a Civil Right" - which I thought was kind of cool.

But I would say the same for my colleagues: we work hard for little pay and usually only hear from people when we've made mistakes. So when we get compliments, it's really heartening to know that we've been of some public service.

Thank you Very much.

All that said - I would suggest that the marches did have meaning for numerous individuals - myself included. I am still moved recalling the bravery of the lesbians and gays in the military who walked on stage in full uniform during the 1993 march - expecting Bill Clinton to lift the ban - but indicating to the whole world that LGBT people are just as patriotic as any other Americans. And of course - there was my friend Michael Callen singing "Love Don;t Need a Reason" - just months before he died.

But this year - I would suggest there are too many battles to fight in too many states and not enough money. I can't wait to have a march on Washington to CELEBRATE our equality.

Thanks again.

I was on the statewide planning for the first MOW in 1983 and attended in '87. By 1993 I felt the focus should be on the local level. Remember what happened right after the Prop 8 loss in CA - a wave of marches all over the country and across other major world cities. We should be taking advantage of our internet connections and the momementum that is building in the states. Coordinated marches on State Capitals would serve a better purpose than another MOW, IMO. Yes, there still is isolation, but most (if not all) the states have some statewide coalition and those who do not or are still growing could benefit from help by Nat'l orgs - NGLTF, HRC, and Stonewall Dems. Focus on the Congressmembers and the Senators in the districts where their votes are! That will get more attention from the political folks.

Karen, thank you so much for this thoughtful piece—better to ask the questions now before this gets too far. What I especially like about this is your sticking to factual issues, rather than looking at emotive things like many of us (including me) do.

I was especially struck by your points about the economic downturn. But I also wonder if there isn't a strategic risk: It seems to me that in the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, such a march could seem self-indulgent to the majority of Americans—the very people we need to win over. When people are losing their jobs, their homes, their healthcare—or are afraid they're about to—a bunch of angry gay people travelling to DC over issues that the majority frankly doesn't care much about, especially in these hard times, won't make them any more inclined to support us.

But, it looks like there can't be a march that weekend, anyway—or, at least, no rally on the Mall: The Mall is booked that weekend by three other groups so it's not possible to get a permit to use the Mall.

Isn't that a kick in the pants, as they used to say - re the NY Blade's report that the Mall is booked.

And I think you're right about how such a march might look to others - self-indulgent while so many are losing their jobs - as if some of the folks who have the time to march might have the time because they lost or were fired from their jobs!

Thanks for the comment.
Take care -
Karen O.

If you think it is a bad idea, come up with a way to make the idea better, like everyone supporting it, getting behind it and raising the money for it to happen. The LGBT community does a lot of good talking, but we don't seem to get much done. Let's do it!

I can't "get behind" something that I think is a bad idea—that's the whole point. I completely agree with you that we need to get things get done, but what specifically would another March "get done"? I guarantee that it will definitely make people feel great (I did, too, after the one I went to), but that feeling fades pretty quickly. Then what? Time, energy and money are spent with nothing "done".

If you can give me something—anything—concrete that would "get done" by a march on Washington, then maybe I could get behind it. But to me this looks exactly like all the other marches that have already happened, all of which failed to get anything done. In these hard economic times, I think it's a luxury we can't afford.

Now, if you want to talk about simultaneous action in 50 state capitals, that could be something entirely different.

While your concerns have validity, I wonder if you attended Meet in the Middle in Fresno, CA, this past weekend? As a resident of Fresno, this event gave our community hope, something that can never be taken away. Yes, a lot of resources and money were spent on the event, however, what will come out of it will be priceless.

I see the march on Washington as the next step in what momentum has surged after Prop 8 in California. There are more people involved now than ever before and it is events like this that give our movement a backbone.

As a few others stated, as a Californian left out of the Prop 8 campaign, we will push through this movement without the support of EQCA and it is not surprising that Geoff Kors does not back the march. EQCA has proven time and again that their only contribution is as a fundraising mechanism.

SallyQ -

I did NOT attend MITM or the Leadership Summit - I boycotted the event over the massive confusion of press access to the summit.

From what I can gather from people with whom I've spoken about the event -some thought it was disorganized - but most thought the rally was inspirational and that the summit was worthwhile. Among the latter in that group is longtime activist (going back to the Briggs Initiative) Diane Abbitt who was on one of the panels.

If you note, I did not address MITM or the summit but rather five reasons why a call for a march on Washington at this time should be re-considered. And, as it turns out, the Mall is booked that weekend anyway.

To be completely honest, as Simon Cowell might say, I am not sure I understand this on-going complete obsession with Equality California and Geoff Kors. The irony is that EQCA is the LGBT lobbying group pushing state Sen. Mark Leno's Harvey Milk Day bill - and tearing down the organization and its executive director is a gift to the opponents of that bill.

You have every right to criticize Kors and EQCA - but please offer constructive criticism so it can be useful to the movement going forward.

Thank you for your comment.

dr.c.holt bullock | June 14, 2009 2:13 AM

Apparently Ms. Ocamb does not understand politics nor the call for the march.

The fact that she is “stunned” by Obama’s hasty retreat from the support he promised, before we helped to elect him, shows she has little understanding of the way politics works in this country. How long will we have to wait until we have another President with the balls to do for victims of "Don't ask, Don't tell" what Harry S. Truman did for African-Americans in the military in 1948. An executive order is all that is necessary, not an act of Congress!

What is it that you seek Ms. Ocamb, marriage, or equality?! Your arguments all seem to be directed at justifying the right to marry; perhaps you should read the purpose of this march and stick to that topic. This march is for full equality for LGBT community members in ALL aspects of their lives. How dare you reduce this effort for equal rights recognition as “a three-day feel-good trip to Washington that few can afford to make” when, in reality, this is a trip that all members of our community can ill afford not to make. We “owe” this fight to future generations of American women and men.

To address Ms. Ocamb’s questions about the wisdom for a march now:

1. No, it would not be better to wait, we need to do this as soon as possible. Don’t you realize that the media in this country is responsible for public and therefore executive, legislative, and possibly even judicial opinion. When our elected officials see the masses of supporters descend upon Washington on every television station, hear about us on every radio station, and read about us in every newspaper, it will not matter if it is Columbus Day, Independence Day, or Christmas Day, they will have no choice but to hear our united voice. For “equal rights” we need only reach an audience of nine men and women, the Supreme Court.

If we wait for all of the factions of the “community” to weigh in, the march will never happen.

2. The four month-deadline and economic downturn affects our foes as much as ourselves, and may actually be in our favor. Many of those who oppose us will be fresh from family holidays, and summertime commitments, which could significantly reduce their resolve to counter-demonstrate. Hotels and flights will be cheaper for us at that time. And, as for who will pay for the set-up… well, we can all be assured it will not be you, not the naysayer’s. It will fall to us, the faithful, those who never say give up, the doers, the community members who want the next generation to have a more “equal” life than we have had to endure.

3. As for Maine and the possible repeal of their marriage equality act, and then New Jersey, and then, and then…. I guess you just do not understand constitutional law or the point of this march at all Ms. Ocamb. We need to bypass the years of delays by the several states and go directly to the Supreme Court, and go as often as is necessary to win our battle. Or shall we again suffer the indignities of the ERA, the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution was first proposed in the United States Congress in December 1923? It was promoted by Alice Paul and the National Women's Party. Even now, it remains unratified 86 years later. I don’t know about you Ms. Ocamb, but I am not willing to wait another 86 years.

4. Your prejudices in favor of California are showing Ms. Ocamb… more Proposition 8 rhetoric. I say abandon the issue of marriage equality in the states completely! Until the federal government recognizes marriage equality, we will all still have “less” than our heterosexual counterparts. Marriage equality should extend to all matters of taxation, inheritance, medical and funeral decisions, and immigration and naturalization. None of these can be conferred by the states (even if all 50 vote to redefine marriage) these can only be conferred by our federal government.

5. Yes, we are all suffering the effects of this economic downturn, and that is no joke. Anyone with knowledge of the workings of fund allocation would be aware that the easiest cutbacks are from those who are the most needy, the poor, the ill, and the true minorities who have little electoral value to politicians. Ms. Ocamb, if your concerns really are with the cuts in state health insurance, state welfare programs and AIDS agencies, why then are you not asking all Californians to forego the expense of a new Proposition 8 style ballot measure until times are better. The considerable amounts of money saved, by both parties to this debate, could then be given to those needy agencies, in a show of generosity, by fundraisers on both sides of the California marriage issue.

You close by acknowledging your support: “At least one person agrees with me… Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California.” I am so happy that you have one supporter Ms. Ocamb, I am also happy that it is not me.

I will close with my five reasons to march in Washington, D.C. in October:
1. God does not teach us to hate,
2. God does not teach us to discriminate,
3. God does not teach us bigotry,
4. God does not limit equality,
5. God does not take away our rights… Man does! And says he does it in the name of God!

Dr. C. Holt Bullock

Wow - thanks for the long response to this June 1 post.

Cleve - who I've know for quite some time - made some of these same points to me in a 45 minute conversation about what he really meant by calling for a march - especially that, at the time we spoke - it wasn't a "march" as we've historically considered it. Rather, he said, it was more like a beginning organizing tool.

Of course, since the horrendous motion by Obama's Dept. of Justice to dismiss a federal DOMA challenge, the march has taken on a whole new meaning. David Mixner even teased me to see if I'd changed my mind.

To be sure, if a march happens, I'll be there to cover it. I am, after all the news editor of the Southern California LGBT publication Frontiers in LA and many of the march organizers are from LA and/or California.

And being the news editor for an LA LGBT publicationt, Dr. Bullock, may explain my "prejudice" toward all things Californian and Prop 8 - which, BTW, is a HUGE story. The federal lawsuit filed by famed attorneys Ted Olson and David Bois to to find Prop 8 invalid under the US Constitution speaks to DOMA, for instance.

As to not understanding politics. Well, I'll leave that assessment up to you, as is your right. I would just note that I've been calling
out Barack Obama for some time now.

Check my posts here - http://www.bilerico.com/contributors/karen_ocamb/

or perhaps this one from May 4 - http://www.bilerico.com/2009/05/president_obama_-_give_us_an_lgbt_advoca.php

Or THIS one from Dec. 18, 2008 - when the country and many LGBTs were still totally smitten by the President-elect. This one is called "Obama's Vision - He Doesn't See Us." - http://www.bilerico.com/2008/12/obamas_vision_-_he_doesnt_see_us.php

As to the economy - last week Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed cutting $80.1 million in funding to HIV/AIDS programs - including ADAP. If the cuts are approved, that also jeopardizes
our Ryan White Care Act funding. There are also deep proposed cuts to SSI, housing, and a number of other government services people living with HIV (and other poor and vulnerable populations) need.

And yes - there is a hearty debate here over whether the community here can raise the necessary $20 million-plus for a ballot initiative in 2010 given the new AIDS funding crisis. I have been reporting about all of this - though not always in blogs since my primary duty is to my magazine.

My point in these blogs is to raise questions to help further a dialogue - which both Cleve Jones and David Mixner have acknowledged and appreciated. It apparently stirred you - which is a good thing.

Thank you for engaging.

Dr. C. Holt Bullock Dr. C. Holt Bullock | June 14, 2009 1:04 PM

Thank you Karen for acknowledging my response to your article of June 1, and my right to disagree with your platform. I hope that you did not find my criticisms too biting, as that was not my intent. I think as time goes by, we will find that we will agree on many more issues than those that cause us disagreement.

I was in San Diego when the California Supreme Court took away our rights; I marched with my community there from Balboa Park to City Hall; I heard the roar of our united voices; and I was proud. I was in Fresno for the Meet in the Middle Walk and Rally, where I was both inspired by the words I heard and disappointed by many others. California was my childhood and adult home for 40 years, and California gave me the resolve to fight this fight to it's rightful conclusion. I am currently living in Southern Oregon, but am in the process of making the transition to San Diego this month, where I know all the budget cuts will affect me directly.

As a man who has been living with HIV/Aids and all of its life altering effects for the past 28 years, I truly sympathize with your efforts with regards to the economy of California; and on behalf of the various program cuts that seem so imminent. I do not mean to trivialize any of those issues you raised, but feel that the issue of LGBT equal rights is a separate issue that needs to be treated as such.

We have the power, as a significantly large minority population (12% to 15% = 36,720,000 to 45,900,000), to appreciably affect the outcome of any national election. We just need to find cohesiveness, perhaps a national rally will be the catalyst that begins the process of our unification. If we can muster the support of only one in a hundred of us (about 400,0000) and each bring a friend or family member, we can approach that magic number, one million for equality.

I truly believe in what the new marriage initiative is seeking to accomplish, but deeply feel that this is a national issue, and needs to be addressed as such. A marriage at the state level will still not let me live happily ever after with someone if he is not a citizen of the U.S.. I want that right! I want all of the rights I have been so long denied. I have waited for 60 years, I don't want to wait any longer.

I hope to see you when I am in Washington, D.C. in October.

With sincere respect and appreciation for the work you do for our community,


Dr. C. Holt Bullock Dr. C. Holt Bullock | June 14, 2009 2:16 PM

When are we going to get serious about equal rights? I read all of the comments as to why we should not converge on Washington, all of the reasons not to go.

When are we going to have the guts as a minotity group to say we have had enough of this segregation, this discrimination, this hate, and this bigotry? When do we get to begin to live 'our' lives, the lives we were born to live?

Ask yourself if you really want to be equal.

If you can truly say yes to that question, then you will have only one response when asked if you will march, if you will fight the fight, if you will go to Washington. You will say YES, over and over again, YES, for as long as it takes.

You will go to D.C. this year, and next year, and every year after that until we gain our rights. You will do all that is necessary to get you to Washington. You will scrimp and save; dig deeply into your pockets; beg, borrow, (but please don't steal); and you will enlist the aid of others in this fight. You will decide that a new outfit, a vacation on the beach, even a new car, is not as important to you as this struggle. You will go to Washington, walk with your brethren, raise your voices in unity, lie in the streets in protest, and boycott all businesses and churches everywhere that discriminate against us. You will make our united voice so loud that it will surely be heard in the halls of Congress, the Judiciary, and the Whie House; the cry will deafen our detractors, and we will accomplish the change we seek.

You have a choice, you can choose the level of your involvement, you can decide to stay at home and watch, or you can show the world that you are dedicated to our battle for equality. Join me for equality, join me in October, join me and truly begin to LIVE your lives!