Alex Blaze

Arranging the Homosexual Agenda

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 07, 2009 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: DOMA, Don't Ask Don't Tell, ENDA, hate crimes legislation, John Aravosis, Michael Crawford, polling survey, UAFA

For reasons I'll explain after the jump, I was thinking last night that someone should ask this question in a poll. Why can't that someone be me here on TBP? It isn't scientific, but I don't think any legit polling outfit can or will poll queer people on this question. (Please keep yourself honest and respond only once.)

I've been seeing a few people on other site, the same folks who got more riled up than most when the DOJ released that homophobic brief defending DOMA, actually get upset that Congress is working on ENDA. I've seen it from quite a few people, but it was a sentiment best encapsulated by John Aravosis while responding to a Steve Hildebrand (despite Aravosis's assertion that Hildebrand's writing could be used as "tea leaves" to parse the White House's support for various legislation, Hildebrand doesn't work for Obama or the White House) Huffington Post entry talking about how much good ENDA, the Safe Schools Improvement Act, and hate crimes legislation would do for LGBT people:

Second, the three big gay rights priorities that Congress should be focusing on do not even include what have organically become the community's top two priorities: repealing DOMA and Don't Ask Don't Tell. They're not even mentioned in the Obama deputy's essay.

At least he's addressing the fact that there's other LGBT legislation out there, unlike some other prominent queers who've talked about DOMA and DADT as if they were the only LGBT bills that exist.

But I'm still wondering how Aravosis is asserting that DADT and DOMA are "the community's top two priorities." Does he have a poll to support that claim? Doubtful. Most likely, he's referring to the informal poll he's been conducting for months of his DC gay buddies. But there's a huge difference between Aravosis's friends' and colleagues' legislative priorities and queer people's general priorities. I shouldn't have to mention that DC is a... special place.

It's not an uncommon trap for LGBT people to fall in, though, thinking that the people they know in real life who are out are, in fact, representative of the US's entire LGBT population. People get cloistered. I understand. If I were to go by my LGBT friends, I'd say ENDA and HIV/AIDS funding are our top priorities. If I had to go by what I've seen on this site, I'd say DADT repeal and ENDA are the top priorities. People here seem to understand that DOMA repeal isn't going to happen until some of the more basic and more popular pieces of legislation get passed, and pushing for it now at the expense of things like ENDA is really just putting the cart before the horse.

And that's the point of the poll before the jump. Michael Crawford put up a similar poll way back in the day before Obama was elected into office and got some serious flack from people who disagreed with the fact that we'd be getting a limited amount of loving from the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats. Recent events, though, have proven him right in that regard.

Moreover, prioritizing was always going to happen, if not by Congress then by our advocacy groups. And instead of a few A-gays in DC deciding what the priorities are based on how them and their buddies live, I'd much rather everyone participate in that process.

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Erich Riesenberg | July 7, 2009 1:16 PM

"And instead of a few A-gays in DC deciding what the priorities are based on how them and their buddies live, I'd much rather everyone participate in that process."

I don't think the A-gay groups are going to pay a lot of attention to people other than their donors.

For those of us who care about other issues, it would be helpful if some of the posts on this site talked about how to do that.

The only gay group I currently support is Trinity Shelter in NYC. I would love to know more about it.

Great to see your helping to prioritize the issues, Alex.

With the histogram, is there a way to add the number of votes, alongside the percentages?


Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | July 7, 2009 2:36 PM

It seems to me that although the poll results may provide a particular snapshot at a particular point in time by a particular segment of a particular population (however defined), it's not much more than that.

It also raises questions like: Is this a one-person one vate exercise? Should the person who never gives a dime or a second of time to a cause have a say in formulating priorities?

They are probably fun in increasing readership (and I know that's extremely important in this business) but sadly, I fear, not much else.

i hope no one mistakes this for a scientific poll, and I doubt they will. It's meant to:

1. Show that priorities vary depending on whom you ask.
2. Get people to think about what's important for them.
3. Provide a fun exercise to see what fellow readers think.
4. Help me know where the people who don't comment on this site but read it (the majority of readers don't comment) are coming from.

But, no, not a scientific poll. And I doubt the ability to do that or to have any system of one person/one vote when it comes to priorities. As Erich points out, the only vote people get in orgs' agendas, really, is by donating.

Great idea, Alex! If only we could get a real gay agenda poll... I think one of the reasons Aravosis mentioned DOMA and DADT is because those two seem to have gotten the most media coverage, both from more established outlets (LGBTQ and not) and from a lot of the newer "grassroots" activists. I think some serious community education is needed to make sure people even know that these issues (and their possible solutions) exist. Now, how to do that...

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | July 8, 2009 1:19 AM

What Alex’s poll tells me is that we have a program, an agenda, with many critical items that address the role of bigotry by cults and political leaders.

The key motives of people anxious to prioritize flows from their understanding that the White House and Congress will never stop pandering to bigots and that many of them are bigots themselves. That creates the urge to prioritize, to throw all our efforts behind this or that agenda item in the (vain) hope of getting it past the bigots and bigot panderers.

The alternative is to build a militant, mass action movement, democratically organized, to push our whole agenda, prioritizing as the situation demands or allows, but not to the exclusion of part of our agenda. Excluding part of our agenda because it's too controversial and causes the liberal panderers and bigots to run for the hills is wrong, although that is what some propose in the case of the fight to defend and extend Same Sex Marriage.

The bigotry of Clinton, Bush, Obama, Palin and other opponents of SSM should have no effect on our priorities.

The title: "Arranging the Homosexual Agenda." I won't take the "survey" because of that. You are a very accepting man, Alex. How about asking a trans person to list their priorities.

Actually, a survey about transgender priorities sounds like a great idea. Maybe one of the trans contributor would like to do that. I'll see who wants to do it.

I meant the title as a term of art, personally I don't even identify as homosexual. I just plain don't like the word. The question, "Which of the following bills should be Congress's top priority?" was open to everyone, even the occasional homophobe who trolls this site.

I took the title as a parody of how wackaloon religious fundies often refer to the LGBTQIA movement(s)' push for equality - you know, "the homosexual agenda" or "the gay agenda."

The issues that are listed in the poll are relevant to all queer communities. A decision not to participate for any reason is absolutely valid. However, I think that being an out member of a group that is often overlooked by those with privilege makes your potential vote in this poll especially valuable. Ours are the voices that need to be heard.

...Though I'll admit that the effectiveness of participation in a system with which we're displeased (vs. organizing our own action outside of that system) is totally debatable :)

Rick Sours | July 8, 2009 7:12 AM

This article clearly shows that there are so many
issues that need to be addressed before ALL members
of the LGBT community have achieved full equality
in the United States of America. I did vote for an
issue which I felt would have the greatest impact on the entire LGBT community if addressed now.

That being said; for each member of the LGBT
community the issues may be different depending
on one's own individual situation.

For my Partner and myself, the individual issue
of greatly importance to us is benefits for federal

Excellent post, Alex. As a practicing homosexual, I can't believe that 55% of my confreres think so little of my right to hold a job. My wife absolutely insists on my having a job. Where are the capitalists when you need them?

I voted for ENDA because it is the most fundamental. As long as an LGBT person can be fired just for being LGBT, none of the other issues are significant.

Passing ENDA will have the broadest impact.

Not only will it help our TBLG community, you can make the argument that it helps straight Americans as well.