Joe Mirabella

Does the Democratic party hate us?

Filed By Joe Mirabella | March 20, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal, ENDA, GetEqual, health care reform, Kip Williams, robin mcgeehee, Washington D.C.

Lost in the shuffle during Thursday's courageous acts by GetEqual members, was this update on the Health Care bill gagging itself through Congress:

Today, the House Rules Committee released the reconciliation bill through which it will vote on the measure that passed the Senate in December. We are deeply disappointed that, after months of lobbying for their inclusion, important measures specifically addressing the needs of LGBT people and people with HIV - ending the unfair taxation of employer-provided domestic partner health benefits, permitting states to offer early HIV treatment under Medicaid, collecting critical health data on LGBT people and addressing discrimination in health care - are not a part of this bill.

It was part of the House bill last November, so what happened? Does the Democratic party hate us?

HRC was not clear in their reporting of the story, but I'm willing to offer a hypothesis.

Like every LGBT equality issue staring down Congress from ENDA, to the repeal DADT, and the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), and the repeal of DOMA -- our alleged allies are not really our allies.

During the immigration reform summit I attended with Bil and several other amazing journalists in New York several weeks ago our so called progressive allies made it abundantly clear they were not going to explicitly include us in immigration reform. If they did, they would lose the support of the Catholic Church. Translation, no UAFA . We would have to do that on our own, we were told.

This week the Catholic Hospitals Association announced support for the Health Care bill. Do you think that had anything to do with the omission of key lgbt provisions? I do. I think the Democratic Party sacrificed us once again to appease the Catholics, and if not the Catholics, than someone who hates our families.

That's right, the Democratic party would prefer to side with groups that hate us.

The Democratic party leaders are very comfortable leaving us on the cutting room floor. It is undeniably clear that there are enough votes to pass ENDA in the House, but they won't do it.

The majority of Americans support a repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, but soldiers have to chain themselves to White House fences to be heard.

Thoughts of repealing DOMA are not even on the horizon. No one thinks that's happening any time soon. Maybe through the Supreme Court. Maybe.

So, fuck yeah, I'm glad people are risking their freedom through acts of civil disobedience. Being Mr. Nice Gay does not seem to work at the federal level. I'm beginning to think the only way we'll ever get our rights is to be so annoying that Congress wants to vote us away. Since they won't be able to put us on trains to lock us away (our transportation system couldn't handle it) they're going to have to vote us away.

If you don't want to be annoyed, bugged, pestered, protested, called, e-mailed, or sat-in, I have a simple suggestion, give us what we want. Give us our inalienable rights. Give us our freedom. Give us our equality. Do it now.

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"I'm glad people are risking their freedom through acts of civil disobedience. Being Mr. Nice Gay does not seem to work at the federal level. I'm beginning to think the only way we'll ever get our rights is to be so annoying that Congress wants to vote us away."

"Risking their freedom?" Overnight?

Annoyance will lead to victory? How's that worked for Pro-lifers? They're very annoying and disruptive and even engage in civil disobedience. How's that worked for them? Did pro-choice people accomplish anything after 37 years of coordinated annoyance?

I fully understand this idea of "making demands." That is the basis for Choi and the GetEqual stunts. But, here's the problem:

A Demand needs an accompanying THREAT.

What THREAT does GetEqual have? Volume? What are the consequences when LGBT demands are not met? If we are ignored, as has been the case for decades, what's next? Violence? When Blacks had "non-violent" marches in the 60s they carried baseball bats. That "picture" was threatening. Our country at the time was terrified about riots and violence. That was a THREAT. What's our threat?

That is the big problem with GetEqual and its predecessors, EqualityAcrossAmerica, JoinTheImpact, EqualityNetwork and on and on and on. Demands are not enough and i'm afraid annoyance isn't going to create any fear or compassion for our plight.

Demands without threats are like opinions without solutions – they may garner some attention, but they don't provide any results.

SarasNavel | March 20, 2010 3:12 PM

"opinions without solutions"

AndrewW, of all people, you DO see the supreme irony in your opinion...right?

All of this reminds me of the sign in front of BMTS Barracks. It read:"Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way."

So, what was it you were saying about effective?

Chitown Kev | March 20, 2010 2:56 PM


I think that "hate" is too strong a word.

Well...some Democrats DO hate us.

I think that overall, our community is inconvenient to the Democratic Party.

And in someways I find that even more insulting than the outright hatred of most in the Republican Party (but at least you know where they're coming from).

My $.02.

A. J. Lopp | March 20, 2010 5:12 PM

Of the various comments here, I agree with Chi-Kev the most.

The Dem's don't hate us, they want our support, but they know our sector is relatively small (no larger than 10% max) and they are cut-throat pragmatic politicians --- they will dump us in a flash if there is any chance we will mean the difference between success and failure. Same for transpeople. (Sorry, transpeople.)

But OTOH, there are elections where our possible 10% of extra votes can mean victory for them ... so they will continue to sweet-talk us for as long as we will pay attention to them, and especially if the exit poles show that we are voting their way.

Case at hand --- the Dem's dumped us because the segment of Catholic voters is bigger. (However, I question whether the segment of Catholic voters who pay attention to what the Vatican says is bigger --- but what is important is the way that the Dem's count their beans, not the way we count the beans.)

It has NOTHING to do with ideology or loyalty. It's all in the political calculations.

I think what happened is this:

(1) The House passed a bill containing the desired LGBT provisions.

(2) The Senate passed a bill without the desired LGBT provisions.

(3) Many Senators who voted for the Senate bill thought the LGBT provisions would be put in the conference bill.

(4) Because the Democrats no longer have enough Senators to overcome a filibuster, there will be no conference. Instead of a conference, there will be the reconciliation process, during which the House must accept the previously passed Senate bill with amendments that are permitted under the reconciliation rules.

(5) Under the reconciliation rules, the only matters that can be added to the Senate bill are those that have significant budgetary impact.

(6) The LGBT provisions do not have sufficient budgetary impact to be part of the reconciliation process.

What Steve said. Let's get the facts straight first. It's not so much that Democrats "hate us", it's the procedures of Congress during this process worked against us. If it was the House, and not the Senate, version that was being reconciled, LGBT provisions most certainly would have been there.

Bingo Steve. This isn't about LGBT issues. This is about an extremely fucked up process that is not pretty- but that we are stuck with.

The LGBT omission is an unfortunate byproduct.

The "T" stuff was removed from HCR months ago - where was the indignation and outrage?. Funny how many GLB folks who had no problem in 2007 with ENDA are wetting themselves over being thrown under the health care bus (talking about, americablog, etc)

The way that the Democratic Party is treating LG people does seem an awful lot like how a lot of the main cis LG "activist" groups treat B and T people, doesn't it?

Angela Brightfeather | March 20, 2010 6:33 PM

You fight on all fronts!!!

I have been saying for some time that we need to make the use of our anger by planning actions that will get their attention and with the mid-terms coming up, we need to be getting our groups to sit down and get a grip on this and start leading, instead of acting like a bunch of scared rabbits and getting outflanked by the hounds.

You first have to start witht he fact that niether party has any problem with telling us to wait, if not telling us to forget about it.

The threat we have to offer comes from a well devised plan to press them on all levels for a prolonged period of time and at risk 10% of every election coming up. It's a given that most elections at any level are won or lost by a margin of 10% or less. We have to marshall all our forces and go after the fact that they have given us nothing that we have asked for, only what they deem as unimportant enough not to affect their bottom line. Certainly not anything that anyone in the GLBT community beleives is worth going to jail for, like the recognition of gay imimigrants. WOW! I understand that there may be a few people who are happy about that, but it sure didn't rock my world that much.

They are aware that we have no rallying point to launch a concerted effort. No common cause that emerges from a community that continues to throw it's own people under the bus. GLB's throw the T's. DADT is more important than ENDA, ENDA is more important than DOMA and the people who pack each issue is willing to put themselves first in line. That is not only pretty evident, it is ahppening as we speak and already happened with the T's.

If the people who we pay to lobby, fight in DC on behalf of our rights and issues, fails to not warn all of us about the issues that were in the Health Bill and now are not, then let us know, What are we putting our faith and money in? The bill has been out of the Senate and sitting in the House for some time now. Either Frank, HRC and others in DC we count on to inform us about this type of thing are not keeping track of our interests, or they got bought of with something else and convinced not to tell us for some pittance after the bill passes. In any event we should find out what the deal is and be pretty irate for being considered so stupid as to think that thre woll could be pulled over our eyes so easily.

The blame for this little "oversight" lies int he hands that we feed and support to be there in DC, as well as the politicians we help to get elected.

audrey here has hit on the other element missing from this discussion: it is possible to win by either purchasing the support or withholding enough money to frighten a candidate.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | March 21, 2010 5:21 PM

"Does the Democratic party hate us?

It doesn't matter.

Democrats and their Republican cousins are “interested’ in their constituents only to the extent that they can be counted on to vote for them and secure a place for them at the trough in the DC pig pen.

They’re in politics for the money and power to influence events for their patrons, who are exclusively the looter class. It’s all very Roman (in the time of the Republic) and was designed to be so by the framers of the Constitution, a class of American looters and smugglers who chafed under the prospect of paying taxes to the Brits and went to war to stop 'taxation without representation'.

The key question for us is how we relate to this.

One strategy, a loser strategy, says stay in one of the two parties of the looter class and play by their rules. That’s the approach of LGBT Democrats and Republicans has, after 40 plus years of activism, produced little of substance except, as Martha would say, a ‘generous plentitude’ of betrayals. This lame strategy always leads to submissively voting for the lesser evil and kowtowing to the politics of accommodationism and assimilationism.

The better strategy is to approach elections for what they are – a sham to disguise the naked greed of the looter class. Elections and the ‘political process’ should be used use them to educate ourselves and others about strategies to end their rule. It consists of an emphasis on militant mass action around a program that raises totally reasonable demands which cannot be met without challenging the rule of the looter class.

The ‘good news’ is that large numbers of LGBT folks, trade unionists and activists from many communities are beginning to reject the clueless politics of working for change in the Republican and Democrat parties.

Squeaky wheels get grease. The LGBT community do not make too much noise so it is very easy for them to ignore us.