Bil Browning

Don't Miss This: LGBT Leadership Town Hall Today

Filed By Bil Browning | April 22, 2010 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Aubrey Sarvis, Joe Solmonese, LGBT rights, Mara Keisling, Michelangelo Signorile, Pam Spaulding, Rea Carey, Richard Socarides, town hall meeting

Don't forget that Michelangelo Signorile is hosting an LGBT Leadership Town Hall today. The event will be broadcast live via Sirius XM Radio channel 109 from 2pm - 4pm Eastern. If you are not a subscriber to Sirius XM you can get a free 7-day pass and listen online. Participants include:

Solmonese is currently stuck in Europe due to the Icelandic volcano eruption, but will be joining the town hall via satellite feed from London.

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All participants must answer the following question:

HOW and WHEN will we achieve our full equality?

They must also agree to embrace accountability for ALL tactics, methods, strategies and organizations.

Until we do those two things we will NOT ignite a real, sustainable movement. Time is of the essence.

I just can't resist saying that Joe's dilemma is the first good news I have heard about the Icelandic volcano's effects.

AMEN Deena.

Still waiting on that date for ENDA mark-up AndrewW.

It was tentatively scheduled for April 28th while the Whip Count was underway. Polis attempted to explain that to protesters.

Now, it's in GetEqual "limbo."

Now how did that happen? They tentatively scheduled it but told no one? Cite your source please.

Oh, its a God thing huh?

No, "confidentialty" is a good thing.

I think that the whole Iceland volcanoe thing and Joe being stuck in London is very symbolic of HRC and his leadership. They are out of it and only calling it in from afar.

And as usual AndrewW has commented but will not like anything anyone says if I have to guess. How can one be accountable if nothing is ever tried?

thanks for the link bil- looking forward to listening to the forum...

Aaarrrggghhh...Sirius is not sending me a password for free 7-day trial. any advice? Others having trouble? I'm new at this...

You could become a paying subscriber and stop being a freeloader. Life is not all about raising funds for NGLTF and your Creating Change mettings at 4 star hotels. Your CEO is speaking and I would think you would be happy to join Sirius. It's not expensive.

Wow. Just, wow.

And I'm the one with the rep for being rude?

Rude? We have to support our brothers and sisters in the private commercial sector also. Sirius offers a valuable resource and forum on important LGBT issues, not only Signorile but Rosie O'Donnell and others. They say and do things that timid D.C. beltway non profit orgs don't.

The First Hour:

20 minutes on "letter grades" for the President and Congress, followed by 40 minutes of complaining. Nothing on a "path forward" or any strategies to win.

At the end of the hour Solmonese asked if "we were going to get around to figuring out what we need to do for this so-called "path forward?" He mentioned the need to get six US Senators to support us.

... followed by silence and then commercial break.

Nothing but a classic Joe deflection. Lets get it to the house floor and tackle the Senate as a separate issue. Personally I'd like to see everyone who is on that leadership townhall disrupt the Senate hearings. Now that would be stepping out. MLK Jr. would have done it.

Carey from the NGLTF:

"We printed 200,000 stickers to Queer-the-Census."

For 200 million US households? Excellent.


Solmonese from HRC:

After getting to name the six troublesome US Senators he then promised "he wouldn't bring it up again."

Yes, please don't bring up the problem again. This was followed by more complaining about the activists and the big LGBT organizations. So far, Solmonese is the only one to try to focus the conversation on figuring out what we need to do.


Robin McGeehee from GetEqual:

Robin asked Solmonese "what HRC was doing to get DADT repealed and if it wasn't repealed this year would he resign because of he can't lead he needs to get the Hell out of the way?"

Solmonese responded that it has always been the plan to put the repeal of DADT in the Defense Authorization Bill. He mentioned the six US Senators again (broken promise) and said they needed to be "moved" to support us." He didn't call for Robin to resign.


There are only 30 minutes left and I am still expecting some sort of GetEqual chanting.

I'm listening too. I hope they don't get sore arms patting themselves on their collective backs. Now here's Joe equivocating again. Sorry if I sound cynical but I have watched this process for decades.

Carey from NGLTF and Pam Spalding just repeated a question about the LGBT Community and Aids.

No answers to the question or any suggestions, they just restated the question.


Caller from Chicago (LGBT Change) asking how to end the "divide" in our community and/or HOW can we bring people together?

Mara Keisling told us about his office space in DC that they "share." Nice.

Pam Spalding would rather get a "joint-press relase instead of hundreds."

Question went unanswered.


Queer Rising NY asked about an event planned for a Demonstration in May and who supported it?

Solmonese didn't know about it. Carey supports it. Aubrey Sarvis from SLDN supports it. Pam Spalding supports it.


Don from ActOnPrinciples asked why we haven't already started on getting those "six US Senators?"

Solmonese got to mention the six US Senators again. He said HRC was very transparent.

Aubrey said "call everyone" whether or not they already support us. Said ActOnPrinciples Whip Count wasn't helpful.


DC caller asked about HRC's $30 million a year and questioned HRC's credibility.

Solmonese said he still believes we are still going to repeal DADT this year. Pam Spalding said "donors" believed his promise that it would get done. She called Solmonese a liar. Solmonese called her comments "insulting to members of HRC." He then went back to "how" are we going to spend the next 6 weeks? What do we need to do? He reminded everyone that this Town Hall was about what do we need to do.

Aubrey added we "don't have the votes." He then asked "what's the Path?" No answers.

Just 15 minutes to go and only Solmonese has been asking about "the Path."

John Aravosis said SLDN hasn't been invited to the White House. He wants to know why HRC gets to go and doesn't bring SLDN?

Solmonese said he wasn't at the meetings. Aubrey said he was at some meetings, but not all of them. He will now be invited to all the meetings.


The crowd acknowledged that the President wasn't "happy" after the GetEqual stunt at Boxer's fundraiser.

The focus went to "put pressure" on the White House with no explanation as to why that would help.


Last question. Does Solmonese regret the Kathy Griffin event? Who's idea was it?

Kathy Griffins idea. We did a rally for "people who like Kathy Griffin." He didn't mention anything about Dan Choi or handcuffs.


That's all.

During two hours with the so-called "Leadership" of the LGBT Advocacy groups and a bunch of Activists there was no mention of any tactics, strategies or any kind of "path forward." There was no discussion about accountability. Nobody dared speak about "winning."

Except for Robin McGeehee who asked for Solmonese to resign and "get the hell out of the way" if DADT is not repealed this year - everyone pretty much congratulated each other. For what, I'm not sure.

There was nothing productive about this meeting/show. Nothing.

Chitown Kev | April 22, 2010 4:16 PM

AndrewW, since you seem to have about as many answers about our "winning" as you accused the panelists of our forum let me ask you a question; anyone else can chime in on this question.

What does "winning our equality" look like to you?

Thank-you for the question Kevin.

Winning our equality means people believe we are equal. That doesn't need to be everyone, but enough people to achieve our political objectives and/or laws (if necessary).

Two-thirds of our fellow citizens will support our full equality, but we are NOT focused on demonstrating that fact. Our movement does not have an effort to achieve that. Instead we either become self-proclaimed activists and we try to raise some hell, or we lobby politicians with the expectation THEY will deliver our equality. For 5 decades that is what we've been doing - it hasn't worked, although there has been some progress.

If we figured out how to demonstrate that we are not a weak minority, but rather a strong majority - those who support equality, we would no longer be worried about "those six US Senators," the waffling White House, or any other "political" challenges.

That is winning. We need to get people to join us. We don't do that by arguing, demanding, lobbying or playing politics - we accomplish that by asking. Neighbors, freinds, co-workers - everyone. We need to create a the methods to accomplish that and demonstrate it, something I've been funding for the past 9 months.

Creating our equality is our job. Not Joe Solmonese or Robin McGeehee or anyone else that has appointed themselves a "Leader." It is OUR job.

Oh, if we do this, it will take less than 2 years. There are a lot of details, but I hope I answered your question.

@Chitown Kev....'winning our equality' to me it means GLBT rights codified into federal law with severe financial penalties for violations of them.

It means to me full integration of TBLG peeps into society with a constitutional ban on using referenda to take away people's civil rights.

It means to me trans people's murders being prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and if hate crimes statutes are applicable, prosecutors doing so without hesitation.

It means GLBT people being able to serve the nation in our military without fear of being discharged because someone discovers they have a same gender lover or they are trans.

It means to me that people are able to marry (or divorce) the person they love without drama or restrictions

And finally it means that the fundies keep their false conservareligious doctrine out of my life, the nation's politics, and the lives of GLBT people.

Chitown Kev | April 22, 2010 4:39 PM

I really like this answer, Monica (although I've rarely seen a divorce happen without "drama") :)

Laws don't create equality. Laws didn't end racism.

You have described mostly "protections," that really aren't protection but a way to exercise recourse for discrimination. Ending bigotry, like ending racism means erasing it from society - that's when equality is possible.

If we believe ending racism and bigotry (for the majority of Americans) isn't possible, then by default we'll take laws to enable recourse.

Racism existed in two-thirds of the American population 50 years ago - today it is less than one-third. Bigotry is headed down a similar path. IF we recognize that reality and focus our attention on ending it, two-thirds of our fellow citizens will support our full equality.

I'd rather have people support us and our equality, than laws that don't really protect us.

Chitown Kev | April 22, 2010 5:17 PM

Uh, racism isn't over, by the way AndrewW. Or you must not pay any attention to Tea Party protests.

And laws do a great deal to make sure that there is a price to be paid for bigotry in many areas.

Laws serve to stigmatize the bigotry. It doesn't erase it or eradicate from society.

It's not as if when we attain our "equality" homobigotry will disappear from America.

If you read my answer, "one-third of Americans" are still infected with racism. It continues to decline. I have no evidence to suggest that it will "never" disappear from society.

Laws, if they enable severe punishment, may serve to deter discrimination, but those who want to discriminate figure out to do it anyway. (Speeding laws occasionally slow me down and sometimes they make me choose different routes).

Sure, we should punish bad behavior, but our winning is more closely related to embracing good behavior by enrolling fellow citizens that are not racist or bigoted.

Chitown Kev | April 22, 2010 5:42 PM

Well, you enroll enough of those citizens so that their representatives will pay a political price for NOT enacting equality under the law.

It's not an either/or thing.

And you can't tell me that racial bigotry would not have been deterred without laws being in place; indeed it was the lack of the protection of the law that allowed racial bigotry to thrive.

Which is also why I feel that it's ignorant for people to suggest that gay equality organization will no longer be necessary once all protections under the law are attained. Now their misson may change but they will still be necessary.

What you do have right though is the fact that our equality has to be about them as well as us.

I'm glad I asked you this question.

I don't disagree, although I would suggest that laws are a deterrent and they probably stifle some behavior because of the risk of punishment. The laws don't change the minds, but they deter behaving on those thoughts.

Racism ends as racists die. Bigotry ends as bigots die.

Old ideas die hard. There has been significant social change as demonstrated by the beliefs of young people today. I credit understanding and education, wherever that came from, with most of the social change.

Chitown Kev | April 22, 2010 8:08 PM

Well, Andrew, it's called "acting your way into right thinking."

That's what laws can do.

Very rarely do people "think their way into right acting."

The parents of young folks today probably had to do a lot of the former and now their kids "think" non-homophobic thoughts...well, most of them.

That makes sense.

I think it's also related to the "teaching" that homosexuals are wrong, whether by the source - religion, or the believers that teach their children. At one time the Bible was used to support racism, too.

Stonewall Girl Stonewall Girl | April 23, 2010 1:09 AM

Andrew and Monica,
I think you both have it right. Yes, we need all the laws, but for any of it to really work we must have a basic cultural change. That takes time and "all" TBLG or any which way you want to scramble the letters together, we must work together on all levels to achieve "respect" in our culture. It is obviously much easier said than done, and it is going to be a heck of a lot more than just the beltway organizations actually working together. We also need folks at the grassroots level coming out of closets and becoming part of the political infrastructure! ... and working on different levels from all aspects that affect us and working toward the goals that Monica articulated.

I remember bitching to Barney (before the 2007 ENDA fiasco when he still was speaking to me) about the lack of a unifying leader for LGBT rights! I'm going to paraphrase, but he basically said "if you don't like whats going on, don't wait around, do it yourself"

Hell I'm certainly not waiting for HRC or anyone else ... just trying to push and be proactive ... and realistic.

We need to be a focused positive force that rewards friends, punishes enemies and is feared by all!

Kevin, Monica, Deana and Deena:

Thank-you for your comments in this thread.

Today's meeting was heralded as an important conversation about the future of our movement and an effort to define the "Path Forward." It was neither.

I bothered to share segments about today's broadcast because Sue couldn't get her free trial to work. She was interested in what should have been a serious discussion about our struggle. I think we should ALL be interested in any discussion about our future. I wish more people were able to witness today's silly charade because they would understand how pitiful our movement really is. We are screwed if today's LGBT "Leaders" are supposed to figure out how and when we can win.

What became very clear early in the program is that it was NOT about a "Path Forward," but rather a "Bitch at Solmonese-HRC Festival." I am no fan of Solmonese or HRC and I actually do not think they are necessary for our Movement to succeed. But, Solmonese ended up being the only one in the meeting that repeatedly tried to focus the conversation on the topic - the supposed "path forward."

Early in the meeting he identified our biggest problem - the US Senate. He was finally allowed to name the six US Senators he believes are critical to the passage of "anything LGBT-related." He got NO response from the other "leaders." No matter what problem we have with either Solmonese or HRC, HE nailed it. Nobody cared.

A call from Chicago regarding the huge division in our community (loosely described as the big guys versus the activists) was mostly ignored.

During two hours of childish banter about "not being invited to a meeting" or "will Solmonese resign if DADT isn't repealed" the focus of the meeting never became SUCCESS. It never became a debate about tactics, strategies, methods and organizations. It never became an effort to sort everything out and begin focusing on winning. That is unfortunate and sad.

I am writing this comment to each of you and anyone else who really cares about our struggle and who wants to succeed. I want you to know there is a wonderful (low profile) effort to explore the history of the movement, understand the current issues and to design a winning effort. It does not include today's self-described "leaders," but it includes you. It includes anybody who has an idea or tactic or strategy or campaign that they believe will be helpful.

In the last year I have completed more than 50 meetings all across the country with the very specific intention of figuring out how to win. I;m not interested in yet another non-profit or another activist gorup - I am only interested in winning.

To date more than $300,000 has been spent on research and idea/campaign development and more than 500 people have participated. We continue to work towards developing a strategy for a real, sustainable movement - complete with a very specific Plan (how) and a timetable (when) for achieving our equality. Nothing approaching that was in today's meeting. I believe we can and will succeed in the next two years.

Our community needs to embrace accountability and begin to focus on actually winning. We need to have the courage to let go of old ideas and embrace innovative thinking based on results, not simply history or "expert-endorsement." We have to acknowledge this isn't our Grandfather's America and respond with ideas that will work in 2010.

I wanted each of you to know I appreciate your interest in this meeting today and your comments here. I would like you to also know that there is a group working on winning. I think they will succeed. But, in order to do so they will need you. Like we all know, but rarely say - our equality is our job. We cannot hire a solution (HRC) or rely on the few that are willing to make some noise (Activists). We will all have to participate. I believe we will when we are presented with a cohesive strategy and a detailed plan that demonstrates the "path" to victory and the necessary resources.

I wanted you to know what's in the works and that I appreciate both your sincerity and your continued contributions. We will win, soon.

Thank you Andrew. Please tell me more about this group, its 50 meetings, 300,000 in research and other important information. You say they will need us but you provide no information that allows me to join in the efforts.

More information will be shared soon.

As you can see from the comments on Bilerico (and other Blogs) just getting the community to embrace accountability is very difficult. We are taking a very different approach to obtaining equality - we want to win.

The LGBT Community doesn't need another ineffective non-profit with excessive salaries and no strategy. Before yesterday's important Town Hall meeting I asked the host to ask his panel of "Leaders" (his word) a very simple question:

"How and when will we obtain our full equality?"

He didn't ask because he knew nobody at that meeting could or would answer that question. That's our problem - they're not trying to figure out how to win, they are simply in business to "fight" and nobody is even willing to question their tactics, methods or strategies. They fight over money and attention.

That attitude and lack of accountability will be ending soon. As soon as possible.

Andrew if you are serious I applaud you. If you are being disingenuous shame on you. Why are you keeping this organization in the closet? You want us to believe in your approach but unless you reveal it how do I know it is not just a fantasy upon which you seek to build personal prestige.

Personal prestige? I am generally vilified for simply suggesting accountability for the LGBT Community.

This organization is not in the "closet," but rather in development. I think too many efforts ignore the idea of "winning" or whether or not they achieve the most important objective: changing minds or votes.

I also do not believe the community is ready. Our community has a very big problem with accountability and the very simple task of determining whether or not tactics, methods or strategies are either effective or helpful. Barney Frank called GetEqual's stunts "immature, stupid and tacky" while acknowledging "they didn't change anyone's mind." Then, HE was attacked. The same people who have been attacking HRC are angry that THEY are being "attacked."

I'm not a fan of HRC or GetEqual and it is based on their tactics/strategies. Lobbying and complaining are not effective strategies. Instead of talking about the functions of these organizations, people focus on personalities. Yesterday was the "Get Joe Fest" and NOT a productive effort to find a "Path Forward." It was another missed opportunity to make some progress.

I have invited people to give thoughtful consideration to "figuring out how to win." During the last 9 months that has been very fruitful. Nothing about these efforts is about me or any other individual - it is about innovative ideas, strategies and campaigns to WIN. It looks very encouraging. When it is complete and when the community evolves and begins to embrace accountability, it will be introduced. Nobody involved has romanticized being an "activist" or has any interest in being paid to "advocate." They have figured out how to actually win and that alone is their motivation.

OK, I get it. This is like the preachers who say the end is coming except you want us to believe in you having a wonderful and indescribable heaven which will not require Armageddon. Forgive me if I am skeptical of your church at this point. Your creed of "accountability" has no substance yet. Yes you are in the closet and until you come out and reveal something verifiable it seems silly for you to be preaching. Let me know when services are scheduled. Tentative doesn't get you any points.

I'm curious Deena, do you think the LGBT Community should embrace accountability for all tactics, methods, strategies and organization? And, do you think we can win within two years?

Please don't think I am dodging your question but accountability to whom and by whom. Accountability has a nice ring to it but you so do many other words. You are asking me to state my thoughts on an undefined nebulous concept. That is like me asking you if the LGBT community should embrace change. I would have to ask what change. Likewise you have failed to define win. Win what? Repeal of DADT? ENDA? Repeal of DOMA? All of the above and more? Please ask me questions that make sense. I'm a Ditz so you have to be precise because I wouldn't want to answer incorrectly.

Win = Equality.

I measure that by transforming ourselves from a small, weak minority into a strong powerful majority. A majority that believes we are all equal no matter what our differences may be. When we can demonstrate that the majority of Americans believe that, we will succeed in all political, cultural and legal endeavors. The stigma would be gone for the majority of people. We wouldn't be wrong or lesser anymore - at least for the majority of people.

That's how I would measure "winning." Un-wronging us.

Accountability means we are willing to demand that WHAT we do and HOW we do it make sense and that they are helpful and/or effective. It means organizations must be forthcoming about their ideas, tactics, strategies and Plans. It means they must be able to provide compelling evidence of their effectiveness and that they add to our potential success.

Any organization seeking to help create our equality must be able to justify their tactics and it would be helpful if they'd give some thought to figuring out how to actually win - not just raise enough money for another year of "the same."

Oh, since you have clarified it then my answers are yes and yes.

We'll discuss more at Brunch.

cyn·i·cism (sn-szm) n.

An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others.

skep·ti·cism i·cism (skpt-szm) n.

A doubting or questioning attitude or state of mind.

"A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything
and the value of nothing."

- Oscar Wilde

Yeah sure Andrew. Call me.