Phil Reese

Start calling! Phone swarm Chris Carney D-PA!

Filed By Phil Reese | September 09, 2010 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts
Tags: bigots, Blue Dog Democrats, Democrats, direct action group, GetENDA, GetEqual, political campaigns, protests

Get on the horn, people, and help GetEQUAL put pressure on an anti-gay Democrat carneyEQUALenda.jpgfrom Pennsylvania. (Script after the jump.)

Williamsport: 570-327-1902
Shamokin: 570-644-1682
Clarks Summit: 570-585-9988
Washington, DC: 202-225-3731

At 10:00 Eastern time this morning, GetEQUAL PA brought advocates together from around the state to tell Congressman Carney that our community will no longer stand silently and watch him vote against our rights. The non-violent, civil disobedient action was carried out at Rep. Carney's congressional district office in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, asking him to sign a pledge to vote in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

Carney is a died-in-the-wool blue dog, and we're paying for him on our side. This is from the GetEQUAL PA press release:

Rep. Chris Carney has a long-record of voting against his LGBT constituents. In 2009, he voted against the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act and this year voted against the Murphy Amendment to the Defense Authorization Act - more commonly known as the compromise legislation to begin the process to repeal the military's discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. Additionally, this year Rep. Carney has made it known that his intent is to vote against any Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) bill that would protect millions of hard-working, tax-paying LGBT workers - both in Pennsylvania and across the country.

"Rep. Carney has continued voting against protecting the jobs of millions of American workers simply for no other reason than because of who they are," said Audrey Smith, co-founder of Pennsylvania based Justice League-Activate!. "While Rep. Carney is out on the campaign trail worried about his own job, he continues to leave his LGBT constituents unprotected and without any form of federal employment protections. Like all Americans, we are worried about our job security and Rep. Carney's votes based on discrimination are completely unacceptable. He needs to know that we Pennsylvanians expect him to protect OUR lives and jobs and not just his own!"

Call with the following message for Rep. Carney:

"I am calling to urge Rep. Chris Carney to vote YES on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. If he cares about his own employment as a Representative, he needs to care about the employment of the people he represents!"

From the Facebook event page:

Rep. Chris Carney is a Democrat who represents Pennsylvania's 10th Congressional District, which includes much of the north central and northeastern parts of Pennsylvania.

As a Democrat, he has been very unsupportive of LGBT issues, including voting NO on the Don't Ask Don't Tell compromise this past May and also voting NO on last year's Hate Crimes bill. Recently, he has also indicated that he would not support the Employment No...ndiscrimination Act (ENDA).


GetEQUAL began promoting the "ENDA SUMMER" campaign a few weeks ago, after several activists from around the nation began working to pressure our large LGBT organizations to use Congress' summer recess to push for a vote on ENDA this year. Full disclosure, I was initially part of this ENDA SUMMER group back in May, June and July.

Explaining their goals in the press release, GetEQUAL says:

...ENDA is a piece of federal legislation that would make it illegal to hire, fire or refuse to promote LGBT workers simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. ...Lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees can be fired from their jobs in 29 states, and transgender or gender-nonconforming employees can be fired in 38 states.


"As long as people's lives and livelihoods are at stake, GetEQUAL will continue standing up with allied organizations demanding federal protections for millions of American workers," said Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL. "Our 'ENDA Summer' campaign is in full-swing and politicians who vote against our community and those who promise to support equality but never deliver should be on the watch. For 40 years the LGBT community has asked Congress to simply protect our right to employment and to provide for our families. The passage of ENDA is way overdue."

"GetEQUAL has promised that, as long as people's lives and livelihoods are at stake, we will not stop standing up for those LGBT workers in dozens of states across this country without a voice, without any job security," said Heather Cronk, managing director of GetEQUAL. "With the launch of our 'ENDA Summer' campaign, we told politicians that while they are back home campaigning to save their jobs, we intend on reminding them that their employment isn't the only one on the line. Millions of LGBT workers punch a clock every single day unsure if today's timecard could turn into tomorrow's discriminatory pink slip. The time to pass ENDA is now."

In addition to the action against Rep. Carney this morning, GetEQUAL, along with local advocates, has also targeted two members of the Democratic House Leadership this week demanding that they follow through on their promise to pass ENDA this year. Last night, U.S. House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA) was targeted during a campaign debate. Rep. Miller, nearly six months ago, promised that after healthcare legislation was passed that he'd move on ENDA. Healthcare legislation passed the House on March 22nd, 2010.

Later today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be targeted to make good on her promise to pass ENDA legislation this year. The act of civil disobedience will start with a rally in the historic Harvey Milk Plaza and proceed with shutting down traffic on Market and Castro streets in San Francisco, located in Speaker Pelosi's own congressional district.

Earlier this year they released a timeline, they described as "showing years of broken promises and excuses from elected officials that have led to the stalling of any federal protections being in place for LGBT workers." The timeline is available at

What to do after you call

After you've called, leave a comment here and let us know how the call went. I will post some of the grooviest comments in a summary post tomorrow.

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More childish behavior. None of these self-serving publicity stunts change anything – they just make us look stupid.

Pelosi hasn’t scheduled a vote on ENDA because it will not pass the current US Senate. All these silly protests do is jeopardize our relationships with politicians that already support us. We are about to get clobbered in the mid-terms and GetEQUAL is simply making that worse by pissing on our friends.

Carney is our friend how?

And what precisely has Pelosi done to move ENDA forward?

I think your definition of "friend" is a bit warped, andrew.

Sorry to say, Andrew, but Chris Carney is NOT a supporter. At all. See post.

I was referring to the stunts against Pelosi. Carney won't do anything because a few misfits complain. You have to get his voters. Nobody likes that because it takes real work, instead of a few paid circus clowns.

It's also amazing that these self-described "activists" fail to understand the problem is in the US Senate - not the House. ENDA passage in the House doesn't even need Carney. These latest stunts are just another attempt to get attention and a childish display of willful ignorance.

If all we have as a movement is "getting angry" and acting "childish," we deserve what is about to happen in November. It will be 1994 all over again and none of the carnivalesque publicity stunts did anything positive - they have only embarrassed us and confirmed that we do not have a strategy to win. We have a strategy to complain and "embarrass democrats" but no idea how to actually win.

Having spent a lot of time studying what ACT UP did in the 80s and 90s, I would have to strongly disagree. Civil disobedience and non-violent action went a long way to changing public opinion on AIDS/HIV and moved not only Congress but local leaders--like our own outgoing Mayor Daley--sharply in new directions. Mayor Daley was staunchly against raising AIDS/HIV budgets in Chicago his first three years in office. After ACT UP got on his case everywhere he went, he finally DOUBLED the city's AIDS/HIV budget, and eventually helped expand AIDS/HIV care and prevention in Chicago setting new nationwide precedents.

Andrew, it is good to challenge leadership, current wisdom and strategy--just like you do. You are the GetEQUAL of this blog, challenging the GetEQUAL sacred cows! And we need that. We need to question everything, like Green Day says.

ACT UP was successful because is was about DEATH. That message was ignored and civil disobedience and protest made a difference.

Today, some 15-20 years later everything has changed. 95% of Americans KNOW about us. It isn't a secret and it isn't being ignored. Our problem is the US Senate - we don't have enough votes because we haven't changed enough minds.

It is ineffective to attack elected officials and everything GetEQUAL has done proves that. It is a waste of money and energy.

Plus, anybody that thinks Rep. Carney will be tallying up phone calls in order to "make up his mind" is both naive and stupid. The polling data in his District won't allow him to support LGBT-issues.

Call people in his District and yell at them - the area code is 570 (just make up the next 7 numbers). Call them randomly. Maybe that will change a few minds, because until you do that you are just wasting your time.

Now that's an interesting idea. Maybe not yelling at strangers, but targeting constituents in districts where lawmakers are nearer the fence--door to door, telling our stories.

I'm not sure door-to-door works because it's intrusive and generally unwelcome. But, we can talk to friends, neighbors and even strangers. We don't have to change minds in every District or every State, but we need to change enough of them. That means 7-8 States. But, we're not doing that. Instead we applaud childish efforts to get attention we don't need and that does NOT change any minds.

Carney is going to lose against the Republican challenger in his district, which is primarily religious/conservative. Threatening him is silly. That race is already decided and pestering him with phone calls won't change that.

The US Senate AND House are not going to vote on anything LGBT-related before the mid-terms. Make all the calls you want, but we already screwed.

He's losing his job in November? All the more reason for him to do the right thing and leave a significant legacy and change his vote on ENDA.

Do you know what happens to lawmakers when they lose their jobs?

They make more money than they ever did as a lawmaker as consultants, executives or lobbyists. Their connections and name are extremely valuable in the private sector and companies pay top dollar for that.

What happens to those of us who are working 9-5 and we lose OUR jobs? We don't get picked up by Fortune 500 companies as consultants or managers.

I'm uninterested in excuses at this point, because they are hollow. I'm young, but I've already heard so many excuses from our lawmakers that nothing rings true anymore. When I don't do what I've promised to do at work, I'm rightfully disciplined, maybe even fired.

The LGBT community was sold a bill of goods by the Democratic Party in 2006 and 2008. Its right to be angry and to be fed up.

You know, I expect you to look at the math Phil. You're a thinking person. He is not going to re-define himself and end his political career. He would need to move to a different District or State. Why would he do that?

The need for ENDA is indisputable, but the problem is in the US Senate. We don't have enough votes and we are about to lose more support in November.

The Democratic Party doesn't mean "liberal" or even moderate - it is still about 15% conservative (plus religion even affects some liberals). I don't understand why you believe any politician or political party can promise and deliver anything. That's just crazy.

Get mad. But, understand that anger and protest aren't going to change anything - only WE can do that. Expecting politics or even the $100 million we waste each year on Gay Inc. to achieve anything is delusional. They haven't because they can't, until we change minds.

Maybe we'll come to that realization after the mid-terms. Maybe.

Okay, I'll bite, Andrew. Let's hear your alternative strategy. If its not door-to-door, if its not legislation, if its not lobbying... well, then, what is it? Is it laying down and dying and just accepting our fate? I'm not built to throw stones from the outside and do nothing to make change. I'm open for an alternative--lay it out for us.

Phil, you, and everyone else on Bilerico, know our first step is accountability for every tactic, method, strategy and organization. That has been my effort for the last six months while campaigns are being prepared. If we can't even agree that we must challenge our tactics and methods, no new ideas will even be heard.

Thanks to GetEQUAL, I believe we are finally understanding that tactics from a bygone era no longer work. So, the $500,000 they've spent isn't a total waste.

I am hopeful that after the mid-terms (1994 all over again) we will wake up and take this movement serious and recognize that politics and protest don't work. Maybe then we'll decide to do it ourselves. If not, I'm not going to waste money on a community that won't grow up. I don't do that in business and I won't do it for this problem either. We need to wake up and be honest and objective if we want to win this. I haven't seen it yet.

Thanks for keeping people aware, Phil!

"Aware?" Sooner or later Alex you will need to focus on accomplishing something. I appreciate all the effort of Bilerico, but we need to figure out what works, not just what makes us feel better.

The calls to Carney are a complete waste of time, money and energy. I'm sure you understand that.

I called this morning and left a message in his DC office with a lovely young woman. I asked her if she needed the bill number, and she said no, she was familiar with the bill. That's different from many calls I've made in the past, where those who answered the telephone weren't familiar. They'd never heard of ENDA, or the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or any bill to stop job discrimination against gay people. I'd call this a demonstration of effectiveness of GetEqual's action.

A receptionist in Carney's office has heard of ENDA and this is what you call "progress?" Somehow this leads you to believe that GetEQUAL's circus-style publicity stunts are effective?

Approaching the mid-terms every elected official is very aware of ENDA and DADT. It is naive or willful ignorance (or both) to suggest they don't.

Audrey GetEQUAL Smith | September 14, 2010 8:16 AM

How much money do you think was spent on me sitting in Carney's office? ZERO!! And it sure as hell didn't cost AndrewW anything!

I never claimed to be a brilliant organizer! I'm just a lezzie mom who gives a f%$#! SOMEONE needs to take a stand, and if you more skilled organizers or strategists don't, then I am compelled to!

When you did your stunt in Carney's office he was on active duty. He is in a tight race in a very conservative District with a Republican opponent that is likely to win in November. The only thing your "action" could accomplish is helping the Republican.

I appreciate your wanting to take a "stand," but protesting is ineffective and likely counterproductive. The only way to change the outcome of that election is to change the minds of the voters. Sit-ins don't do that, conversation does. We need to educate and enroll constituents. Demanding without a threat doesn't accomplish anything - it just makes us look weak.

The only way for activism to be helpful is with substantial participation. GetEqual has never drawn more than a dozen people to their stunts. That isn't because we don't care - it's because we know it doesn't work.

Maybe you could channel your commitment and enthusiasm into efforts to educate, enlighten and enroll the people in your District. Inconveniencing people doesn't inspire anyone.