Bil Browning

Look Back: GetEqual's 2010 Accomplishments

Filed By Bil Browning | January 14, 2011 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: GetEqual, marketing

While I've often been critical of GetEqual's tactics and strategy, even I recognize a damn good marketing video when I see it. Their new release looks back at all of 2010's actions and the pressure they put on elected leaders. It's well worth the few minutes to watch it.

So now that 2010 is a wrap, what's your opinion? Was GetEqual successful? Did they make a difference?

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I don't think that fundraising video does much to help evaluate the group. 30 actions for half a million dollars (my previous estimate was one every two weeks; I wasn't too far off)... well, I don't have that kind of money anyway and I guess other people think it was worth it.

At least they didn't claim full credit for DADT repeal passage in the same way HRC (sorta) did on MSNBC. Otherwise I'd say they're pretty good at plastering their logo all over everything like HRC, Coca-Cola, and Nike are. They're a real corporation now.

I'm with you on that one Alex; they are now "Pepsi Gay Inc" to HRC's "Coke Gay Inc"

GE = HRC, Coca Cola, and Nike???? C'est amusant.

"It was the groups that would not take no for an answer. GetEqual, the 9/11 Healthcare...the first responders—who came here, who demonstrated ,who chained themselves to the White House, who followed the President around and heckled him—absolutely would not take no for an answer—got their issues addressed. .....

I think the important thing we can look at are the people who got their issues addressed. The people who were absolutely unrelenting, who didn't try to play an inside game. It was the outside game that won this time. Again, the GetEqual people were remarkable. Dan Choi, the people who chained themselves to the White House—they really put themselves out there and pushed.

We did see what it's like—what fierce advocacy is like from the White House in the form of what they did on START. They called members of the Senate. They arranged for briefings. They had Joe Biden out there. The President was using the bully pulpit. And if he's not doing that, as HE WASN'T on the Dream Act or Don't Ask, Don't Tell, then we know it's not a priority for them. And those activists did not accept the kabuki. They said we want the whole, the Full Monty. We want the whole thing and we're not going to take anything less. And, I think that's why we're all sitting here celebrating today, because they were uncompromising in what they wanted." - Jane Hamsher, Firedoglake, on the Lawrence O'Donnell show, "The Last Word," Dec. 22, 2010.

"Passing the repeal of DADT in the final moments of the year spoke volumes about [Obama's] dread of the repercussive voice of our community more than about his actual intentions." – Father Tony, Bilerico, December 20, 2010.

Rick Sutton | January 15, 2011 7:22 AM

Well, Father Tony can have his opinions, but I doubt Pres. Obama lost any sleep over our community's angst.

At least he didn't as long as Rahm was COS.

Buh-bye, Rahm. Good riddance. What wasted opportunities, all sacrificed at the altar of cooperative politics. Which was never going to happen anyway.

I'm commenting on their marketing, Michael, not their accomplishments, which are very real and successful.

Get Equal at least had something to do with the repeal of DADT! HRC?????? lots of parties! very little if anything to do with DADT! A lot of people donate to the cause of the minute! Gay Inc. seems to have a whole lot of money whether Pepsi or Coke! Should have Plenty enough to actually influence LBGT issues!

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | January 15, 2011 4:11 AM

On the positive side GetEqual consistently lambasted Obama, something Democrats will never forgive. GetEqual did a creditable job of organizing direct actions but seem to have forgotten that mass actions are vastly more important and productive. Also GetEqual is not a democratic organization with an elected staff or a perspective of creating a massive, democratic (as opposed to Democrat) national organization to win our rights.

Unless we've been told lies GetEqual activists are paid to do what they do and it's unclear who makes policy and if and how much policy decisions are made by the people who write the paychecks. Absent a democratic internal life they could become as much of a drag on the movement as LCR, HRC or the Stonewall Democrats.

As for their focus on enlistment in a US military committing genocide and mass murder for oil and resources that was a terrible error. DADT repeal, in the real world, accomplishes virtually nothing except to allow military careerists to get paid well while murdering muslim civilians. Repeal will do little to nothing to end the harassment, violence and rape of GLBT and female soldiers, sailors, air crew and marines.

The only way to help end the wastage of military and civilian lives in Obama's wars is to demand the total, immediate and permanent withdrawal of all US troops and their demobilization.

In spite of premature squeals of ecstasy at the repeal of Clinton's DADT and the hate crimes bill Obama remains on track as a bigot and a contemptible warmonger in the tradition of LBJ, Nixon, the Bushes and Clinton.

Having (A) first become involved in gay and antiwar activism 40+ years ago, including having helped lead some groups myself, and (B) having been one of those arrested at the White House this past November in a protest organized by GE, I think I’m a little better informed than the majority of people who criticize them based on shallow understandings of activism generally and variations of the pathological lies “Andrew W” aka “Jennifer Q” aka “Jenny Q” aka “Tammy” ad nauseum has made a career out of spreading across the Net about GE specifically. [The latest whopper I’ve seen: “they paid themselves $1 million.”]

1. No, I was not paid to be one of the approximately 20 people who went to Harry Reid’s office and demanded to know if and when he was going to bring the so-called DADT repeal bill to a vote. No, I was not paid to be one of the 13 who handcuffed themselves to the White House fence, got arrested, went to jail, and still awaiting the government’s ajudication. Three of GE’s microscopic “staff” were involved in the first action, and two of those in the arrest.

While noting that the phraseology is nonsense on its face, I’m confidant no one else was “paid to do” anything, including, yes, Dan Choi. Only the financially independent are capable of being full-time activists not paid at least something to live on by someone else—and a subatomic few of those are WILLING to.

2. The actions were as “democratic” as any could be given the absurdity of that concept being applied to activism. No one ordered me to participate. Nor Miriam Ben-Shalom. Nor Justin Elzie. Nor Evelyn Thomas. Nor Ian Finkenbinder. Nor Autumn Sandeen. Etc. [BTW: the seven veterans who wore military uniforms could have been subject to prosecution just for that.]

After agreeing to the general concept of the actions, group meetings were then held to discuss and vote on the specifics, e.g., whether to “resist” arrest [No] or “go limp” [Yes]. I disagreed directly with GE co-director Robin McGehee [whose two young children were 3000 miles away probably missing their “Antichrist” mother] on one proposal, as did some others including a GE “staffer,” and, so, it was dropped. One of those allegedly “telling GE what do to,” Paul Yandura, who helped find seed money for creation of the group, didn’t even participate in the discussions/votes; neither did the original funder, philanthropist Jonathan Lewis, [whom, yes, some will never forgive for exercising his freedom to do with his own money whatever he legally chooses]. He wasn’t even present.

No one from out-of-town stayed in a hotel, there were no rented meeting rooms, no black-tie dinners were held. We slept on the floor in sleeping bags, etc., met in a crowded living room, and ate pizza, etc.

3. As for the general blah blah about how ANY organization is run, I respectfully submit the question who ELECTED YOU to be that judge?

4. While confidant that GE would have loved as much as I that more had been willing to be arrested that day, including ANYONE from “Gay, Inc.,” the fact is that, sadly, in today’s America, “mass actions”—even ones NOT involving civil disobedience arrests— are a pipe dream, no matter how many times “Bill Perdue” [?] recycles his/her delusions of a socialist/”labor” paradise in which multitudes march to “Bread & Roses” set to a disco beat.

While the majority of the public opposes our being in Afghanistan, as much as it outrages me, there is no reason to believe we will ever see protests against it like the ones I participated in against the Vietnam War that involved many hundreds of thousands descending on Washington and countless smaller demonstrations simultaneously around the country and world. [The first time I ever protested at the White House was against the My Lai massacre, and the first time I was ever arrested was for refusing military induction, twice.]

5. As admirable as the National Equality March was [and I was there, and organized two related DC events], in terms of directly affecting the behavior of Congress or the Administration [other than briefly scaring Obama just enough that he suddenly agreed to speak at HRC’s cluster fuck, excuse me, annual dinner the night before], because of its relatively small turnout, and, more importantly, refusal to engage in any “direct action,” it was a direct failure. The best that can be said about it is that thousands of people became more “politicized” in the process—and GE grew out of it.

It’s sacrilege to say, but the 61 years since the first sustained “gay rights” group was formed, the ONLY “mass ACTIONS”—those by ACT UP—grew primarily out of understandable but still SELF-regard. And, just like the bottom fell out of the anti Vietnam movement after the draft was eliminated, the bottom fell out of HIV/AIDS mass actions after the creation of the drug “cocktails.”

6. Stepping over the, to be kind, the hyperbole about “genocide and mass murder for oil and resources” as I would do-do, fortunately most understand that attacking the job discrimination and homo/transphobia by the country’s largest employer and [regardless of what you personally think] most admired institution is a major tool in ultimately dismantling homo/transphobia in America generally. And it defines the difference between a change activist and a change solipsist.

Yes, while I believe that "repeal" would have ended up in the same ditch that ENDA did had it not been for GE-related actions, they didn't succeed in moving ENDA. And I would disagree with some of the choices they've made. But virtually none of the criticisms here and elsewhere ring valid or relevant with this old "warrior."

Thank you.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | January 15, 2011 6:57 PM

Gosh Bedwell, was it something I said.

1) The anti-draft movement was for the children of the rich and well to do. The student anti-draft movement did indeed collapse once their career path to the riches enjoyed by their mommies and daddies were assured. The real antiwar movement, as opposed to the anti-draft movement, went on to organize working class GI's and the mass civilian antiwar movement, which, along with Vietnamese insurgents sent the American military brass scampering home, tails between their legs, in utter and humiliating defeat.

2) Support for enlistment and bogus 'national security' is support for genocide in Iraq and mass murder in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Palestine. Period. Choi, if he re-enlists becomes a participant in mass murder. Compare that to the real heroism of PFC Bradley Manning.

3) Not everything is about you, Bedwell . I was speaking about the core leadership of GetEqual, not you. I believe they were hired by private individuals. At least that's the story from many commenter's who I have no reason to believe are lying. I'm sure that several non paid activists attended their direct actions.

4) There have been several mass marches on DC and dozens more in other cities around local questions, often anti-GLBT violence by police and other thugs. The latest mass action was last fall in DC and there will be more as a new radicalization, far broader and more serious than that of the 1960s-70 gathers steam because the economy is still circling the drain. Many Democrats consider it a failure because it was an anti-Obama , anti-Democrat rally.

5) If, 2500 years after Harmodius and Aristogeiton paved the way for Athenian democracy, you have no understanding of the importance of democracy to our communities and movements then I understand why you're a Democrat, not a democrat.

6) Pro-war, pro-'national security' types like Obama, the DNC, the Pentagon, the Clintons, the Bushes, Cheney, the RNC, State Department propagandists and other assorted right wingers like yourself often deny the fact of genocide in Iraq and Palestine. They and you also deny the fact that oil and other resources are the only reasons Clinton murdered 500,000 Iraqi children, the only reason Bush used Clinton's lies about WMDs to invade and occupy Iraq and the only reasons Obama continues to waste the lives of tens of thousands of GIs and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of civilians.

7) Please, lose the old warrior act. It's been done to tatters:


#1. Ah, ever the arrogant, would-be omnicient but actually ignorant classist "Bill." I was obviously [see: federal indictment/arrest] a part of the "anti draft" movement" as well as the antiwar movement. Rich? My mother was then working as a restaurant cook for $1.00 an hour. I was only able to attend college because of Social Security support due to my dead father and my part-time student job.

That you can write "scampering home, tails between their legs, in utter and humiliating defeat" when nearly 60,000 came home in body bags, a disproportionate number of them black and brown, and the vast majority of them "working class" who weren't able to get a college deferment proves what a cold-blooded, hypocritical ideologue you are. You remind me of the comment of CARTOON character Charlie Brown: "I love mankind it's people I can't stand."

I won't bother easily shooting down your typical, ad hominem distortions of me and others, what I wrote [e.g., I discussed that "mass action last fall"], and history both distant and recent. What I wrote above was for the innocently uninformed not the invincibly ignorant. Put your body where your mouth is and then get back to me.

Bedwell, it still isn't about you and no one's going to get back to you. Get used to it.

I didn't ask what your mother did for a living. I said student deferments were a crock of privilege - everyone should have been treated equally, but instead the rich went to school and working class youth died. I wrote that the GI antiwar movement, among others, "sent the American military brass scampering home, tails between their legs, in utter and humiliating defeat." Since when are the '60,000 came home in body bags, a disproportionate number of them black and brown, and the vast majority of them "working class" ' part of the brass. Actually, they were victims of the brass and of Democrats like LBJ, the baby killer. The brass and the GIs were enemies, just as the US officer class in Iraq and Afghanistan are enemies of the GIs.

Support for enlistment and 'national security' is support for the murder of GI's and civilians. Period. I would never, ever get on a picket line that encouraged enlistment in a military that exists to engage in wars for oil and kills hundreds and hundreds of thousands of civilians. I would never support any of Obama's wars or your right wing 'national security' concerns. Instead, I support PFC Bradley Manning and Iraq Vets Against the War. They're heroes, but officer enlistees who aid and abet the murder of civilians are the opposite.

The National Equality March was an unqualified success as a mass action precisely because it held Obama and the Democrats feet to the fire. The Hate Crimes bill was quickly passed and signed in response. ENDA would have been better but all were going to get from Democrats are crumbs and easter eggs.

I'm disappointed, Bedwell. I hoped you'd come flying to the aid of the Clintons (as always) and claim that Bill Clinton wasn't responsible for the murder of 500,000 Iraqi children. Or try to prove that oil and other resources are the only reasons for the genocide in Iraq, or try to characterize the genocide as 'collateral damage'. You must be off your feed tonight. Or afraid of getting proven wrong again.

Boys, take a breather. It's just a blog post.