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    February 17, 2010

    3 ways bloggers can help DADT repeal

    Posted by: Chris

    Phil attey hrc catholics for equality

    Since moving back to Washington a few weeks back, I've had the pleasure of reconnecting with Phil Attey, a friend I know from his days on the Human Rights Campaign communication staff. (Yes, I have friends at HRC; I even dated an HRC staffer a number of years ago -- is that the equivalent of "having one over for dinner"?).

    After leaving HRC in the late '90s, Phil has been at the cutting edge of leveraging the Internet and social networking to bring about change (yes, the kind we can believe in). A lifelong Catholic, Phil will very soon be calling on the lessons learned as an LGBT Netroots pioneer in the launch of a sorely needed effort at answering on their own terms those who misuse religion in politics to deny us civil equality.

    Dadt repeal call congressPhil and I don't always see eye to eye on tactics, but he's no knee-jerk defender of his former employer and I appreciate the way he challenges those of us throw bombs from our blogs to use our voices in a positive way as well. Along those lines, I'd like to share something he posted on Facebook -- Sarah Palin-style -- in response to the blog swarm targeting HRC that I joined yesterday.

    It's worth taking the time to read, and I join him in directing our primary focus where repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and other gay rights progress presently is mired -- in the hallowed halls of Congress.


    Yesterday, a group of our most prominent bloggers joined forces to ask their combined audiences to make phone calls on DADT. The idea of this excited me, as along with some great Facebook activists have been advocating for months, a united online call to action to flood Congress with phone calls on the issue.

    Sadly, instead of calls to Congress, they were joining forces to shut down the phone lines of our nation's largest pro lgbt equality group. Can you just see Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck salivating?

    My intent is not to shame the bloggers or finger point. We don't have the luxury of such time. Reality Check: We only have a few months to ensure the DADT repeal is included in this Spring's Defense Authorization Bill, and we need to focus on real action.

    Besides, these bloggers are my friends and heroes ... and valued voices in our movement.

    Trying to keep this positive, here are three things they could easily combine their forces to accomplish that would not only help to repeal DADT, but spark a grassroots excitement in the progressive community that after we elected President Obama, we've completely lost on the left:

    1. Promote a CALL CONGRESS Day for the next Senate or House Hearing on DADT.
    Have a graphic designer create a stylish logo, give it a catchy name, and join forces to create an online echo chamber to bring our entire community on board. Trust me, if you do this, all of us on Facebook will help you pull it off and praise you for it!

    2. Call for a National "March Into Washington" Lobby Day on Capitol Hill.
    Show the critics of the recent March on Washington that marches actually can be used to move Members of Congress on our issues. No money needed, no lofty speeches, just set a day with enough time in advance for folks to get cheap flights to DC, provide them with talking points on DADT and include a link for them to look up the office numbers for each of their Senators and Representative. 250,000 people walking through the Senate and House buildings and into offices would have an impact the likes of which Washington has never seen.

    3. Call of a National Day of Congressional District Action.
    Let's take a page from Tea Party. Poke fun at them all you want. Call them Teabaggers, racists, bigots, whatever, but please don't disrespect the reality that they just kicked all our progressive asses when it came to Health Care Reform. Not even my hero Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake was able to counter their grassroots influence on the HCR debate. Call for rallies and Congressional District meetings with every Member of Congress when they'll be back home during their next recess. And if you don't think you can actually organize/inspire our community to do our own rallies, at least learn from the great work ACT UP did with their 1992 "What ABOUT AIDS" signs, and create ones our activists can take to hijack the Tea Party Rallies that will be happening across the country on Tax Day, April 15th. ... DADT WASTES MY TAX DOLLARS ... REPEAL IT NOW!

    Is it pollyanna to think this will actually happen? Maybe. But as Willie Wonka said to Veruca Salt, "We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams"

    It's time to make some music. It's time to make some dreams come true.

    Yours in the united stand for equality,

    + Phil



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    1. Amicus on Feb 18, 2010 9:43:20 AM:


      1. My congresscritters are not the problem, from what I gather. Calling them is of no use. You gotta hunt where the ducks are.

      2. There is the right way, the wrong way, and the Army's way. To the extent that foggybottom is involved in "study", some part of effective lobbying of the "old chestnuts" is knee-capped, because politicians seeking cover can say, "it's being studied, I don't even have to have a firm position yet, it would be prejudicial". In other words, the military is calling the shots (and the President is out on a limb, but that's another story).

      3. I'm persuaded by our courtroom arguments that gays and lesbians do not have political power. Therefore, arguing whether we should be butterflies with blue wings or yellow wings (see above) seems a point in aesthetics. Since I like aesthetics, I participate.

    1. Chris on Feb 18, 2010 11:31:42 AM:

      @Amicus: Speaking to #1 on your list, I would be very curious to know where you live because I'm not aware of any jurisdiction in the U.S. where the entire congressional delegation is on-board not just with repealing DADT, but making moratorium/repeal part of the Defense Department budget bill now working its way through Congress.
      #2: That's the whole reason we need to lobby now, to reduce the cover the pols feel unless they press for repeal now, even if the effective date is something that the Pentagon review establishes.
      #3: Don't smoke our own dope on this one. The test for heightened scrutiny in constitutional review has always been an artificial construct of the courts, from favoring "immutable characteristics" to defining whether "political power" is lacking. Whether or not we are powerful on every issue, polls are overwhelmingly on our side on DADT and the media are thankfully portraying this issue, and gay rights generally, as an important barometer the progressive base is using to judge Obama and Congress. There's power in that calculus, if only we choose to exercise it.

    1. Amicus on Feb 19, 2010 10:01:20 AM:

      I don't have the heart to argue. We will be yellow butterflies, then.

      Once more into the breach!

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