A Comic Guide to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell


Dignity & Respect: A Training Guide on Homosexual Conduct Policy
Distributed by the United States Army
2001
(scanned by Comics with Problems)

Click here to download a PDF of the entire comic.

Title: Dignity & Respect:
A Training Guide on Homosexual Conduct Policy.

Publication: [Washington, D.C.]: Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Dept. of the Army, Year: 2001 Description: 30 p. : col. ill. ; 17 cm. Language: English

OCLC: 52583606

Available libraries that have a copy in their holdings(2): Pritzger Military Library and Michigan State University.

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Remarks at Creating Change in 2000


by Coretta Scott King
Atlanta, GA
November 9, 2000
(source)

I think we all need a few days to recuperate from the stress-filled election we have just experienced, but not much more, because we have a lot more work to do in our common struggle against bigotry and discrimination.

I say “common struggle” because I believe very strongly that all forms of bigotry and discrimination are equally wrong and should be opposed by right-thinking Americans everywhere. Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation is surely a fundamental human right in any great democracy, as much as freedom from racial, religious, gender, or ethnic discrimination.

My husband, Martin Luther King Jr., once said, “We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny… an inescapable network of mutuality,… I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be.” Therefore, I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.

In addition to this fundamental moral principle, there is a very practical reason why people involved in human rights should support each other and work together. And that reason is that the whole of us united makes us stronger than the sum of our parts. This principle of synergy is eloquently summed up in the equation “One plus one equals three.” In other words, there are things we achieve together that we can’t achieve separately.

In a way, we have just had an object lesson in the power of coalition unity. And I think we have just seen the future of American democracy flash before our eyes last Tuesday. The coalition that gave Al Gore a popular majority can surely be as powerful as the New Deal coalition that transformed America in an earlier era.

So what comes next for the NGLTF, the King Center, and indeed all organizations working for human rights and social justice must be a new emphasis on working together in coalitions. With this commitment, we can pass comprehensive hate crimes legislation and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and secure full funding for AIDS research, prevention, and treatment. We can defend affirmative action and support a broad range of common legislative and policy priorities.

It is encouraging that we have seen more gay and lesbian candidates elected to political office. It is important for lesbian and gay officeholders and their constituencies to achieve greater visibility as supporters of laws that benefit the entire community. I think this will help educate the American public that lesbian and gay people seek the same goals of quality education for young people, cleaner air and water, safe streets and better health care that straight people want. We have to work harder for the broader vision of the compassionate and caring society that demands decent living standards for all citizens.

Now that the election is finally behind us, we must turn our full attention to building a tightly knit coalition of human rights groups that can act swiftly and effectively for needed policy reforms. Let’s make this first decade of the 21st century an era of unprecedented expansion in freedom and democracy.

And as we work for needed reforms, we must also look ahead to the next elections, mindful that we need more people of color in America’s federal, state, and local political institutions. And we also need more women and more lesbian and gay officeholders as well. This is how we make our political institutions reflect the diversity of the American people.

In closing, my friends, I just want to say that Im proud to stand with you today as we build a great new American coalition for freedom and human rights for all people. Despite the formidable challenges we face, I believe that we will succeed in creating a more compassionate and just society.

I’ll conclude my remarks tonight with a few words spoken by Martin Luther King Jr. at the National Press Club in July of 1962. The 38 years that have come and gone since then have done nothing to diminish the relevance of his remarks. Indeed, they seem particularly appropriate to the challenge we face today.

“We are simply seeking,” said Martin, “to bring into full realization the American dream – a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men no longer argue that the color of a man’s skin determines the content of his character; the dream of a land where everyone will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality – this is the dream. When it is realized, the jangling discords of our nation will be transformed into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood, and men everywhere will know that America is truly the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

All Together Now (A Blueprint for the Movement)


by Evan Wolfson
September 11, 2001
(source)
Originally published in The Advocate (via Google Books archive)

Just as the far right is launching another attack against the freedom to marry — this time in the form of a proposed constitutional amendment — marriage-rights expert Evan Wolfson outlines the blueprint for a new campaign to secure equal marriage rights for all lesbians and gay men.

Why marriage and why now?

We can win the freedom to marry. Possibly within five years. This bold declaration, which I hope becomes a rallying cry, raises many questions – not the least of which are: Why marriage and why now? Who’s “we”? How do we do it? And, five years?

Before I tackle those questions, though, let’s savor the possibilities: We can seize the terms of the debate, tell our diverse stories, engage the nongay persuadable public, enlist allies, work the courts and the legislatures in several states, and achieve a legal breakthrough within five years. I’m talking about not just any legal breakthrough but an actual change in the law of at least one state, ending discrimination in civil marriage and permitting same-sex couples to lawfully wed. This won’t just be a change in the law either; it will be a change in society. For if we do it right, the struggle to win the freedom to marry will bring much more along the way. It is not just the attainment but the engagement that will move us furthest and fastest.

But first, let me tackle those questions.
Why marriage and why now?

Marriage is many things in our society. It is an important choice that belongs to couples in love. In fact, many people consider their choice of partner the most important choice they ever make. Civil marriage is also a legal gateway to a vast array of protections, responsibilities, and benefits (most of which cannot be replicated in any other way). These include access to health care and medical decision making for your partner and your children; parenting and immigration rights; inheritance, taxation, Social Security, and other government benefits; rules for ending a relationship while protecting both parties; and the simple ability to pool resources to buy or transfer property without adverse tax treatment.

After passing the federal antimarriage law marketed as the “Defense of Marriage Act” in 1996, the government cataloged more than 1,049 ways in which married people are accorded special status under law. Add in the state-level protections and the intangible and tangible privileges marriage brings in private life, and that makes more than 1,049 ways in which lesbians and gay couples are ripped off.

Marriage is a known commodity, permitting couples to travel without playing “now you’re legally next of kin; now you’re legally not.” It is a social statement, describing and defining one’s relationships and place in society. It is also a personal statement of commitment that receives public support and can help achieve common aspirations for stability and structure in life. It has spiritual significance for many of us and familial significance for nearly all of us.

Finally, marriage is the vocabulary in which nongay people talk of love, family, dedication, self-sacrifice, and stages of life. It is the vocabulary of love, equality, and inclusion. While recognizing that marriage should not be the sole criterion for benefits and support, nor the only family form worthy of respect, the vast majority of lesbians and gay men want the freedom to marry for the same mix of reasons as nongay people.

In the past several years we have turned an idea virtually no one talked about into a reality waiting to happen. A 1999 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reported that two thirds of all Americans have come to believe that gay people will win the freedom to marry. And we know that if they believe it will happen, on some level they are learning to live with it – the positive precondition to our achieving it. This extraordinary new receptivity comes only eight years after the Hawaii supreme court first launched this national discussion.

We can call the first chapter of our ongoing freedom to marry movement the “Hawaii/Vermont” chapter. Its successes were enormous. Through court cases in both states we showed that there is no good reason for sex discrimination in civil marriage, just as there was no good reason for race discrimination in civil marriage a generation ago.

We also redefined the national debate over lesbian and gay inclusion, fostering recognition that marriage is central to any discussion about lesbian and gay equality. This was dramatically demonstrated by last year’s vice presidential debate between Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman, both of whom answered a question about gay love by talking about their evolving (and increasingly supportive) positions on marriage.

The Hawaii/Vermont chapter moved the center of our country to the “all but marriage” position. Whereas before the marriage debate, the nongay majority did not support any kind of partner recognition for same-sex couples, now we see majority support for health benefits, inheritance, and other kinds of recognition of our family relationships. That is a product of talking about our lives in the vocabulary of full equality and a happy consequence of asking nongay people to hear our stories.

In June 2000 an Associated Press poll put opposition to our freedom to marry at only 51% ; the latest Gallup Poll puts it at 52%. A recent survey shows college freshmen strongly supporting our freedom to marry as well. My latest favorite poll, however, came in New York magazine early this year. It reported that 58% of nongay New Yorkers support civil marriage for gay people, and that 92% (!) of gay people agree.

All of this is occurring, of course, against a backdrop of international advances. It has been only 12 years since Denmark became the first country to create “gay marriage” (not marriage itself but a parallel marital status for same-sex couples). This year the Netherlands became the first to dispense with separate and unequal formulas and allow same-sex couples to lawfully wed. Other European nations, and possibly the European Union as a whole, will certainly follow suit in the years to come. Meanwhile, Canada — which already has recognized same-sex couples’ legal entitlement to “all but marriage” — is also in the midst of a campaign aimed at securing the freedom to marry.

Finally, the Hawaii/Vermont chapter brought us “gay marriage” — though not yet marriage itself — here at home. With the passage of the civil union law, Vermont created a parallel nonmarriage marital status for same-sex couples, upon which we can build.

It is worth remembering that we didn’t get civil unions by asking for civil unions. We got this separate and unequal status by pressing for the freedom to marry. In Vermont local activists, New England’s Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and our allies mounted a campaign of public outreach, enlisting clergy, speaking at county fairs, and then folding in litigation — groundwork that led to victory through sustained engagement. With these successes as our new starting point, it’s time for us to open the next chapter in our movement.
What about asking for less?

Civil unions are a tremendous step forward, but they are not good enough. They do not provide equal benefits and they leave couples and those who deal with them exposed to legal uncertainty. What we want is not separate and unequal “gay marriage” but marriage itself, the full range of choice and protections available to our nongay sisters and brothers. We do ourselves no favor when we enter this civil rights discussion bargaining against ourselves.

The attempt not to talk about marriage, to have a discussion without using the m word, increasingly fails. The fierce (and ongoing) right-wing backlash against civil unions in Vermont (and the right wing’s use of marriage and civil unions as a club against us in campaigns in other states) shows that we do not gain much ground by calling it something else or running away from the debate. Our opponents are against us no matter what we seek. When we fight merely not to be beaten up in the streets, they are against us. If we were asking for oxygen, they would be against us. Our opponents will redefine everything we seek as “a slippery slope to gay marriage” and attack us with equal ferocity, no matter what.

If we are going to have to face opposition and work to engage the middle no matter what we strive for, why not ask for all we deserve? Remember, it is no coincidence that the two states in which we have the most expansive protections and recognition for gay people are the two in which we framed the discussion in terms of full equality.
Who’s “we,” and what is the new approach?

It is time for a peacetime campaign to win the freedom to marry. We cannot win equality by focusing just on one court case or the next legislative battle — or by lurching from crisis to crisis.

Rather, like every other successful civil rights movement, we must see our struggle as long-term and must set affirmative goals, marshal sustained strategies and concerted efforts, and enlist new allies and new resources.

More than ever, then, “we” means key organizations in key battleground states working in partnership; a national resource center doing what is best done centrally; talented and dedicated individuals who bring new resources and new focus to the table; existing and new national groups prioritizing real work on marriage; and most critically, nongay allies.

Clearly we can — and must — motivate nongay allies to become vocal advocates. Fortunately, we have good models for doing so. For instance, we can examine and replicate how the parents of students creating gay-straight alliances — or the parents, funders, and others who have taken action against Boy Scouts discrimination — have defined their relation to our civil rights and created a public responsibility and role for themselves.

Since there is no marriage without engagement, we must make enhanced efforts to have our allies speak out in a variety of forums — everything from advertorials to interfaith dialogues to TV talk shows such as Oprah and Larry King Live — describing to other nongay Americans why it’s important for them to support the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples.

We also can enlist diverse allies among other constituencies (religious, labor, child welfare, youth, seniors, business, etc.) and seek ways to work together with overlapping communities such as women and people of color. For example, we can find common ground through joint projects to deal with problems we all face with immigration discrimination or access to health care.

Imagine, for example, a collaboration between the National Center for Lesbian Rights and La Raza or the Japanese American Citizens League, in which each group agreed to send collective information on immigration concerns to its mailing lists and then cohost a program that included gay concerns, spokespeople, and stories.

The good news here is that nongay people live in the world of marriage, and in many cases they will be more responsive to our call to join this work. As the growing list of signatories on the Marriage Resolution (www.lambdalegal.org) attests, many of them have already. We must give nongay opinion leaders at the national level as well as local clergy or organizations the impetus and framework for engaging the public on our freedom to marry.
How do we do it?

Our opponents have announced yet another antigay campaign – an effort to promote a federal constitutional amendment to permanently exclude lesbians and gay men from all family protections, including marriage. Outrageous as this latest assault is, there are lessons we can learn from them: the power of a campaign over time, the importance of framing the terms of the debate, the need to present diverse and compelling stories and allies, the ability to make attainable what at one time seemed radical. The good news here is that their attack offers us an occasion to take our case to the people. We should not shy away.

I envision a sustained effort to win the freedom to marry, centering on focused work to attain a legal breakthrough in one or more states, together with sophisticated national work to create a climate of receptivity. The elements of this sustained effort would be serious multimethodology, multiyear freedom-to-marry efforts under way in the most promising breakthrough states. The partners in these efforts would strategically mount litigation or legislative measures to end discrimination in civil marriage, but the specific vehicles would take place within the context of our undertaking enhanced public education and outreach work.
development of a clear and sophisticated understanding of what demographics we need to reach in order to firm up our 30%-35% base and soften up and move the 15%-20% of the public who are movable.
deployment of resources, trainings, messages, messengers, and vehicles to help nongay and gay partners in different states and constituencies communicate transformative information and enlist additional nongay support.

For example, we need to communicate resonant portrayals that show how the exclusion of gay people from marriage has a real and detrimental impact on children, families, and society; how withholding marriage does injustice and cruel harm to lesbian and gay seniors; how the United States is lagging behind other countries; how separate and unequal treatment is wrong; and why the government should not interfere with same-sex couples who choose to marry and share fully and equally in the rights, responsibilities, and commitment of civil marriage.

Let’s relate the stories of seniors and how they are denied the social safety net that comes with marriage. Let’s talk about the California schoolteacher who died after 30 wonderful years teaching kids, leaving her partner unable to share her pension or Social Security death benefits — or even remain in the home they shared. Or we can discuss how, if the teacher had survived and sought to move with her partner into an assisted-living facility, they might have found themselves forbidden to live together.

Marriage discrimination wreaks real harms — kids teased because they don’t have a “real family,” a nonbiological parent told he or she cannot pick up an ailing child at the school because of not being legally related, couples unable to transfer income or property between them.

Let’s trace the experiences — good and bad — of the 2,000-plus couples that have joined in civil union in Vermont. Let’s pick up on reports such as the 1999 Stanford University study that showed how denying marriage to same-sex couples hurts kids. Let’s describe the cruel sundering of binational couples, the partners turned away at hospitals, the callous dismissal of a lifetime of love in cases such as Sharon Smith’s claim for wrongful death when her partner was killed in a horrible dog mauling. Let’s also convey the strengths and vibrancy of many gay and lesbian couples such as my former clients Richard and Ron, who just celebrated their 31st anniversary, or my friends Jamie and Mark, who gathered friends and family from around the country to celebrate their wedding in a lovely church ceremony. Let’s make sure that America hears the voice of Jamie’s father, describing his growth in acceptance and wish that society could now do the same. Our job is to develop and deploy a strategic mix of messages that tell the diverse and real stories of our lives and love in a vocabulary of equality that reaches the middle.
Why five years?

Obviously no one can promise this breakthrough on any specific timetable, so of course I mean that this is doable within five years, but the victory may happen later … or sooner. We had victory within our reach in Hawaii years ago, only to see it blocked there because of our failure to act swiftly and strongly enough. But our opponents know the importance of sticking with the fight, and so must we. We must be prepared to ride the ups and downs. Our leaders and national organizations need to understand the lessons of the previous marriage battles as well as the lessons we should have learned from the battles over the military, federal civil rights legislation, and the Boy Scouts. Among those lessons: We cannot expect to win equality in one short burst of attention or one wartime campaign alone. Rather, we must lay the groundwork and not just try to cherry-pick the easy wins or “flavor of the month” issues.

Another lesson is that it is a mistake to define our cultural engagement and the work of our civil rights movement by what seems currently realistic or attainable in the legislatures (or the courts). For one thing, our ability to predict is often limited. I have seen us win battle after battle in state legislatures, even when our lobbyists and some of our groups said it couldn’t be done; likewise, courts sometimes surprise us. More broadly, the larger work we must do (the multimethodology peacetime campaign) should not be reduced to the bills. We do the groundwork in order to build up ammo and allies for eventual legislative battles, and in order to create the climate of receptivity to prepare and embolden the courts. Our job, of course, is not to make it easy for politicians or judges (even friendly ones) to do what they want; rather, it is to make it easier for politicians to do what we want – to do justice. We should not dumb-down our demand for equality, for possibilities open up not in some linear, tidy way but in spurts of creeping and leaping. Through our work and by aiming high, we make room for luck.
What do we want to build now?

Last year marked the end of an extraordinarily successful chapter in the history of our civil rights movement, from the attainment of “gay marriage” to the nongay response against the Boy Scouts’ discrimination. Now, in this next chapter, each of us must ask what we want to create for the young gay and nongay people watching our work and finding their voice.

To me the answer is clear: Let us build not a building or a halfway house or a better ghetto but rather a movement unafraid to seek what we and all others deserve, unafraid to reach beyond itself to talk with our nongay fellow Americans. Shimmering within our reach is a legal structure of respect, inclusion, equality, and enlarged possibilities, including the freedom to marry. Let us build the new approach, partnership, tools, and entities that can reach the middle and bring it all home.

Evan Wolfson is Executive Director of Freedom to Marry, a gay and non-gay partnership working to win marriage equality nationwide. Before founding Freedom to Marry, Mr. Wolfson served as marriage project director for Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, was co-counsel in the historic Hawaii marriage case, Baehr v. Miike, and participated in numerous gay rights and HIV/AIDS cases. Citing his national leadership on marriage equality and his appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America v. James Dale, the National Law Journal named Mr. Wolfson one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America.

Enough, No More, Enough


by David Mixner, Long-time activist for LGBT rights
November 4, 2009 (The day after Question 1 passed in Maine outlawing same-sex marriage)
(source)

Today I write more from my gut than maybe you have ever heard. Quite honestly to all those who have found my words inciting in the past, just move on. You are not going to be happy this morning reading further.

After a very restless night of sleep and some deep thought, I am ready to share with you some thoughts (this might not be my most ‘smooth’ writing). Forgive me that it has taken a while for me to compose myself so that I can write from my values and principles and not anger. Because my anger will blind me to the truths of yesterday. Let me do my best to share my deep beliefs and not out of anger or fear like the people who insist that we continue to create a system of Gay Apartheid in America. This will be part one of two parts on the election.

First and foremost, Enough!

We have poured over $100,000,000 in the last two years into efforts where Americans feel it is there obligation to vote on our freedom. The entire concept is repugnant and disgusting. That we for the last three decades have been drawn into this game of ‘this is politics’ and fighting these ballot box horrors so that maybe by in five, ten or twenty years we will have enough victories to force our federal government to protect our freedom is simply not acceptable anymore. Imagine the good we could have done with all that money. Imagine the civil rights movement we could have built if we had the leadership that was willing to think out of the box and put it on the line.

Second, call this campaign against us what it is – Gay Apartheid.

Refuse to allow any of our fellow Americans, President Obama or our allies to view this as a political issue who time hasn’t quite come. America is in the process of creating a system of Gay Apartheid. We will not quietly sit and accept it. All over the place, this nation is creating one set of laws for LGBT Americans and another set for all other Americans. That is the classic definition of Apartheid. Either our political allies are for Gay Apartheid or against it. If they are against it, they must fight with us and no longer duck like President Obama did in Maine and Washington. There is no half way in fighting Apartheid.

Today many will claim that we must surrender the word marriage or accept some sort of separate but equal arrangement. It didn’t work in the African-American struggle for freedom and it doesn’t work for us. We want full equality with the same rights, benefits and privileges as all other Americans now. We say to those friends, allies and even in our own community who want to accept that second class citizenship, “Oh No You Don’t!” We will accept no compromises, time-lines, incremental approaches with our freedom. Don’t counsel patience as if this is a new issue. We have been fighting these ballot box bigots for over three decades. Enough.

Third, it is clear that the political establishment in Washington doesn’t understand that we no longer willing to wait until it meets their timetable or political needs.

President Obama standing on the sidelines in Maine and Washington was appalling. The failure of our national organizations and leaders to demand his involvement was equally appalling. The outrageous act of the Democratic National Committee sending an email into Maine asking Maine Democrats to call into “NEW JERSEY” instead of to support the fight against bigotry was unbelievable. No one gets to sit on the sidelines in an epic battle against apartheid and no one gets a free pass. If you want our support, you have to earn it. We are way beyond where we will accept a little bit in 2009, some in 2010 and maybe more in the second term. Does anyone think after yesterday election results and the upcoming 2010 election, Obama has the ability to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and “DOMA” next year? Does anyone really believe we haven’t already missed a historic opportunity in the first 10 months of this year? Only a courageous fighting President and Congress can now help turn us this around and that we have not seen so far. Enough.

Finally, yes, as a community we have every reason to be proud. We raised the money, we made the calls, we came not in anger and we made the case. My hats off to the brave people, gay and straight, of Maine and Washington who fought in the trenches. We all are so proud of you and to be part of your community. You have no idea how much we love you for your work, dignity and honor. However, it is no longer acceptable to be viewed as brave, patient warriors in defeat.

I don’t want to be a brave warrior, I want to be a free one.

Enough!

Part 2

November 5, 2009
(source)

Over the next weeks, there will be numerous well-meaning proposals to deal with the aftermath of our brutally unfair defeat in Maine. Clearly there are many ways to respond. However, with all the energy I can muster, I have come to the clear conclusion that we can’t continue on the path we have been following the last two decades. The time has come for a major shake-up in ideas, tactics and priorities.

Those who hang on to the nostalgia of the past can live in it. There is no question in my mind that the vast majority of the LGBT community is ready to move forward with new visions and new tactics. What is happening to us with this expanding system of Gay Apartheid in America cannot be allowed to continue and if it does, we cannot go quietly into the night enabling such abuse anymore.

How can we have any dignity, honor or pride in ourselves if we validate this continued process of ballot box terrorism? How can we stand tall next to each other if we explain away another’s cowardliness? How can we allow people to dehumanize our relationships and our very integrity if we give people passes to sit out the battle for our very freedom? No longer are political timelines a reason for delay, no longer are incremental approaches acceptable and no longer can the political process expect us to be patient and wait our turn. Our turn came long ago and there will be no more waiting.

Our national organizations should be put on notice that we expect more from them and that we want more accountability and more dynamic leadership. For example, who talked to the President about Maine? Why did the White House refuse to become heavily involved? Why was Attorney General Eric Holder’s statement not disavowed by the White House? Did we have direct access to the President or not? Wanting to know these answers is fair. Holding organizations that ask for our money and support accountable is not divisive it is common sense. We want leaders and organizations that represent our interests and are not beholden to the trappings of political power. Time to end the cozy relationship between our national leaders and Washington power brokers and start playing tough.

Organizations should follow the role model of Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA) in New York. They must refuse to allow anyone to speak at their dinners who is not for marriage equality. That includes the President of the United States. If they insist on doing so, we should stop enabling them and stop buying tickets. Guess what? ESPA, because of their policy, is not viewed as fringe or ineffective. In fact, they are one of the toughest and best state organizations in the country. Why in the world would we give people platforms and honors who don’t support full equality now? We must stop it. They are abusers of our graciousness and our kindness. There is no room for them anymore.

As so many others have said, “The Gay ATM Machine is closed.” Not one penny more for those who are fair weather friends, who ask us to delay and who insist patience is a virtue in the face of injustice. I was astounded a few weeks ago in Washington when all my liberal friends were urging me to support the Democrat Owen in upstate New York who won election on Tuesday. When I responded that he was strongly against marriage equality and opined that they shouldn’t be supporting him, it was quickly pointed out to me that the Human Rights Campaign was supporting him. Well, you know what? I don’t care. If we support people who are against full equality, how can we expect others to do differently? No more excuses. Stop it. Close the checkbooks to those who are not fully on our side.

Promises are not enough. Before we support people they must be CO-SPONSORS for the repeal of DOMA and DADT. How in the world can Speaker Pelosi justify not being on Congressman Nadler’s “Respect for Marriage Act?” No sponsorship equals getting no money, it is really that simple In addition, we must cease giving money to groups that contribute to those ‘Blue Dog’ Democrats who are holding so much of our legislation up. Instead of national party committees, give to those politicans who have proven themselves directly. How can we possibly send money to the Democratic National Committee which urges the people of Maine to phone New Jersey and not a word about our struggle? How can you justify it?

New tactics must be embraced and honored. Civil disobedience must now be on the table and it is time for a long discussion about how it is to take place in the community. Perhaps we have to fill the jails, block military bases, sit in Congressional offices, block marriage bureaus, etc in order for them to know that business as usual has stopped. Careful and thoughtful consideration must be given now to this option.

Watching the coverage on Maine and the results tells me the press doesn’t really take us seriously as a civil rights movement. If that initiative had said people of different faiths could not marry does anyone really believe that it would be a sidebar story this week? The media has grown used to us being abused and we are enabling them to ignore it. “Oh yeah, another loss, how sad, we support you.” GLAAD has to consider making this a priority and force the media to accept us as the civil rights movement we have become in the last months. Nothing could be more important. I will take a stereotype on a television show in exchange for serious and comprehensive coverage of our civil rights struggle.

There is so much more to say and be debated over the next months. Maybe the ideas above are not the best but at least they are bold and not more of the same. We can’t survive more of the same. Apartheid for the LGBT community is becoming a way of life and everyone is beginning to adjust to it. We can’t, we simply can’t, allow that to happen.

For over thirty years I have been fighting ballot box measures and even have won some. What I have seen is a system of laws go in place around the country that prevents us from full equality. Some laws are specific like banning our participation in the military or DOMA. Some states ban adoption or foster care. Others give people permission to discriminate against us. We are not denied a few rights, we are being denied our basic freedom and dignity.

No longer can I stand before you in speeches and rallies urging you to stay the course. The course needs changing and we need to toughen up in the process. Yes, we must continue fighting but this time, instead of responding to their strategy, we must forge our own. Make no mistake about it. The days of acquiesce are over. There is no option except one at this stage and that is full equality now.

Freedom,Liberty,Justice are not mere words. They represent a way of life that is being denied to LGBT Americans every day of our lives.

Enough. No More, Enough

We Are not Crumbs; We Must Not Accept Crumbs


by Larry Kramer
Remarks on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of ACT UP
NY Lesbian and Gay Community Center
March 13, 9007

Rodger McFarlane, Eric Sawyer, Jim Eigo, Peter Staley, Troy Masters, Mark Harrington, David Webster, Jeremy Waldron, and Hannah Arendt contributed to the following remarks.

One day AIDS came along. It happened fast. Almost every man I was friendly with died. Eric still talks about his first boyfriend, 180 pounds, 28 years old, former college athlete, who became a 119 pound bag of bones covered in purple splotches in months. Many of us will always have memories like this that we can never escape.

Out of this came ACT UP. We grew to have chapters and affinity groups and spin-offs and affiliations all over the world. Hundreds of men and women once met weekly in New York City alone. Every single treatment against HIV is out there because of activists who forced these drugs out of the system, out of the labs, out of the pharmaceutical companies, out of the government, into the world. It is an achievement unlike any other in the history of the world. All gay men and women must let ourselves feel colossally proud of such an achievement. Hundreds of millions of people will be healthier because of us. Would that they could be grateful to us for saving their lives.

So many people have forgotten, or never knew what it was like. We must never let anyone forget that no one, and I mean no one, wanted to help dying faggots. Sen. Edward Kennedy described it in 2006 as “the appalling indifference to the suffering of so many.” Ronald Reagan had made it very clear that he was “irrevocably opposed” to anything to do with homosexuality. It would be seven years into his reign before he even said the word “AIDS” out loud, by which time almost every gay man in the entire world who’d had sex with another man had been exposed to the virus. During this entire time his government issued not one single health warning, not one single word of caution. Who cares if a faggot dies. I believe that Ronald Reagan is responsible for more deaths than Adolf Hitler. This is not hyperbole. This is fact.

These are just a few of the things ACT UP did to make the world pay attention: We invaded the offices of drug companies and scientific laboratories and chained ourselves to the desks of those in charge. We chained ourselves to the trucks trying to deliver a drug company’s products. We liberally poured buckets of fake blood in public places. We closed the tunnels and bridges of New York and San Francisco. Our Catholic kids stormed St. Patrick’s at Sunday Mass and spit out Cardinal O’Connor’s host. We tossed the ashes from dead bodies from their urns on to the White House lawn. We draped a gigantic condom over Jesse Helms’ house. We infiltrated the floor of the New York Stock Exchange for the first time in its history so we could confetti the place with flyers urging the brokers to “SELL WELLCOME.” We boarded ourselves up inside Burroughs-Wellcome, (now named GlaxoSmithKline), which owns AZT, in Research Triangle so they had to blast us out. We had regular demonstrations, Die-Ins we called them, at the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health, at City Halls, at the White House, in the halls of Congress, at government buildings everywhere, starting with our first demonstration on Wall Street, where crowds of us lay flat on the ground with our arms crossed over our chests or holding cardboard tombstones until the cops had to cart us away by the vans-full. We had massive demonstrations at the FDA and the NIH. There was no important meeting anywhere that we did not invade, interrupt, and infiltrate. We threatened Bristol-Myers that if they did not distribute it immediately we would manufacture it ourselves and distribute a promising drug some San Francisco activists had stolen from its Canadian factory and had duplicated. (The drug, now known as Videx, was released. Ironically Videx was discovered at Yale, where I went to school and with whom I am still engaged in annoyingly delicious activist battles to shape them up; they too are a stubborn lot.) We utterly destroyed a Hoffmann-LaRoche luncheon when they delayed a decent drug’s release. And always, we went after the New York Times for their shockingly, tragically, inept reporting of this plague. We plastered this city with tens of thousands of stickers reading, “Gina Kolata of the New York Times is the worst AIDS reporter in America.” We picketed the Fifth Avenue home of the publisher of the Times, one Arthur Sulzberger. We picketed everywhere. You name a gross impediment and we picketed there, from our historic 24-hour round the clock for seven days and nights picket of Sloan Kettering to another hateful murderer, our closeted mayor, Edward I. Koch. 3000 of us picketed that monster at City Hall. And, always we protested against our ignoble presidents: Reagan. We actually booed him at a huge AmFAR benefit in Washington. He was not amused. And Bush. 2500 of us actually tracked him down at his vacation home in Kennebunkport, Maine, which did not know what had hit it. And Clinton. I cannot tell you what a disappointment he was for us. He was such a bullshitter, as I fear his wife to be. And Bush again. The newest and most evil emperor in the fullest most repellant plumage. We can no longer summon those kinds of numbers to go after him.
A lot of us got arrested a lot of times. A lot of us. A lot of us. We kept our lawyer members busy. It actually was a wonderful feeling being locked up behind bars in cells with the brothers and sisters you have fought with side by side for what you fervently believe is right.

Slowly we were noticed and even more slowly we were listened to.

Along this journey some of our members taught themselves so much about our illness and the science of it and the politics of it and the bureaucracy of it that we soon knew more than anyone else did. We got ourselves into meetings with drug company scientists who could not believe our people weren’t doctors. I took a group to a meeting with Dr. Anthony Fauci, whom I had called our chief murderer in publications across the land. Dr. Fauci was and still is the government’s chief AIDS person, the Director of Infectious Diseases at NIH. We were able to show him how inferior all his plans and ideas under consideration were compared to the ones that we had figured out in minute detail. We told him what they should be doing and were not doing. We showed him how he and all his staff of doctors and scientists and researchers and statisticians did not understand this patient population and that we did. By then we had located our own doctors and scientists and researchers and statisticians to talk to, some of them even joining us. When our ideas were tried, they worked. We were consistently right. Our “chief murderer” Dr. Fauci became our hero when he opened the doors at NIH and let us in, an historic moment and an historic gesture. Soon we were on the very committees we had picketed, and soon we were making the most important decisions for treating our own bodies. We redesigned the whole system of clinical trials that is in use to this day for every major illness. And of course, we got those drugs out. And the FDA approval for a new drug that once took an average of 7-12 years can now be had in less than one. ACT UP did all this. My children—you must forgive me for coming to think of them as that—most of whom are dead. You must have some idea what it is like when your children die. Most of them did not live to enjoy the benefits of their courage. They were courageous because they knew they might die. They could and were willing to fight because they felt they soon would die and there was nothing to lose, and maybe everything to gain.
And of course funeral after funeral after funeral. We made funerals into an art form, too, just as our demonstrations, our street theater, our graphics, many of which are now in museums and art galleries, were all art forms as well. God, we were so creative as we were dying.

It is important to celebrate. But it is hard to do so when so many of us aren’t here. At least that is the way for me. I know we are twenty years old. It seems impossible to me that it has been so many years. I remember much of it as if it were yesterday. It is difficult to celebrate when one has such potent, painful tragic memories. We held so many of each other in our arms. One never forgets love like that. Make no mistake, AIDS was and is a terrible tragedy that need not have escalated into a worldwide plague. There were 41 cases when I started. There are some 75 million now. It takes a lot of help from a lot of enemies to rack up a tally like that.

Rodger McFarlane made this list of ACT UP’s achievements: accelerated approval of investigational new drugs; expanded compassionate use of experimental drugs and new applications of existing drugs; mathematical alternatives to the deadly double-blind-placebo-controlled studies of old; rigorous statistical methods for community-based research models; accelerated and expanded research in basic immunology, virology, and pharmacology; public exposure of and procedural remedies to sweetheart practices between the NIH and FDA on one hand and pharmaceutical companies on the other (now, with our own decline, unfortunately out of control again); institutionalized consumer oversight and political scrutiny of FDA approvals for all drug classes and for vast NIH appropriations for research in every disease; state drug assistance programs; and vastly expanded consumer oversight of insurance and Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement formularies. Each of these reforms profoundly benefits the health and survival of hundreds of millions of people far, far beyond AIDS and will do so for generations to come.

To this I might add that out of ACT UP came Needle Exchange and Housing Works and AID for AIDS and The AIDS Treatment Data Network and the Global AIDS Action Committee and HealthGAP and TAG, too, the Treatment Action Group.

Perhaps you did not know we did all this. As we know, historians do not include gay anything in their histories. Gays are never included in the history of anything.

Dr. Fauci now tells the world that modern medicine can be divided into two periods. Before us and after us. “ACT UP put medicine back in the hands of the patients, which is where it belongs,” he said to the New Yorker.

How could a population of gay people, call us the survivors, or the descendents, of those who did all this, be so relatively useless now? Maybe useless is too harsh. Ineffectual. Invisible. No, useless is not too harsh. Oh let us just call ourselves underutilized. As long as I live I will never figure this out.

Then, we only had the present. We were freed of the responsibility of thinking of the future. So we were able to act up. Now we only have our future. Imagine thinking that way. Those who had no future now only have a future. That includes not only everyone in this room but gay people everywhere. We are back to worrying about what “they” think about us. It seems we are not so free, most of us, to act up now. Our fear had been turned into energy. We were able to cry out fuck you fuck you fuck you. Troy Masters, the publisher of LGNY, wrote to me: ACT UP recognized evil and confronted it loudly.

Yes, we confronted evil. For a while.

We don’t say fuck you, fuck you, fuck you anymore. At least so anyone can hear.

Well the evil things that made me angry then still make me angry now. I keep asking around, doesn’t anything make you angry, too? Doesn’t anything make anyone angry? Or are we back in 1981, surrounded and suffocated by people as uninterested in saving their lives as so many of us were in 1981. I made a speech and wrote a little book called The Tragedy of Today’s Gays about all this. That was about two years ago. Lots of applause. Lots of thanks. No action.

There was a Danish study a few weeks ago. The life expectancy after infection by HIV is now thirty-five years. Thirty five years. Can you imagine that? That is because of ACT UP. A bunch of kids who learned how to launch street actions and release a propaganda machine and manipulate media masterfully, and use naked coercion, occasional litigations, and adept behind-the-scenes maneuverings that led to sweeping institutional changes with vast ramifications. We drove the creation of hundreds of AIDS service organizations across the country, leveraging hundreds of millions of dollars a year and fielding tens of thousands of volunteers, all the while amassing a huge body of clinical expertise and moral authority unprecedented among any group of patients and advocates in medical history.

We did all this. And we got all those drugs. The NIH didn’t get all those drugs. The FDA didn’t get all those drugs. We got all those drugs. And we rammed them down their fucking throats until they approved them and released them.

It was very useful, old ACT UP.

It is no longer useful. The old ACT UP is no longer useful enough. There are not enough of us. Few people go to meetings. Our chapters have evaporated. Our voice has dimmed in its volume and its luster. Our protests are no longer heard.

We must be heard! We must be.

We are not crumbs! We should not accept crumbs! We must not accept crumbs! There is not one single candidate running for public office anywhere that deserves our support. Not one. Every day they vote against us in increasingly brutal fashion. I will not vote for a one of them and neither should you. To vote for any one of them, to lend any one of them your support, is to collude with them in their utter disdain for us. And we must let every single one of them know that we will not support them. Perhaps it will win them more votes, that faggots won’t support them, but at least we will have our self-respect. And, I predict, the respect of many others who have long wondered why we allow ourselves to be treated so brutally year after year after year, as they take away our manhood, our womanhood, our personhood. There is not one single one of them, candidate or major public figure, that, given half a chance, would not sell us down the river. We have seen this time after time, from Bill Clinton with his Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and his full support of the hideous Defense of Marriage Act (talk about selling us down the river), to Hillary with her unacceptable waffling on all our positions. The woman does not know how to make simple declarative statements that involve definite details. (Read David Mixner on Hillary and Bill. It’s scary. Go to his site: DMixner@AOL.com). To Ann Coulter calling people faggots and queers and getting away with it. As Andrew Sullivan responded to her: “The emasculation of men in minority groups is an ancient trope of the vilest bigotry!” To this very morning’s statement to the world by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, that he believes the 65,000 lesbian and gay troops fighting right this very minute for our country are immoral. That our country’s top soldier can say something like this out loud and get away with it is disgusting.

If I am going after Hillary and Bill Clinton it is because I think she just might win, or should I say they might win. Two for the price of one will prove irresistible. Thus it is important to go after the Clintons now, while it still might be possible to negotiate their acceptance and support of our concerns, nay our demands, instead of climbing on their bandwagon that is akin to a juggernaut smashing all in their way as David Mixner describes. Too many gay and lesbians and our organizations are giving her fundraisers and kissing her ass too unreservedly and way way too early. As for Bill, yes, he is at last doing great work for AIDS in Africa but it sure would be nice if we had his generics in America for all those who fall through the cracks of the Ryan White Drug Assistance Program. Have you noticed how fashionable it is for foundations and the two Bills, Gates and Clinton, to do AIDS good deeds in Africa and obviously much too unfashionable to do them in America? I don’t like this woman, but I could, if she wasn’t cockteasing us just like her husband did.

We are not crumbs! We must not accept crumbs!

The CDC says some 300,000 men who had sex with men have died during the past 20 years. If I knew at last 500 of them, I know this CDC figure is a lie. Just as I know the CDC figure of gay people as only several percentage points of the population is a lie, instead of the at least some 20% of the population that the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School calculates it is possible to maintain. Who says that intentional genocide of “us” by “them” isn’t going on? They don’t want us here. When are we going to face up to this?

We are discriminated against at every turn. As we prepare to die the older among us will be taxed beyond belief. That prevents us leaving our estates to our lovers or to gay charities. God forbid the latter should happen, that gays with any money should endow gay organizations with all their gay riches. Do you think I am being too elitist in this concern? Well, you are using this gay and lesbian community center now. How do you think it supports itself? Taxation without representation is what led to our Revolutionary War. Well, way over two hundred years later gay people still have no equality. Gays are equal to nothing good or acceptable in this country. It is criminal how they treat us. We get further and further from progress and equality with each passing year. George Bush will leave a legacy of hate that will take who knows how many eons to cleanse away. He has packed every court in the land with a conservative judge who serves for life. He has staffed every single government job from high to low with a conservative inhabitant who, under the laws of Civil Service, cannot be removed. So even with the most tolerant of new Presidents we will be unable to break free from this yoke of hate for as long as most of us will live. Congresspersons now call judges to pressure them, which is illegal, and if the President doesn’t like a judge’s record, he fires them, which is also illegal. The Supreme Court is not going to give us our equality in any foreseeable future, and it is from the Supreme Court that it must come. They are the law of this land that will not make us equal. If that is not hate, if what I am talking about does not represent hate, I do not know what hate is. We are crumbs to them, if even that.

This is not just about gay marriage. Political candidates only talk about gay marriage, making nicey-nice maybes. But they are not talking about gay equality. And we are not demanding that they talk about the kind of equality I am talking about, marriage or no marriage. Gay marriage is a useful red herring for them to pretend they are talking about gays when they are not. For some reason our movement has confined its feeble demands to marriage. Well, my lover and I don’t want to get married just yet but we sure want to be equal.

I wish I could make all gay people everywhere accept this one fact I know to be an undisputed truth. We are hated. Haven’t enough of us died for all of us to believe this? Some seventy million cases of HIV were all brewed in a cauldron of hate.

Mark Harrington said to me last week that one of the great things about ACT UP was that it made us proud to be gay. Our activism came out of love. Our activism came out of our love for each other as we tried to take care of each other, and to keep each other alive.

No one is looking out for us anymore the way ACT UP looked out for us once upon a time.

ACT UP is not saving us now. This is not meant as finger-pointing or blame. It just is. No one goes to meetings and our chapters all over the globe have almost disappeared. And we must recognize this, I beg of you.

I don’t want to start another organization. And yet I know we must start another organization. Or at the very least administer major shock therapy to this one.

And I know that if we do go down a new road, we must do it right and just accept this fact that the old ACT UP we knew is no longer useful enough to the needs that we have now and move on to reparative therapy.

I also know that any organization that we start now must be an army. You have resisted this word in the past. Perhaps now that the man in charge of America’s army is calling you immoral you won’t resist it army anymore. We must field an organized army with elected leaders and a chain of command. It must be a gay army with gay leaders fighting for gay people under a gay flag, in gay battle formations against our common enemies, uncontaminated by any fear of offending or by any sense that this might not be the time to say what we really need to say. We must cease our never-ending docile cooperation with a status quo that never changes in its relationship to us. We are cutting our own throats raising money for Hillary or Obama or Kerry or, God forbid, Giuliani, or anyone until they come out in full support of all the things I am talking about, not just some tepid maybe-maybes about second-class partnership pieces of worthless paper. Immigration. Taxation without representation. Safety. Why aren’t they all supporting Hate Crimes bills that include us? Twenty-thousand Christian youths now make an annual pilgrimage to San Francisco to pray for gay souls. I am sorry but this is not free speech. This is another version of hate. If any organization sent 20,000 Christian youths to pray for Jewish souls they would lose their tax-exempt status, or they would have before George Bush. Do we protest? It is very wearying to witness our carrying on so passively year after year, particularly now that all of us—and I mean all of us—have been given the gift of staying alive. I know that young gays don’t think this way, but many of us died to give you this gift of staying alive. You are alive because of us. I wish you would see this. And we all owe it to the dead as well as to ourselves to continue a fight that we have stopped fighting.

We do not seem to realize that the more we become visible, the more that more and more of us come out of the closet, the more vulnerable we become to the more and more increasingly visible hate against us. In other words, the more they see us, the more they hate us. The more new gays they see, the more new ways they find to hate us. We do not seem to realize that the more we urge each other to come out—which indeed we must never stop doing—the more we must protect ourselves for and from our exits from our closet on to the stage of the world that hates us more and more. I don’t think we realize this and we must. We must.

Why do I think we need the word “army”? Because it connotes strength and discipline, which we desperately need to convey. Because it scares people, and God knows nobody is all that scared of us. Which they were for a while. The drug companies were afraid of us. The NIH and FDA were afraid of us. Closeted everybodies were afraid of us. No more. Our days of being democratic to a flaw at those endless meetings must cease. It has been a painful lesson to learn but democracy does not protect us. Unity does. United commitment to confront our many foes.

We never consider the establishment of a gay army, just as in the approach of the Holocaust the Jews did not consider one, even though urged, no begged, no implored to do so by their great philosopher, Hannah Arendt, who had the tragic misfortune to see what was coming and to not have her warnings heeded or even believed. Why only last week Mr. Obama implored his people, albeit with a certain timidity: “Put on your marching shoes! Go do some politics! Change this country!” If all the blacks in this country did all that, he would not only win but they would have the power they never have.

What we refuse to see is what is going on around us, believing it is happening to others but not believing that it can happen to us: the use and defense of torture, concentrations of prisoners regarded as threats to America in camps where they languish indefinitely beyond the reach of law; hidden “duplicate” governments existing under the auspices of the homeland security state, shadowing the constitutional government but secret and free of legal constraint.” (Waldron). You don’t think any of this can happen to you. I do. You don’t think that any of those “political” prisoners shipped off to camps are gay? You’re wrong. Much of the Episcopalian church is now aligning itself with Nigeria. Homosexuality is a punishable crime in Nigeria, in Ghana, in Iran, in Saudi Arabia, in a hundred different countires, as is any activism on behalf of it. Punishable means prison. Punishable means death. The Nigerian head archbishop of the Episcopalian church believes we should be put in prison. Episcopalians! Whoever thought we’d have to worry about Episcopalians. Well, whoever thought we’d have to worry about Wyoming. Matthew Shepard was murdered in Wyoming.

When will we acknowledge that we are constantly being lied to? We must have fiercely observant eyes. We must understand and confront the unprecedented, with “attentive facing up to, and resistance of, reality—whatever that might be.”(Arendt) Intelligent people—and gays are certainly that—have proved more than once that we are less capable of judging for ourselves than almost any other social group. When a conservative columnist can get away with calling presidential candidates “a faggot” and “a queer,” without any serious reprisals, than why can’t we see that we are in trouble? When the New York Times does not run an obituary on quite possibly the most famous lesbian in modern times, Barbara Gittings, than we are in trouble. When I can’t get US News and World Report to publish a letter about an insidiously homophobic cover story they wrote on Jamestown, we’re in trouble. When our country’s top military officer can call us immoral, we’re in trouble.

No, ACT UP is not saving us now. No one is saving us now.

We all think we have straight friends. We think if we have straight friends then everything is OK. But these friends are not protesting with us. They aren’t fighting with us. They enjoy the freedoms they have with their marriages and all their fringe benefits. Yes, they like us but are they going to sacrifice any of their freedoms to get us ours? Of course not. And what’s more we should not expect them to. Even though it sure would be nice; we’ve fought for them and theirs often enough.

The old ACT UP model served us well but it is time to take the next step. I am not saying that there are not more fights to be had for AIDS. There are and we must continue to fight them. Infections are up again. Prevention efforts are not good enough. It is still illegal for HIV foreigners to enter America. But these issues no longer appear to excite sufficient participation. Few people come to meetings and our chapters have disappeared. Many of us have tried to figure out what happened to us and why we ceased to be what we were. We all have thoughts about what happened but as I said I think its time to stop trying to figure it out and just move on. Expanding our demands will hopefully not silence our past concerns but invite increased numbers to meld these newer concerns I am talking about into a stronger, total mix.

ACT UP requires a new model to do this. A new model that will allow for different kinds of actions, tactics and issues, not just HIV. I am not asking you if you even want another organization. I am hoping that you are smart enough to realize—eureka!—that the great deeds we once accomplished which changed history can be accomplished again. For we are still facing the same danger, our extermination, and from the same enemy, our own country, our own country’s “democratic process.” Day after day our country declares that we are not equal to anything at all. All the lives we saved are nothing but crumbs if we still aren’t free. And we still aren’t free. Gay people still aren’t free.

Go to Queens, go to Jamaica, go to Iran, go to Wyoming, we still aren’t free. How many places in this country, in this world, can we walk down a street holding a beloved’s hand? I went to my nephew’s wedding in Jamaica twenty years ago. They are out for blood against gay men in Jamaica now. They do it to you the minute you get off the plane. There are men with iron crowbars waiting to maim you at the airport. Does our government protest? Of course not. Who cares if a faggot dies. They are actually beheading gays in Iran. This is progress? The European Parliament which in the past had played a key role in advancing gay rights worldwide, is about to be taken over by conservative delegates that will strengthen their neo-fascist bloc, which will actually call for capital punishment for homosexuals. You don’t think that any of this can’t happen here? I do. Our country’s top soldier said so this morning. We are immoral. The Mayor of Moscow calls us dirt. Polish leaders call us scum. Ann Coulter calls us sissies. General Pace calls us immoral. Who cares if a faggot dies. A gay person murdered in Iraq or Libya or Nigeria or Jamaica or Ghana or Saudi Arabia is the same as a gay person murdered here. Why do I harp so on gay murders in foreign countries. Because gay murders in Iran have a way of becoming gay hate in Paris and London and Chicago and in the highest rank of US Army. Particularly when our own government ignores all attacks against us anywhere. Who cares of a faggot dies. It is all one world now. The disposal of gay people is an equal opportunity employer and hate is a disease that spreads real fast. I repeat: a gay kid murdered anywhere is a gay kid murdered here.

Yes, we have many things to worry about now besides HIV.

You can get married now in New Jersey but New York judges handed down some of the most bigoted “legal” hate outside of Iran, where as I have just said they are now actually decapitating gay men. They are stringing up gay boys and putting masks over their heads and hanging them as Saddam Hussein was hanged. For being gay. Does our government protest? Does any government protest? Of course not. Who cares if a faggot dies. Do you have friends in love with partners forbidden from entering America? To be separated by force from the one you love is one of the saddest things I can think of. What kind of police state do we live in? This is not right. This is wrong. It does not happen for straight lovers. It can only happen to gays who live in a country where we are hated. How many years do we have to endure being treated like this? If countries like Australia and New Zealand recognize relationship residencies for mixed nationalities, why can’t we? There was not one single demonstration against those New York judges, or indeed against any judges who are such dictators of our lives, where they work and live and sleep each night. They cannot be allowed to continue to hate us so legally. America cannot be allowed to continue to hate us so actively. It is not right. It is wrong. Don’t right and wrong mean anything anymore? Why are we not specifically included in Hate Crimes laws in many states? How many Matthew Shepherds must there be before we are specifically included in Hate Crime laws in every state?

We have right on our side and we must make everyone know it. If ACT UP is to stand for anything, let it stand for our Army Corps to Unleash Power.

Think about it. Think about all of this. Please.

We are the only people in America that it is socially acceptable to hate and discriminate against. Indeed so much hate of us exists that it is legally acceptable to pass constitutional amendments to hate us even more. This is democracy? This is how our courts and laws protect us? These are the equal rights for all that America’s Bill of Rights proclaims for all?

The biggest enemy we must fight continues to be our own government. How dare we stop? We cannot stop. We are not crumbs and we must not accept crumbs and we must stop acting like crumbs.

ACT UP is the most successful grass roots organization that ever lived. Period. There never was, never has been one more successful that has achieved as much as we. We did it before. We can do it again. But to be successful, activism must be practiced every day. By a lot of people. It made us proud once. It united us.

I constantly hear in my ears the refrain: “an army of lovers cannot lose.” Then why are we losing so? We must trust each other to an extent we never have, enough to allow the appointment of leaders and a chain of command to stay on top of things and keep some sort of order so that we not only don’t self destruct as we seem to have more or less done, but also, this time, as we did not do before, institutionalize ourselves for longevity.

I am very aware that as I spin this out I am creating reams of unanswered questions. Well, we didn’t know when we first met in this very room twenty years ago what we wanted ACT UP to become. But we figured it out. Bit by bit and piece by piece we put it together. We have a lot to thrash out and codify in a more private fashion. Armies shouldn’t show all their cards to the world. Many parts of the old ACT UP will still serve us: the choices of a variety of issues to obsess us in the detail that we became famous for; the use of affinity groups that develop their own forms of guerilla warfare. Our call for Health Care for All must still be sought. I have a personal bug up my ass that gay history is not taught in the schools. Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were gay. It may be up to activists to ram this truth down the throats of America because gay historians are too timid to. Timidity is so boring, don’t you agree?

Much of what I am calling for involves laws, changing them, getting them. We need to cobble together an omnibus gay rights bill and then hold every politician’s feet to this fire until he or she supports it. We’d find out fast enough who are friends aren’t. TAG and AmFAR once cobbled together a bunch of research priorities into a bill that they got through congress.

How about this: Jim Eigo wrote me: “a full generation after AIDS emerged as a recognizable disease, having sex still poses the same risk for HIV infection or reinfection. Having a sexual encounter with another person—a central, meaningful activity in most people’s lives—has been shadowed by fear, by the prospect of a long-term disease and by a whole new reason for guilt for more than a quarter of a century now. How have we allowed this unnatural state of affairs to persist for so long? Where are the 21st century tools for preventing the sexual transmission of HIV: cheap, effective, and utterly unobtrusive. Lovers deserve nothing less. Instead of sinking time, effort, and money into excavating the fossils of its ancient achievement, ACT UP might consider marking its birthday by mounting a fresh drive to remind government and industry that people have a right to sex without fear, without being forced to make a choice between pleasure and health. It’s an issue that might actually speak across the divides of generation, race, gender and sero-status. And it might regain for the organization some measure of the relevance it once had for the grassroots activists that gave of themselves as if their lives depended on it, because they really did.” Jim is calling for nothing less than the reclamation of our sex lives. What an utterly fantastic notion, or shall I now say goal? Why even raising this issue will find us hated even more. I am so ready for another organized fight.

Are you beginning to see how all this that I am talking about can be streamed into one new ACT UP army?

I have asked Eric to convey the main difference of what is available to us now that we did not have to work with in the past:

“In the age of the internet we can do much of what we did in our meetings and on the streets, on the world wide web.

“The information technology available today could help end the need for those endless meetings.

“Creating a blog could, in fact, incorporate even more voices and varieties of opinions and ideas than any meeting ever could.

“Where ACT UP once had chapters in many cities, we could now involve thousands more via simple list-serves and blogs. We can draw in students and schools and colleges all over the world. It is the young we have to get to once again.

“Creating a blog would allow for expression and refinement of ideas and policies, like a Queer Justice League for denouncing our enemies.

“A well organized website could function as an electronic clearing house for sharing information, for posting problems, for demanding solutions, for developing and communicating action plans.

“List-serves and a website could coordinate grassroots organizing and mobilize phone, e-mail and physical zaps or actions. They could also be used to spotlight homophobic actions, articles, movies and tv, and laws.

“Why aren’t we fighting fire with fire? Where is our radical gay left think tank? We need our own “700 Club” and our own talk radio show. Developing such gay content programming for the LOGO or Here Networks or for streaming on-line is completely possible today. Why are all the shows our community is producing about fashion, decorating or just another gay soap?”

Why even Time Magazine is now stating as a fact that websites drive the agendas of political parties.

I know that even without these tools we reordered an entire world’s approach to a disease that would have killed us all. Surely with these tools and with all our creativity we can start to take control of our destinies again.

With these tools, and with a renewed commitment to love and support and to fight to save each other, with a renewed commitment to the anger that saved us once before, with the belief that anger, along with love, are the two most healthy and powerful emotions we are good at, I believe that we could have such a historical success again.

May I conclude these thoughts, these remarks toward the definition of a new ACT UP that will hopefully begin to be discussed forthwith, with this cry from my heart:

Farewell ACT UP.

Long live ACT UP.

Thank you.

Silicon Valley Leaders Denounce Prop 8 in Newspaper Ad


November 2, 2008
Printed in The San Jose Mercury News
Click the image for a full view

High Tech Business Executives, Venture Capital leaders to Urge Californians to Stand Up for Equality

Santa Clara – The leadership of the nation’s high-tech industry feels so strongly that Prop 8 is wrong and unfair, that a coalition of key leaders is running a full page advertisement in a major daily newspaper urging Californians to vote NO on Prop 8. The ad, running in Friday’s San Jose Mercury News, includes a list of “Who’s Who of the Silicon Valley”, including the founders and CEOs of Google, Yahoo!, Adobe Systems and Cisco Systems.

Prop 8 would eliminate the fundamental right to marry for same-sex couples in California by amending the state’s Constitution.

Jerry Yang, co-Founder of Yahoo! Inc. said, “Silicon Valley has always been an example for the rest of the country of how diversity and openness help to drive innovation and value creation. This divisive measure is the antithesis of those values that make Silicon Valley so unique.”

Chuck Geschke, Founder & Chairman, Adobe Systems Inc, said, “Equal rights under the law is one of the cornerstones of our California constitution and one of the guiding values for Silicon Valley leaders. Prop 8 would take the extreme step of amending our constitution to strip rights away from one group of people.”

“Today prominent leaders from across California – and around the nation – have become part of the NO on Prop 8 campaign,” said Geoff Kors, a NO on Prop 8 Executive Committee Member. “We welcome the support and leadership of these technology and business leaders who believe Prop 8 is unfair and must be defeated and we look forward to seeing that number grow.”

Below is the text of the ad:

Silicon Valley Leaders Urge You to Stand for Equality.

Vote No on Proposition 8.

As Silicon Valley leaders, we are committed to equality and fairness. We are opposed to Proposition 8 because it would change our state constitution to take away rights from one group of people. It would set our state, and our country, back in the fight for fundamental fairness and equal rights.

Please join us by reaching out to friends and neighbors and asking them to stand for fairness: Vote No on Proposition 8 on November 4th.

Silicon Valley Leaders Say NO on Proposition 8 (Updated Thursday, Oct 30, 2008)

(titles are for identification purposes only)

HONORARY CO-CHAIRS:

  • Sergey Brin, Founder, Google, Inc.
  • Bill Campbell, Chairman, Intuit Inc.
  • David Filo, Founder, Yahoo! Inc.
  • Chuck Geschke, Founder & Chairman, Adobe Systems, Inc.
  • John Morgridge, Former CEO & Chairman, Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Pierre Omidyar, Founder and Chairman, eBay Inc., Founding Partner, Omidyar Network
  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
  • Eric Schmidt, CEO, Google, Inc.
  • Jerry Yang, Founder, Yahoo! Inc.

LEADERS (partial list):

  • Deborah Barber, Principal, Jackson Hole Group
  • John Battelle, Chairman & CEO, Federated Media
  • Marc Benioff,CEO, Salesforce.com
  • Larry Birenbaum, Former Senior Vice President, Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Lorna Borenstein, President, Move, Inc.
  • Larry Brilliant, Executive Director, Google.org
  • Owen Byrd, President, Byrd Development
  • John Chisholm, Chairman & CEO, CustomerSat, Inc.
  • Barry Cinnamon, CEO, Akeena Solar
  • Tod Cohen, Vice President and Deputy General Council, Government Relations, eBay Inc.
  • LaDoris Cordell, Administrator, Stanford University
  • Sue Decker, President, Yahoo! Inc.
  • Jack Dorsey, Chairman, Twitter
  • David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development & Chief Legal Officer, Google, Inc.
  • Donna Dubinsky, CEO, Numenta, Inc.
  • Alan Eustace, SVP, Engineering and Research, Google, Inc.
  • Naomi Fine, President & CEO, Pro-Tec Data, Inc.
  • Rachel Glaser COO/CFO, Reunion.com
  • Carl Guardino, President & CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group
  • Andre Haddad, CEO, Shopping.com
  • Jeff Hawkins, co-Founder Palm, Handspring, and Numenta
  • David Karnstedt, Investor
  • Scott Kaspick, Managing Director, Kaspick & Co.
  • Steve Kirsch, Serial Entrepreneur
  • John Koza, CEO, Third Millennium
  • Ross LaJeunesse, Head of State Policy Western US, Google, Inc.
  • Gary Lauder, Managing Partner, Lauder Partners Venture Capital
  • Laura Lauder, General Partner, Lauder Partners Venture Capital
  • Len Lehman, Investor
  • Dan’l Lewin, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Corporation
  • John Luongo, Former CEO, Vantive Corporation
  • Roger McNamee, Managing Director & co-Founder, Elevation Partners
  • Ken McNeely, President, AT&T California
  • Michael Moritz, Partner, Sequoia Capital
  • Susan Packard Orr, CEO, Telosa Software, Inc.
  • Randy Pond, Executive Vice President, Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Amy Rao, Founder & CEO, Integrated Archive Systems
  • Jana Rich, Managing Director, Russell Reynolds
  • Miriam Rivera, Former Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Google, Inc.
  • John Roos, CEO, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
  • Jonathan Rosenberg, SVP, Product Management, Google, Inc.
  • Dan Rosensweig, Investor
  • Dan Rubin, Partner, Alloy Ventures
  • Hilary Schneider, Executive Vice President US Region, Yahoo! Inc.
  • Len Shustek, Chairman, Computer History Museum
  • Jeff Skoll, Former President, eBay Inc.
  • Stephanie Tilenius, SVP, eBay North America
  • Joy Weiss, President & CEO, Dust Networks
  • Steve Westly, former California State Controller & former SVP eBay Inc.
  • Evan Williams, CEO, Twitter

For a complete list of NO on 8 endorsements, visit http://www.noonprop8.com.

Why ‘yes’ on Proposition 8?: ‘Biology, not bigotry’ is the foundation for the traditional form of marriage.


by Maggie Gallagher
Los Angeles Times
November 01, 2008

As I travel across California and the country making the case for Proposition 8, I’m often asked, “Why do you care about restoring marriage?”

It’s a good question, and not just for me. Why are so many Californians rushing to street corners to hold up “Yes on 8” signs, enduring petty vandalism, and even pettier insults, to make the case for voting yes on Proposition 8?

It’s simple: Government did not create marriage. Marriage is older than the U.S. Constitution, older even than the Bible or the Koran. Marriage’s deepest roots are in human nature and human experience. Marriage, as a judge on the Connecticut Supreme Court wrote in his compelling dissent to that court’s recent ruling allowing gays to wed, is rooted “in biology, not bigotry.”

Marriage is a virtually universal human social institution with a certain recognizable shape: It is a public union, not just a private union; it’s a sexual union and not some other kind of union; it’s a union in which the rights and responsibilities of men and women toward each other — and toward the children of their union — are publicly defined and supported, not merely left up to individuals to figure out privately.

Why do so many diverse societies arrive at this core marriage idea? There is something special about unions of husband and wife.

The answer is not hard to see. When a baby is born, a mother is bound to be somewhere close by. But if we want fathers to be there for children, and the mothers of their children, biology alone will not take us very far. We need a cultural mechanism to connect fathers to the mother-child bond. We also need an institution that communicates to the next generation — in the throes of its own erotic and romantic dramas — how seriously society takes the need to discipline those dramas so that children do not get hurt.

The word for the way society makes this connection, not only in California but in virtually every known human society, is “marriage.” Marriage is a union of husband and wife because these kinds of unions are distinctive and necessary to the whole society.

If Californians vote no on Proposition 8, the great historical cross-cultural meaning of marriage will be replaced by the new government dogma on which gay marriage is based: There is no difference between same-sex unions and opposite-sex unions; anyone who thinks otherwise is just a bigot.

Our children will imbibe this new dogma in hundreds of ways, and the old marriage idea — marriage matters because children need a mother and a father, long for a mother and a father, deserve a mother and a father — will be publicly discredited as discriminatory.

A victory for Proposition 8 will not deprive same-sex couples of a single practical right or benefit under California state laws. Civil unions will continue to provide legal protections for same-sex families. But the people of California will reclaim from four state Supreme Court justices the right to define marriage as a union of husband and wife, for generations to come.

Maggie Gallagher is president of the National Organization for Marriage, which is a major contributor to the “Yes on 8” campaign.