Even for the watered-down and questionably useful compromise on DADT, time is running out. Congress will come back in session and be on a fast track to recess as soon as possible in this volatile election year. With analysts like Charlie Cook predicting that the House of Representatives might go Republican, Democrats will be even more leery of taking on anything that smacks of risks. Once they adjourn for recess, my guess is that they will meet only briefly after Labor Day.
This much we know: ENDA is dead for this year and if you believe Congressman Jackie Spiers, it is dead for at least five years. The repeal of DOMA has seen almost no action. We were taken out of the healthcare legislation. Most likely we will be taken out of the Immigration Reform legislation in the name of 'a greater good.' DADT is increasingly looking grim with passage of even the compromise in question. The list of bad news can go on and on.
The only question that needs to be answered "Is this acceptable to us two years into the Obama term?" And if not, how do we change tactics or escalate our actions in order to not leave our freedom in the hands of those who have chosen not to battle for them? Here are some ideas to consider:
1. STOP ENABLING: Anyone who has been even near a recovery program knows that the worst action a friend can take to someone who can't seem to 'get it together' is to enable them by explaining away their actions. Tough love is required from the LGBT community toward the Democratic party. No more 'understanding' why they have put us on the back burner yet one more time. No more explaining by our national organizations why with 58 Democratic Senators, a Democratic House and a liberal Democratic President we have failed after all this time to move on the 'Big Three.' No more taking a tough line rhetorically and then telling them all is forgiven by giving them money, resources and praise. We have to stop giving them permission to hurt and disappoint us time and time again.
2. DEMAND STOP LOSS: The President has the power today to issue a 'stop-loss' order until a military report is issued and the process to officially end DADT is begun. After all, they all say it is a given that it is over so lets not destroy anyone else's lives or dreams because the political timing is not right.
3. JUSTICE AT JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: The Department of Justice has been a hostile place for the LGBT agenda. They have spent more time fighting our rights in court than defending them. While looking for ways to intervene in Arizona, they have not even attempted to be part of the Proposition 8 case. Surely, Attorney General Eric Holder can find ways to help with the vast organization he has at his disposal. His refusing to take a stand in Maine the week before the vote was unforgivable.
4. MAKE WAY FOR NEW WAYS: Clearly the 'pretty please lobbying' we have be doing is simply not working. Never will we have better margins in Congress than we have had the last two years and we are ending up with almost nothing. We need to embrace new groups, new ways, and new ideas. Failing institutions should be held accountable and those who are pushing for full equality should be celebrated and supported. Organizations like Get Equal and the new exciting Friend Factor offer alternative tactics to support our traditional ways of organizing and demanding full equality.
5. PRACTICE POLITICAL TOUGH LOVE: Every two years they throw the 'we are better than the other guys' and imply that if we don't support people in the Democratic party who haven't supported us then we will be the ones responsible for any conservative victory. Bull! It is their lack of courage, inability to lead and tepid inspiration that have created their own political fate. We must no longer support anyone who is not for full equality and that includes marriage equality. No longer support political committees that give money to those who vote against us. We must seek out those candidates who do support full equality (and there are a huge number these days) and give them our support. We also must be willing to support primaries in the future against those within the Democratic party who don't support us