Dr. Jillian T. Weiss opened her piece at Bilerico, entitled Why I Am Working With GetEqual, with this opening line:
I have decided to work with GetEqual as a member of its provisional Board of Directors.
Her piece then follows her reasoning why. She, as a great attorney should, makes her case with facts, statistics, and personal experiences with the legislative process as to why she’s going from a more inside game to a more outside game on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights.
Well, I too have decided to join GetEqual’s provisional board of directors. I’m not so logically organized in my decision to join with GetEqual in the same way as Professor Weiss is. No, I’m looking at the precedents set by previous civil rights movements; I’m looking at the process and tactics of other civil rights movements. Martin Luther King Jr. gives me a good reasons why in his Letter From A Birmingham Jail. Some excerpts from that letter:
I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.
I’ve lost patience with the Congress and The President with regards to legislative process on LGBT issues. However, I’ve seen what direct action did to the pace of Congress and the President in dealing with the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT); it created the tension that gave the LGBT community what little movement we’ve seen with regards to its repeal.
So for me, freedom, equality, and justice for the LGBT community is not about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, it’s not about the Repeal of the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA), and the repeal of DADT. For me, freedom, equality, and justice for the LGBT community is about people in our broad community. As Cesar Chavez said about his community’s civil rights struggle:
The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.
He also said this:
It is possible to become discouraged about the injustice we see everywhere. But God did not promise us that the world would be humane and just. He gives us the gift of life and allows us to choose the way we will use our limited time on earth. It is an awesome opportunity.
I’m not discouraged or disheartened. I believe it’s time for nonviolent direct action to work to achieve freedom, equality, and justice for the LGBT community. And. I have awesome opportunity to push society further forward into becoming a society that is more humane and just.
So, one of the ways I’m going to use my limited time left hear on earth is joining together with GetEqual to work to create a more humane and just society.
And too, I have a responsibility to the blenders here to let my affiliations be known. This is because my current and past affiliations do impact what I write on; these will color my expressed viewpoints. When I’m functioning in “new media reporter mode” (reporting with a visible agenda), folk here need to know that as a GetEqual Provisional Boardmember, GetEqual and direct action are part of my visible agenda. And too, sometimes I’ll know more about GetEqual’s operations than I will be able to disclose.
That all said, as of today I’m officially affiliated with GetEqual.
Today I’m up a bit north of Los Angeles preparing to go to the first meeting of the GetEqual’s Provisional board. Today I begin working towards freedom, equality, and justice in a way I haven’t done before with a group of like minded people.
Although it’s still dark outside here near Los Angeles as I write this diary, I can’t help but think that this, for me at least, is the beginning of a bright new day.