Pennsylvania has been part of history this week with a groundswell of action to successfully squelch the Marriage Protection Amendment (plus, our own Pgh Blog for Equality). Yeah, us!
Today, eyes turned first to the Internet, then DC, then more to DC and now as I type … across the nation.
The day started with another blogswarm, this one dedicated to urging movement on the ENDA. The goal was to generate pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to make things happen. Dozens of bloggers posted and the phone calls overwhelmed the phone system. From Bilerico:
Reports from Pelosi's office indicate that hundreds of calls were received before the phone lines shut down. While the intent of the blogswarm was to indicate support for moving ENDA, rather than shutting down the phone lines, the obvious point is that there is a great deal of support among the LGBTQ community and its allies for moving ENDA. Let no one say that we do not lobby hard.
Then things get interesting.
Lt. Dan Choi and other members of GetEqual, a new direct action LGBTQ group chained themselves to the White House gate to demand action on repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
From Pam's House Blend:
Choi was speaking at the HRC rally at Freedom Plaza when he asked the group's executive director, Joe Solmonese, if he would march to the White House. Both Choi and Pietrangelo were discharged from the military under DADT. Choi is the founder of Knights Out, a West Point alumni organization supporting LGBT soldiers.
“You've been told that the White House has a plan,” Choi told rally protesters. “But we learned this week that the president is still not fully committed. … Following this rally, I will be leading [the protest] to the White House to say 'enough talk.' … I am still standing, I am still fighting, I am still speaking out, and I am still gay.”
Lt. Choi and two others were arrested and are still being detailed as I type this.
Unrelated to the blogswarm, online activists of the organization GetEqual, a new direct action organization dedicated to LGBTQ equality, conducted coordinated nonviolent sit-ins at Speaker Pelosi's DC and SF offices.
Reports from Twitter indicate that 5 persons have been arrested from this action.
For the latest updates, follow @GetEqual on Twitter.
Still, there's more.
Activisits in San Francisco organized coordinated protest sit-ins in Pelosi's district offices. There are rumbling of nationwide late night gathering to protest the detainment of the protestors.
LGBT leaders are discussing the ramification of direct action versus advocacy led by the mainstream organizations. That discussion is important, but Pittsburgh and statewide advocates can learn some lessons from the powerful image of Lt. Choi chaining himself to the White House gates. We have relinquished a lot of power to behind the scenes political donors and there is absolutely no infrastructure to support direct action tactics. The self-appointed advocates are not talking with the activists from the Dyke March and Bash Back. To be fair, that's a two way lack of communication.
Let's hope the conversation continues and trickles down into viable coordinated action on a local level. This may be wishful thinking on my part.