From Melanie Nathan
To Joe Solomonese
October 11, 2009
Well done! Last night was an amazing accomplishment having the President speak at your fundraiser dinner; his speech was supportive, motivating and awe inspiring and I was quite moved by the validation, especially after being so let down by President Clinton signing DOMA into law and the passage of Prop 8 here in California. After so many years of fighting, we get a resounding nod out of Washington. The validation for those 37 minutes was short lived as when the ‘rah rah’ was over the reality set in. Words, words and more words- and what about marriage?
While writing my BLOG last night, I found myself being both critical and grateful at the same time (www.oblogdeeoblogda.wordpress.com entitled I AM HERE WITH YOU IN THAT FIGHT and yet I give as much as the law allows?) Tossing and turning between the emphatic stance and the inadequacy of the detail, it left me wondering – how does this all translate into action? Where will it go? Any quicker than thus far – and what about the big cop-out, the part that the pundits, activists, bloggers, commentators seem to have missed or have chosen not to mention. Here is how I described it in my Blog:-
“However as the crowds enthusiasm escalated in familiar Obama engendered excitement, I could feel the expectation and the tacit drum roll as the President announced that he would see to it that “ LGBT couples would receive as many federal benefits and federal rights as much as the law allows”… the crowd went crazy… I think they thought he was heading on a path of overt commitment to the repeal of DOMA – and acknowledgment of our right to marry; but sadly he did not, instead he asserted this right to federal benefits by referring to a “domestic partners law” and did nothing new or different to endorse our right to marry under the civil law. The problem with saying “as much as the law allows” is the contradiction – DOMA ensures that the “LAW DOES NOT ALLOW!” So my mind was begging –“Mr. President please tell us how, when, you will ensure the repeal of DOMA – it is the Key – I do not want Federal benefits “as much as the law allows” because that is a big zero and I will get none. “
This morning, as expected, I received your email, Joe Solomonese from HRC, and your promise “ In the days and weeks ahead we’ll move quickly to capitalize on this momentum?” What momentum may I ask? What did the President say that provides this so called momentum? Are you asking me to accept a campaign speech as momentum?
The sad truth Joe, is that you brazenly center your ‘DONATE NOW’ button as you ask for our support for you to ‘capitalize on this momentum.’ You are asking us to pay you to condone the most significant and yet painful aspect of the speech –where the President expressly pronounced us ‘separate but equal!’ He blatantly stated that we would get Federal Benefits “as much as the law allows.” Well right now it allows zero and nothing hence begging the question – the President’s commitment to repeal DOMA – was bittersweet as instead of asserting our right to marry at the helm of this repeal, he threw in the words a DOMESTIC PARTNER ACT. What the heck was that? He thus specifically denounces our right to marriage equality as a prerequisite to receiving federal benefits – when – who the heck knows? This clear statement a tacit reminder, tantamount to an assertion, that he is opposed to same sex marriage is further endorsed by his failure to mention marriages in DC, Maine or any other State initiatives.
Do you not realize that this speech worked in direct contradiction to our champion Jerrold Nadler’s recent introduction of the respect for marriage Act?
Joe, what momentum? One where we agree to no marriage? I certainly hope not. Before you ask for our money can you tell us your plan and your thoughts and where you think this is going? Lets see if we agree. Lets see if the community at large agrees with your strategy.
Unless you go for the ALL and consult grass-root communities about strategy, and become more inclusive in your process, – you will not get my money! I am spending my money to get to D.C. myself, to lobby for what I want for me, my family and my community and that is nothing short of full equality, one where my marriage is legal and respected, and which will grant me the exact benefits that all heterosexual married couples in US receive. I do not want to be a victim of “as much as the law allows.”
I challenge all of you who are inclined to donate to the patronizing promoters of anything less than FULL equality, to take those hard earned dollars and some hours or days of your working time and to show up in D.C. at the offices of your Representatives. We must tell out stories ourselves and stop depending on these self appointed leaders who purport to speak for us all. We must go to DC now and ask for the REPEAL OF DOMA, during this 111th congress.
There were 250,000 people at the March. Can you imagine the impact if another 250,000 of us showed up at the doors of our respective reps asking what they are doing about DOMA and RMA? UAFA – DADT ENDA – whatever. My experience in D.C. has taught me that the organizations are viewed for the most part as ‘nudgers’ and with some disdain, while constituents are the most important people to the congressional representatives. They want your stories and they need your stories. So get creative and get out there – yourselves, individually or in groups. Cause mayhem if need be! Its enough! Its enough!
—– Original Message —–
From: Joe Solmonese, Human Rights Campaign
Sent: Sunday, October 11, 2009 7:13 AM
Subject: Obama speaks at HRC last night: watch the video
Dear Melanie,Just hours ago, President Obama took the podium at HRC’s National Dinner to talk directly to the LGBT community and our many friends and allies. Find out what Obama said – and be sure to share the news with your friends >>
Today, thousands of people are marching on Washington to demand LGBT equality.
And last night, President Obama told LGBT Americans that his commitment to ending discrimination in the military, in the workplace and for loving couples and their families is “unwavering”. He made it crystal clear that he is our strongest ally in this fight, that he understands and, in fact, encourages our activism and our voice even when we’re impatient with the pace of change.
And we heard unequivocally about the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: “I am working with the Pentagon, its leadership and members of the House and Senate to end this policy. I will end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. That is my commitment to you.”
Finally, we heard something quite remarkable from the President: “You will see a time in which we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men and two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman.
It was an historic night when we felt the full embrace and commitment of the President of the United States. It’s simply unprecedented.
In the days and weeks ahead we’ll move quickly to capitalize on this momentum. But right now, please watch what President Obama had to say, share this email with your friends, and know that your commitment means that we’re much closer to attaining real equality and protecting millions of Americans:
Thank you for being part of this historic fight with us.
This link is specific to you, so please take action on this campaign before you forward to your friends. Having trouble clicking on the links above? Simply copy and paste this URL into your browser’s address bar to take action today: http://www.hrcactioncenter.org/site/Ecard?ecard_id=1061
2 thoughts on “Dear Joe Solomonese and HRC”
Melanie…It was great to chat with you on Facebook regarding this weekend in Washington DC. I attended the HRC National Dinner as well as Sunday’s National Equality March. I am proud to be a longtime supporter of the work and mission of the Human Rights Campaign. I participated with 200 others lobbying our legislators on Thursday’s HRC Lobby Day. Furthermore HRC along with other groups conducted training sessions over the weekend for people in town for the March on how to lobby…So that the thousands of marchers can complete the next piece of the puzzle by lobbying our legislators on LGBT bills and issues. President Obama stated once again his desire and commitment to sign LGBT Civil Rights bills and legislation. It is up to our community to make sure that we hold all politicians accountable on our issues. Now is the time for full LGBT Civil Rights. This weekend was an awe inspiring experience from start to finish. This weekend made me proud to be an LGBT American. This weekend also reminded me that it is not the time to be complacent or rest on our laurels but push forward for full equality for all Americans.
Pete I enjoyed our chat too. As you can see here I am ablaze. What is upsetting me is the lack of an LGBT masterplan – with transparancy -a unified movement. It seems to me that all the organizations are basically competing for our dollars. yes of course we wouls probably be noweher without them, but then it is symbiotic because they are noweher without us. I understand that thye have to maintain their poltical relationships and tread cautiously, but when that is at the expense of my rights – I get mad. For example a true leader in an HRC position would come out and comment at the very least about the concern that Obama literally used their forum to overtly DITCH marriage and throw domestic partner at us!! Why are they silent? That is what I mean by holding feet to fire. I used to go to HRC dinners and this and that dinner until I decided to spend my last penny on lobbying for what I believed. I am unfunded and do what do regardless of the struggle and so I feel I have the right to explode in this fashion. I hope people like you who still attend those dinners will ask Solmonese the important questions – WHAT ABOUT MARRIAGE vs. OBAMA ‘s TACIT DECLARATION against it. Hold Joes feet to the fire for your $$$$$!
PLease feel free to keep our dialogue open.