On a day of critical elections of concern to LGBT Americans, irony is not absent. Equality Across America, responsible for the National Equality March, is in chaos. This news, when not even a month has passed since the DC March.
Resignations abound, including Derek Washington, Kip Williams and Robin McGehee. Reasons are varied, including financial, personal and differences in opinion. A temporary project director has been put in place to hold things together while the group restructures. The future doesn't look bright however, especially considering this statement from Cleve Jones... "We're still not sure this is a viable organization. It's still not clear to me that EAA is going to happen yet. There needs to be a working group to take EAA forward. I'll be inviting [the March's] steering committee and executive committee members to participate."
Add to that the fact that it's reported the groups has no formal bylaws, budget, mission statement or organizational structure and it appears clear that Equality Across America rests on a precipice. Derek Washington, who resigned his position only today, had this to say about Cleve Jones... "I also will not be at all happy if it becomes about any one person as if it was some monarchy. Mr. Jones and I are probably never going to be team mates on The Amazing Race." He went on to add, after resigning... "I never realized what a complete sociopath he was until I had the displeasure of spending time working with him."
We'll update you as the story develops, but I wanted to add one thing. Many people, including myself, were vocally opposed to the March from the start. While I personally stated on this very website that although I had questions about the March's effectiveness at a crucial time in the battle for civil rights for American citizens, I added that I wished it great success. I posted a piece urging the conflict between those questioning the March and those supporting to stop, that regardless of the questions surrounding every aspect of the March, from its time frame to its effectiveness, we should support each other once it came time for Americans to make the statement they'd make on October 11th. After the march, we at Gay Fresno, Gay Visalia and Gay Hanford posted video, photos and news about the March. All of us were pleased with the success of the March and worked to share the media surrounding it.
However now, with the recent revelations, it's clear that those of us questioning the March had valid points to make. Certainly no one would be re-visiting those questions without the news of the unraveling of the organization less than a month after their national event. It's particularly telling that during the planning of the March, all of us who put forth questions and concerns were shouted down, condemned and belittled. Even Barney Frank, a gay congressman serving for 28 years was and still is ravaged by LGBT Americans because of a few poorly chosen words just before the March. Even today, in the comments on internet sites, some are blaming failure of the organization on Frank. Others are stating that the Hate Crimes bill passed because of the March. Both of these statements are far beyond ridiculous.
Weren't we all told from the very beginning, and certainly force fed in the days that led up to the March, that the event was a beginning, a jumping off point, that there was a plan, a strategy and a methodology in place to assure this organization would be a force to be reckoned with? It can't be surprising to anyone in the upper rankings of the March that after months of concrete, self assured and often dismissive response to any LGBT American who didn't agree or attend the March, that these revelations carry more weight than they otherwise might. If things were as solid as the organizers repeated over and over, how could it possibly have fallen apart less than a month after the March?
I hope that in the days to come, the circumstances explaining the collapse of this organization will change, and be more palatable. I hope that, but I also doubt it.
Maybe this will finally be the moment when LGBT camps will stop their unwavering certainty and dialogue with those who have different ideas. It looks, at this point, like the Maine campaign will probably lose. After this, after all this, will there be another group so willing to dismiss and condemn opposing opinion? Is the LGBT movement for equality now just a splintered mixture of A Listers and B Listers? Or are we going to pay attention to all the evidence in front of us? All the strategies that refused critique and ultimately failed? Or are we going to thoughtfully consider the next move, as well as the advice of those like Barney Frank, who works every day toward the goal of equality for LGBT Americans, and might have more insight into the way Congress works than the rest of us? Exactly how much are we going to THINK before our next move?
Read more about these events at Bilerico.com