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Responding to a Call for a More Genteel Approach on Gay Rights

In a thread on AMERICAblog, I was taken to task by a self identified 75 year old gay man who suggested that my comment that we need to “hammer” our friends was the wrong approach to winning our civil rights.  Here was my response. 
I feel the need to correct some erroneous observations you made, particularly with respect to Massachusetts. As someone involved in that process directly, I can tell you that we did, indeed, hammer our friends on a daily basis to get them to stand up and do what is right. Politicians by nature are a cautious bunch, and rarely will do something simply because it is the right thing to do (wish that were not the case). They do things because they are forced to do them, either through incessant political pressure, or by constant harping. Occasionally, the right thing and their actions coincide.

In Massachusetts, particularly with respect to the vote to kill the anti-marriage amendment, it took an enormous amount of political pressure from gay and straight people to persuade legislators that “let the people vote” – a tempting way to avoid controversy — was not politically expedient for them to do. That measure on the ballot would have drained resources from their coffers, as all the gay and most of the progressive money would have gone there, and not to them. So, they voted in their own interest to stop the amendment, and it also happened to be the right thing to do. 
 

To achieve political success, you must understand and appreciate the motives of the political animal, and feed them accordingly. In our system money speaks. Period. Every battle we take on has a money side, which is the pressure point we need to apply. That is why the DNC fiundraiser is so important, and that is why when activists starting to focus their anger on that pressure point, the Administration began its admittedly half-hearted campaign to win us back. So, yes, we must hammer our friends, repeatedly, if we are to win.

I am pleased you have lived to see same sex marriage. It was because of folks like the Mattachine Society, and the Stonewall queens, and the various organizations that fought for our early victories, that I can be, and have been, an openly gay professional my entire career. But new days call for new tactics, and we need to be deft enought to recognize and employ them. These blogs, the grass roots efforts, the protests, etc. are the new Stonewall.

It is not gentile or polite. It is politics.

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