I sat glued to my television. President Obama was addressing the nation in front of the United States Constitution at the National Archives. For sure I thought, he was going to announce an end to all the discrimination against those of us in the LGBT community. After all, he was talking about the rule of law. Here was our Constitution teacher-in-chief and he was going to end the unconstitutional policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Well… as I watched our President, followed by the former Vice President, it was obvious that no such pronouncements were to take place.

Yesterday, as I watched our first African American President nominate a Hispanic woman to the Supreme Court (imagine that 40 years ago!), and I thought, finally the time has come when he will use this historic moment to announce that gay Americans deserve the same civil rights granted all Americans and call for the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, actions promised during the campaign when we were asked to give money to see him elected.

But this was not that moment.

As a middle-age gay American, I’d like to think that being gay is the least interesting thing about me. But it’s not when I’m being denied the civil rights promised all Americans in the Constitution – liberty and justice for all. What part of all am I? The time for full equality for all is now. Separate is never equal. No delays. No Excuses.

On May 16-17 twenty-four committed donors, activists and thinkers from the LGBT community came together in Dallas and put together a document called – The Dallas Prinicples. I commend them for it. Two of the people who attended this convening called me with great excitement and asked me to sign on.


The following eight guiding principles underlie our call to action. In order to achieve full civil rights now, we avow:

1. Full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals must be enacted now. Delay and excuses are no longer acceptable.

2. We will not leave any part of our community behind.

3. Separate is never equal.

4. Religious beliefs are not a basis upon which to affirm or deny civil rights.

5. The establishment and guardianship of full civil rights is a non-partisan issue.

6. Individual involvement and grassroots action are paramount to success and must be encouraged.

7. Success is measured by the civil rights we all achieve, not by words, access or money raised.

8. Those who seek our support are expected to commit to these principles.

After reading the principles I signed on immediately and I urge each of you, gay and straight, to do as I did. Go to the website – www.thedallasprinciples.org — and go here to sign on.

This is not a veiled ask for money. It is a gathering of grassroots activists and the more of us who simply show-up and sign-on, the faster we move to the promise of full equality.

Last week’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell witch-hunts only bring home the terrible waste of military talent being thrown away for being gay when we need them most. Full equality is civil rights for all. When anyone’s civil rights are denied all of our civil rights are diminished. It’s really simple and its time to make it the law of the land for all of us.

Many of my friends have asked why these principles and what distinguishes them from those of other gay organizations. To me the difference is accountability. Right now I have made a promise to myself that I will only support organizations, businesses, and political leaders who actively support my values. If they don’t, they won’t get any of my time or money – pure and simple. It’s time to put principles ahead of politics and personas.

I ask each of you to go to the website – www.thedallasprinciples.org – and sign on. More than that I urge you to make a simple video stating your support of the principles. The more we put faces on these principles, the faster we effect political change. We are not statistics. We are Americans asking for the promise of our country – liberty and justice for all.

Joel Silberman

Joel Silberman