A reader critiques gay organizations' strategy

A reader e-mailed me a link to a thoughtful column he wrote in The Cornell Daily Sun. While I don't agree with everything in the column, he raises some valid points, especially his commentary on the "Unity Statement" of national gay groups. And he offers some criticism of and advice for HRC and the gay groups who signed on to that statement:

Unfortunately, too many of the groups are still using their talking points from last October, endlessly bashing Republicans and, most significantly, President Bush. Last year, the most powerful of these groups, the Human Rights Campaign, bet the farm on the slogan "George W. Bush, You're Fired." They made defeating the president -- rather than winning over hearts and minds to support civil rights for gays and lesbians -- their top priority, and the main focus of their $30 million budget. While the HRC fiddled against W, thirteen states (all but two of which voted not to fire Mr. Bush) passed laws denying same-sex couples access to marriage and other public institutions.

You'd think they might have gotten the message that a majority of the country did not want to buy what they were selling. Furthermore, you could hope they might have realized the danger of aligning a civil rights movement with the fortunes of a single political party. On both counts, you'd be wrong.

HRC spent $15,000 on cable TV ads last week, on the day of the inaugural, to attack the president's record of saying one thing and doing another. They do have a point, especially where gay issues are concerned. But why advertise on TV to prove it? Those who already agree with that line of thinking are likely on their side.

Those who don't -- a large portion of the 51 percent of Americans who voted to re-elect President Bush -- are the hearts and minds HRC needs to win over. And if complaining about the president turns off the very people you need to win over, aren't you setting yourself up for defeat?

If these groups could work on their second major problem, they could find the road to moral and political victory. The map can be found in the great speeches and writings of American history. Yet the gay civil rights movement still does not have a leader who can speak the language of American values.
Well said. Now, read the whole thing!

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