In 'Dallas Principles,' Gay Group Calls Obama to Action
By Jose Antonio Vargas
Barack Obama leveraged the Internet to capture the White House -- and now outside groups are doing to same to pressure his presidency.
A gay rights movement that began in the streets has increasingly moved online. And last weekend, a diverse group of gay activists, bloggers, Democratic Party organizers and fundraisers from across the country came together in Dallas to discuss how to more aggressively advance their agenda.
They believe the Obama White House and the Democratic-controlled Congress are not moving fast enough to address gay rights issues, such as setting a timetable to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and passing a federal hate crimes bill that covers sexual orientation and gender identity. After the outpouring of spontaneous grassroots support for same-sex marriage in the wake of the passage of Proposition 8 in California, "the timing is right," blogger and activist Lane Hudson said, "to push for full civil rights for LGBT people."
Yesterday, the 24-member group launched a manifesto taking its name from the city where they had gathered: The Dallas Principles (PDF). It's partly a list of goals, partly a call-to-arms, and altogether an ambitious document that boldly lays out the principles for the LGBT community as the group sees it.
"President Obama and Congress pledged to lead America in a new direction that included civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans," the document's preamble reads. "We now sit at a great moment in our history that inspires the nation to return to its highest ideals and greatest promise. We face a historic opportunity to obtain our full civil rights; this is the moment for change. No delay. No excuses."
The group created a site, TheDallasPrinciples.org, where visitors can sign on and endorse the principles. (The endorsers will be asked to participate in targeted activities such as calling their elected representatives to help pass a piece of legislation.) It also launched a Facebook fan page and Twitter account. Soon, people can post a video on the group's YouTube account explaining why they support The Dallas Principles.
As of 12 p.m. Thursday, the group's Facebook account had 920 fans.
To members of the group, all of whom have used social networks and e-mail list-servs to communicate and organize, the Internet is the best medium to reach and empower potential supporters. "Our organizations and individuals need to develop a collaborative and revolutionary new organizing model that mobilizes millions of supporters through emerging web and phone technologies," they write in the document's seven-point "call to action" section.
Change can't come fast enough for Pam Spaulding, who runs Pam's House Blend -- one of the most prominent blogs in the gay political blogosphere. She lives in North Carolina, and she's one of the 24 activists who flew to Dallas to work on the document.
"Here in my home state of North Carolina, we enthusiastically voted for change in 2008, turning out in unprecedented numbers, flipping North Carolina to Blue in the presidential election; we also elected a woman as our governor for the first time," Spaulding wrote on her blog yesterday. "Despite these landmark changes, for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender North Carolinians, our newly Blue state does not see us as equal citizens under the law. We have not passed state hate crimes legislation; we can be fired from our jobs because of our sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. My marriage to my wife Kate -- we wed in Canada in 2004, is not recognized in this state. We are strangers under the law."
Spaulding created a widget that other bloggers can embed on their sites. The widget tracks just how much equality, in her mind, has been achieved at the federal level for the LGBT community since Obama took office. At the moment, it lists 0 percent after Obama has been in the White House for 120 days.
This is one in a series of online columns on our growing "clickocracy," in which we are one nation under Google, with e-mail and video for all. Please send suggestions, comments and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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