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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Dallas Principles: Speaking for You?

Stop telling your fundamentalist kinfolks that there is no "gay agenda" - it's all down in writing now (cue Wagnerian trumpets and timpani): The Dallas Principles. And if you aren't with 'em - you're against 'em, it's that simple.

What, you didn't hear about it? Girlfriend, you mean you didn't get the fax or the email or the invite?! Gee, that's too bad. Well, confidentially, I didn't get one, either . . . must have been an oversight. Everybody knows I've shown my principles all over Dallas.

But who wrote this earth-shaking document? More than that, a bigger question is, what purpose does this document serve? What does it do for anybody? Why is it needed?

Been meaning to blog about this but haven't had the chance to study it till now. Prompted by a continuing discussion over on my truckbuddy NG's blog, here are the Dallas Principles, an unsigned, undated document whipped up May 15-17 by 24 LGBT folks who got together up the road in Big D and took it upon themselves to make this big, splashy pronouncement:


President Obama and Congress pledged to lead America in a new direction that included civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. 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.

Nearly forty years ago, a diverse group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people stood up to injustice at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. In doing so, they submitted themselves to bodily harm and criminal prosecution. Their demand was simple -- equal protection under the law.

Still today, full civil rights has eluded the same community that rioted forty years ago. Instead, untold sums of resources have been spent to divide our nation and turn our lives into a political football.

At several junctures in American history, the stars have aligned to deliver the promise of equal protection under the law to those previously denied. [cue "this is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius . . . " - Russ] At this unique time in history, our nation must once again exercise the great tradition of making its people equal.

Justice has too long been delayed. A clear path toward full civil equality for the LGBT community is overdue and must come now.

Using fear and misunderstanding to justify discrimination is no longer acceptable in this nation. Those content with the way things are will be judged harshly by history. Those who do not actively advance these ideals or offer excuses will be judged just as harshly. Those who attempt to divide our community or to delay and deny action on civil equality, waiting for the right moment to arrive, will be held accountable. [cue Darth Vader theme - Russ]

We reject the idea that honoring the founding principles of our country is controversial. We believe in the inherent human dignity of all people. No longer will we submit our children, our family, our friends and ourselves as a political tool for any Party or ideology. A new day has arrived.


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.


Being united by common principles and engaging in united action, we will achieve the following goals:

1.DIGNITY AND EQUALITY. Every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person has inherent dignity and worth, and has the right to live free of discrimination and harassment.

2.FAMILY. Every LGBT person has the right to a family without legal barriers to immigration, civil marriage or raising children.

3.ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY. Every LGBT person has the right to economic opportunity free from discrimination in employment, public housing, accommodation, public facilities, credit, and federally funded programs and activities.

4.EDUCATION. Every LGBT child and youth has the right to an education that is affirming, inclusive and free from bullying.

5.NATIONAL SECURITY. Every LGBT person should have the opportunity to serve our country openly and equally in our military and foreign service.

6.CRIME. Every LGBT person should enjoy life protected against bias crimes.

7.HEALTH CARE. Every person should have access to affordable, high quality, and culturally competent health care without discrimination.


1.We demand that government officials act now to achieve full civil rights without delay.

2.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.

3.All LGBT individuals must accept personal responsibility to do everything within their power for equality and should get involved in the movement by volunteering, giving and being out.

4.We will hold elected officials and our organizations accountable for being transparent and achieving full civil rights by active participation when possible and active opposition when necessary.

5.Our allies need to be proactive in public support for full civil rights.

6.Every government measure that quantifies the US citizenry must permit LGBT individuals to self-identify and be counted in every way citizens are counted.

7.We demand that the media present LGBT lives in fair, accurate and objective ways that neither include nor give credence to unsubstantiated, discriminatory claims and opinions.

Mmm, so just who is this "we" that the document speaks for? Is it all of teh gayz, or just some, or merely a self-selected, elite handful?

Your Head Trucker is on the case, and from the website, here are the identities and occupations of the 24 Authors - none of whom were elected, btw, to represent our community:

Juan Anhoven-Jover, Ph.D. - Miami Beach, FL - a high-tech entrepreneur who retired at age 40, now a philanthropist; co-founder of eQualityGiving.org.

Ken Anhoven-Jover - Miami Beach, FL - emergency medicine physician and co-founder of eQualityGiving.org.

John Bare - San Francisco, CA - former research biologist/geneticist, now a donor and activist.

Jarrett Tomas Barrios - Boston, MA - formerly an openly gay state senator in Massachusetts for nine years, now runs a health access foundation.

Dana Beyer, M.D. - Montgomery County, MD - physician, surgeon, scientist, and political activist.

Jeffrey H. Campagna - New York, NY - independent film producer, attorney, fundraiser, and LGBT organizer, formed ThePowerOnline.org in the wake of Prop 8.

Mandy Carter - Durham, NC - African-American lesbian political activist since 1968, 2005 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, owner of Mandy Carter Consulting.

Michael Coe - Washington, D.C. - oversees operations at the Hawthorn Group and heads the firm's State and Local Government Relations Practices.

Jimmy Creech - Raleigh, N.C. - a United Methodist minister for 29 years, has worked to end bigotry against LGBT people since 1987, ordination revoked in 1999 for disobedience to the church.

Allison Duncan - San Francisco, CA - founder and CEO of Amplifier Strategies, works closely with donors and philanthropists to "achieve measurable social impact" with their dollars.

Michael Guest - Washington, DC - appointed as an openly gay Ambassador (to Romania, 2001), resigned 2004 to protest discriminatory policies in the State Department; now Senior Adviser to the Council for Global Equality.

Joanne Herman - Boston, MA - first transgender member of the Boards of Point Foundation and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders; has written numerous columns for The Advocate on transgender issues.

Donald Hitchcock - Washington, DC - has held leadership and activist roles in IBM Employee Alliance for LGBT Equality, Human Rights Campaign, DC Youth Pride, National Coalition for LGBT Health, and DC for Marriage.

Lane Hudson - Washington, DC - recognized as a Time Magazine Person of the Year for his political blogging, also recognized as influential by The Advocate and Out Magazine.

Charles Merrill - Palm Springs, CA - of the Merrill Lynch family, philanthropist, artist, and activist.

Dixon Osburn - Washington, DC - CEO of the Osburn Network, co-founder and former Executive Director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

Lisa Polyak - Washington, DC - on the Board of Directors of Equality Maryland, Moderator of Families with Pride, in Baltimore.

Barbra Casbar Siperstein - Edison, NJ - President of New Jersey Stonewall Democrats and member of the New Jersey Civil Unions Review Commission; New Jersey's first transgender delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 2004 and 2008.

Pam Spaulding - Durham, NC - editor and publisher of the award-winning blog, PamsHouseBlend.com, one of two LGBT blogs selected to cover the 2008 Democratic National Convention as a member of the press pool.

Andy Szekeres - Denver, CO - staff member of numerous LGBT and political campaigns, most recently that of openly gay Congressman Jared Polis, elected in 2008.

Lisa Turner - Virginia Beach, VA - president and owner of The Turner Group, Ltd.; political and campaign consultant for 18 years, also lecturer and instructor.

Jon Winkleman - New York, NY - founding member of ThePowerOnline.org; recently served on the board of National Stonewall Democrats and Hillary Clinton's National LGBT Steering Committee.

Paul Yandura - Washington, DC - served as LGBT outreach director for the Clinton/Gore '96 campaign, founding director of the Democratic National Committee's Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council; founding partner of Scott+Yandura, political consultants.
What I'm seeing is a handful of very well-heeled folks, and a bigger number of writers, bloggers, and political activists who can put a message out and stir the pot good.

Now, all these folks sound like they have done good work for the queer community, no doubt; but ya know, guys - I just have this little problem with people, even nice, smiling, well-scrubbed and well-intentioned ones, coming up with a list in secret, and then telling me they are MY values and goals.

Don't you? Or am I just being too sensitive here?

Check out their FAQ page, then let me know what you think, guys, let's talk about this one. It's going to be quoted in the media many times as being your principles. You got a problem with that?


Anonymous said...

One of the problems I have with the Dallas 24 are some of the principles involved.

Charles Merrill is a guy who went from self hating in the closet homo to out of the closet self hating homo, a guy who's spiteful and malicious and likes to drop NAMBLA and pedo bombs at other gays.

Not only that, many people seem to forget that his tax protest has been modified in lieu of Proposition 8.

Lane Hudson - as noted elsewhere, history is beginning to show that his motivation for outing Mark Foley was personal, not because of his political hypocrisy.

And Pam Spaulding, despite being very likeable, some of those baristas she's surrounded herself with are very problematic. Many are beginning to feel that she's an "in name only" blogger, having outsourced it all to a bunch of wackadoodles.

Anonymous said...

You can find the authors of the document at www.thedallasprinciples.org. There is no hiding of information, only an open call for others in the grassroots to get engaged and make a difference.

Russ Manley said...

Anon - I know, that's where I found the names. But why are they not part of the document itself, which is indeed presented on their own web page without any date or names? Why don't they sign their work, like any gradeschool kid knows to do?

NG - Appreciate the info, bud. Most of these folks I've never heard of before, but like you I have to question the motives of a group that produces such a grand - or rather, grandiose - declaration, seemingly as if they alone are the great big Voice of the gay community - all by themselves, no prior consultation with anyone. The whole tone of the document, making such sweeping claims and "demands," along with some thinly-veiled implied threats against anyone who dares to disagree, reeeeally bugs me.

Sebastian said...

I think that it is arrogant to put this document forth as if it was THE Gay Agenda. It would be one thing if they put it forth as a set of working principles, a proposal, or their thoughts that they were trying to get others to adopt. But there is a tone here that the speak for many, most, or all of us. On the other hand, I think that their ideas are largely sound.

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