Netroots panel: Life Since Vegas: How the Netroots Forced Action on DADT and DREAM

Netroots Nation starts tomorrow in Minneapolis.

Tomorrow, I’m co-moderating one of the first panels at Netroots Nation at 9 AM CT. It’s titled, “Life Since Vegas: How the Netroots Forced Action on DADT and DREAM.” My fellow panelists are the amazing immigration activist Jackie Mahendra, DREAM activists Yahaira Carillo and Felipe Matos, GetEQUAL’s Heather Cronk and the former communications director at SLDN, Trevor Thomas (who is now at Equality Matters.)

At last year’s Netroots Nation in Las Vegas, two major issues emerged: Repeal of DADT and passage of the DREAM Act. There were many similarities with those issues: Both were fighting resistance for progress from people who should have been allies, both were pushed by the stories of the activists and both heavily relied on the netroots for action. Here’s the panel description:

This panel is a case study in what happens when fiery activism trumps cynicism and forces Washington to act, as was the case with the push to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the DREAM Act in the very last days of last year’s Congress. It’s not often that these two issues are taken together, despite the common struggles both LGBTQ and immigrant communities face. However, the highly parallel, fierce fights over DADT and the DREAM Act last year–both key issues at last year’s Netroots Nation–provide vital takeaways for the larger progressive movement.

It turns out many of the leaders in the DREAM movement, including Yahaira and Felipe, are also part of the LGBT community. There was a lot of communication between the groups during the fall of 2010, which probably prevented competition and fighting as we approached the votes.

This video of Dan Choi and the DREAMers shows the interaction between the groups at Netroots Nation last year. I loved Dan’s line, “We might not have documents, but we have our dreams.”


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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