Gays have won. So what’s next?

Back in 1996, when the anti-gay “Defense of Marriage Act” passed both houses of Congress with veto-proof majorities, it was conventional wisdom that support for gay marriage, or gays serving in the military, would be political suicide for 30 years or more.

Conventional wisdom hadn’t changed twelve years later when Proposition 8 passed in California, revoking the right of gays to marry in that state, and both Democrats running for the White House studiously refused to embrace marriage equality.

Six years later, “gay marriage” isn’t just happening because of the courts, it is happening because it has the overwhelming support of the country. Support for marriage equality is no longer a “brave political position” for any politician except a Republican running in a Southern primary.

The cover of the Arkansas Times.

The cover of the Arkansas Times.

And while the marriage equality battle isn’t over yet — it’s still not legal nationwide in America — organizing around marriage equality has been a net-plus for Democrats. For starters, the issue forced the Democratic party to take progressives seriously (at least the gay ones). But more generally, gay activists showed that progressives could still pack a punch. And that’s important on other battles beyond gay rights.

As some of you know, I was at one time a corporate spokesperson for an S&P500 company. So I have been to media training school several times. And one of the lessons they teach is:

9 x 1 = 0; but

3 x 3 = 3

What that means is that if you raise nine different topics with one reporter, the reporter won’t remember any of them. But if you raise three topics three times, the reporter will remember all three.

So with the marriage equality fight entering the final stretch, what should be the new progressive focus? And my question isn’t simply about what issues are important, but rather, what are the issues that can animate the movement as a political force?

The three top Progressive goals in 2008 were, arguably, to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, pass universal healthcare, and to move forward on gay rights. What should the Progressive goals be in 2016?

Back in 1996, DOMA passed with 342 Yeas to 67 Nays in the House, and 85 to 14 in the Senate. When DOMA passed, conventional wisdom was that the bigot lobby was so powerful that it was inconceivable that marriage equality would happen in our lifetimes.

Today a lot of the power of the most powerful lobbies in Washington — be they the Koch Brothers, AIPAC or the NRA — lies in the belief that their lobby is so strong that it would be perilous to cross them. Their power rests in the belief that they are immovable rocks. And I think great deal of the success of gay rights activists in the past decade(s) can be ascribed to the movement’s efficient and righteous fearlessness.

So what issue(s) should be next on the collective progressive agenda?

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93 Responses to “Gays have won. So what’s next?”

  1. UncleBucky says:

    Indeed, but there are those who apparently actually prefer “civil union”.

    As for me, Equal Marriage, but if a “civil union” really did have all the stuff of marriage, that would be good, too. Obviously, “marriage” implies “civil marriage”, and “matrimony” can be some religious thing, but I don’t care to give any creedence to religious support. They are already bankrupt.

  2. UncleBucky says:

    I actually know some people who would prefer “civil union”. That’s all I am saying.

    Me, I prefer Equal Marriage. But then I can decide.

  3. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Do you want different rules for same sex couples and opposite sex couples? Isn’t that what we’ve been fighting against?

  4. rmthunter says:

    I’m opposed to civil unions/domestic partnerships, or any other form of “marriage lite,” simply because they do not confer equal status, even discounting the financial benefits associated with marriage. As the Massachusetts Supreme Court pointed out way back when, the term “marriage” conveys a social and cultural weight that no other term does. It’s an intangible distinction in many ways, but it’s no less real for that.

    Maybe the US will eventually follow the lead of some European countries that do allow both, but that’s not what this fight is about.

  5. UncleBucky says:

    True, but I know people who would prefer “civil union” rather than “marriage”. That’s why I put the and/or in there.

    Me? Equal Marriage. Then let ME decide. Eh?

  6. REALrenovato says:

    Susan Rice and Biden seem to have already got that idea although not quite put as blut and up front the way you put it above; “human rights” (civil rights) trump culture and tradition – i.e. I believe comes after – no religious exemption for laws that are designed to prevent harm, starting with outlawing so called “reparative therapy” and its associated nonsense.

  7. Julien Pierre says:

    While we are winning on the issue of marriage equality in the US, the fight is still not over.

    I think the LGBT community needs to take a hard look at the rates of HIV infection and the fact that such a large proportion (75%) of people with HIV and AIDS are still not receiving proper treatment in the US.

    The issue of HIV and AIDS is one that the mainstream LGBT organizations should never have walked away from. With the advent of current HIV drugs, and the Affordable Care Act, there is the potential to significantly curb or even stop growth of the epidemic in this country. However, doing this will require massive targeted information campaigns, and a push for Medicaid expansion in all 50 states.

    Will our community rise to the challenge ?

  8. Strepsi says:

    I would propose the priority be “forcing the religious to follow secular civil law”: it would encompass SSM (which is NOT over yet! You’re right) as well as their attempted end-runs around:
    – public accommodations law (the bakers, florists, etc)
    – education law (Charter schools, meddling with curriculum, stacking education boards etc)
    – military proseletyzing
    It also deals with both Christianist and Islamist theocrats, and addresses with the rights of the NON-RELIGIOUS (20% of the population — bigger than the Latino or black vote) so I think it would also be a winning Progressive / Democratic political position).

  9. dcinsider says:

    Focus people. We are not done yet. We are certainly in a good stretch, and it would appear that all is well, but our enemies are legion, and they will ALWAYS hate us (ask NAACP why it’s still here after passage of Civil Rights Act of 1964).

    We need to remain focused and keep our focus for at least another decade, if not more.

    However, many of us can walk and chew gum at the same time, which means that you can actually support gay rights and gay organizations AND save the whales. But the gay organization should not be spending money saving the whales.

    Get it?

  10. dcinsider says:

    I think the 100 years thing was supposed to be a bit of an exaggeration rather than a literal plan.

    However, the point is well taken. Focus people. We are not done yet. We are certainly in a good stretch, and it would appear that all is well, but our enemies are legion, and they will ALWAYS hate us (ask NAACP why it’s still here after passage of Civil Rights Act of 1964).

    We need to remain focused and keep our focus for at least another decade, if not more.

    However, many of us can walk and chew gum at the same time, which means that you can actually support gay rights and gay organizations AND save the whales. But the gay organization should not be spending money saving the whales.

    Get it?

  11. rmthunter says:

    I agree with you on that — I didn’t mean to make moving away from gay rights an assumption in my comment.

    We can’t move away from gay rights as a priority issue, at least for our own community — I’ve made the point elsewhere that we can’t stop fighting on this because our opponents won’t.

    The problem with lumping the LGBT community in with progressives in general is that our priorities don’t necessarily match — for most people equal rights for lesbians, gays, and trans folk are not the top priority, especially when they’re worried about putting food on the table. As someone else pointed out in this thread, it’s not the progressive movement as a whole that has achieved this progress — it’s the LGBT community and a few allies.

    So, given that we can’t stop being vigilant about protecting out rights, can we also formulate some other priorities that suit the needs of the country as a whole?

    Sure — unlike the teabaggers, we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

  12. Mike Rasor says:

    “So with the marriage equality fight entering the final stretch, what should be the new progressive focus? And my question isn’t simply about what issues are important, but rather, what are the issues that can animate the movement as a political force?

    The three top Progressive goals in 2008 were, arguably, to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, pass universal healthcare, and to move forward on gay rights. What should the Progressive goals be in 2016?”

    If we’re discussing moving on from gay rights just because marriage equality fight is “entering the final stretch,” then an inherent assumption being made is that there are not other major issues which need to be addressed on the gay rights front. If we instead acknowledge there are still more issues to be addressed beyond marriage, then it makes little sense to say that the progressive goal of achieving equal rights for LGBT citizens should be replaced with some other goal.

  13. rmthunter says:

    I’m not sure anyone’s actually making that equation. It’s more that marriage is a key, foundational institution — the bigots have that part right — and treating same-sex couples equally in access to that institution makes it much harder to insist on the right to discriminate in other areas without admitting to bigotry, which the right has tried to avoid — most Americans don’t really like bigots very much.

  14. rmthunter says:

    Yeah — now there’s only the rest of Europe to occupy.

  15. rmthunter says:

    Portugal is getting 70% of its energy from solar. Tell me Portugal is sunnier than Florida or the Southwest.

    And in the Midwest, we have wind. Lots of wind. All the time.

  16. rmthunter says:

    Unfortunately, the opposition is always in battle mode. We’re not dealing with reasonable people here, and they won’t quit — witness, forty years later, the new wave of attempts to limit not only abortion but access to contraception.

    It’s what they do.

  17. rmthunter says:

    Key to that is getting sexual orientation recognized as a protected category on the same level as race, sex, etc., which is as much a matter for the courts as the legislatures. Several courts have started subjecting marriage laws to heightened scrutiny — that needs to play out in our favor.

  18. rmthunter says:

    Sorry, but civil unions are not an option. Marriage. Period.

  19. rmthunter says:

    There are a host of things that need attention, but I don’t see Congress, no matter which party is in control, dealing with them. The linchpin is the influence of corporate money in Washington, and now nationwide. That’s what’s holding everything else together — lack of action on the environment (fracking, clean energy), voting rights, the bloated military budget (with things like no-bid contracts for well-connected contractors), the tattered safety net, etc.

    The only counter I can see is working on the state level to put more progressives in office, both in state governments and in Washington. Let’s face it, the right has been too successful following a local strategy, which has enabled them to chip away at women’s rights, voting rights, and non-discrimination laws (the “religious freedom” bills are the tool they will use against not only women’s reproductive rights but same-sex marriage and non-discrimination laws in general). The left had better stop reacting to what’s being done in legislatures and start being more proactive.

    As for marriage, we’re not there yet, and won’t be until the Supreme Court hands down a decision making it mandatory that states recognize same-sex marriages on the same basis as opposite-sex marriages. And then be prepared to fight the “religious freedom” contingent in courts and legislatures. Because they won’t give up.

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  21. GreatLakeSailor says:

    I checked google to see what the ratio is. GM=8.1Mhits, ME=2.3Mhits (SSM=4.8Mhits) – zero surprise. Then I was going to get all geeky and run the same searches with the filter set to just the last year to see if there is a trend…unfortunately google does not give hit counts when using the date filter. So there goes my data driven tack on ME trending.

    Attract hits – GM remains the way to go. Linguistic framing for argumentative persuasion – I have had much more success with ME. And I argue/discuss politics and equal rights with anyone that will civilly engage.

    I am surprised by your comment “B”. My partner of 25 years and I live in a rustbelt city of 100k, hang out at an old “factory” bar with cheap beer and a 75cent pool table – the adjacent factory closed now for 15+ years – lots of NWWP*, not exactly the teevee depiction of the modern enlightened urban utopia – and I don’t recall right off hand having to explain to anyone “marriage equality” since I started using it. But that’s my corner of the world. Your results may differ (as they say on teevee).

    Interestingly, I find myself using the letter-salad when writing (LGBTQSTRVWXYZ), but not when talking to people. In person I’m gay. And though we’re not married on paper (but might change with Wisconsin clawing itself out of the dark ages with Judge Crabb’s help), I call my partner of 25 years my Husband – introduce him that way too.

    I appreciate your blog and have read it for some time. Thanks for all you do.

    *NWWP = non-wonk working people

  22. Badgerite says:


  23. “Gay marriage” also gets your lots of google hits, whereas “Marriage equality” doesn’t, because A) you don’t use the word “gay” in your story (and guess what word gay people google when looking for gay stories), and B) no one beyond “gay” people knows what “marriage equality” even is. It’s like my beef with “LGBT” — I’ve seen corporate press releases bragging about how pro-gay they are by using the word LGBT and never used the word gay, so that they effectively get credit with the community and never, intentionally or not, having to divugle to their non “LGBT” readers that they’re sucking up to us :) So yes, language is hugely important. And that’s why you’ll always see me using “gay marriage” in a story, even if I also then use “marriage equality.” :)

  24. why_not_now says:

    It is NOT about winning!

    It is about following the law.

    By the way, less than 20% of states approve same sex marriage.

    The journey is not over yet.

  25. GreatLakeSailor says:

    I’m not really sure what you mean or exactly what you’re asking. A few points:
    — I’m not against special rights in special circumstances – handicap parking spots is the first example of which I can think
    — — Switching language from “Gay Marriage” to “Marriage Equality” did not change the goal, and it really didn’t change the tactics on the ground (more public familiarity with LGBT folks and their families as a way to move the Overton Window; justice through legislation when possible and adjudication when necessary). It changed the context and the language (exclusive to inclusive) such that to argue against Marriage Equality was tantamount to arguing against fairness itself – and fairness is something that we all FEEL. Like when some chuckle head cuts in line at the ice cream shop – people don’t like that and it pisses ’em off and at an emotional level they can relate ’cause it’s happened to them. It brings home an emotional narrative; a very powerful aspect of human nature.

    So, to your question “Which is more effective as the lead ask?” is actually a two pronged question:
    1) Which is more effective as the LEAD ask? Because of the state of the Overton Window, my guess is naming each group not to be singled out – ie the ND part of ENDA (and HoNDA and PANDA). People are familiar with that phrasing. But,
    2) Which is more EFFECTIVE in actually ACHIEVING (the long game) a just employment environment – for LGBT, for women, for racial minorities, for everyone? I would guess language, and I don’t have it on the tip of my tongue, that shifts the narrative to JOB PERFORMANCE (effectiveness? effective value? contributory value?) for every employee concerning compensation, promotion and retention. Just throwing spaghetti at the wall: Uniform Employee Evaluation? Equal Evaluation Act? Consistent Performance Measures? Consistent Contributory Value Standards?

    #2 needs a lot of vetting/refining. There’s really smart people that are good at doing that like the ones I listed in my original post – and those folks are eager to help.

  26. Steven Leahy says:

    I don’t think we have “won” yet in any sense but if/when we do, I would add animal rights/animal welfare as an upcoming agenda, in addition to healthcare for all and equalization of the economic playing field.

  27. MyrddinWilt says:

    Well people say that special rights only help a small sector. But thats not really true.

    Take employment law, most employees are ‘at-will’ with no rights at all. The only employees with any rights are racial minorities and women and their only ‘right’ is to be treated the same as the other employees.

    Thing is that it is actually impossible to show that the reason someone was fired is that they were the unlucky victim of some idiot manager’s capricious decision. So to avoid discrimination lawsuits companies need to have policies in place that apply to all employees that provide some guarantees of reasonablish behavior.

    So if you are a white CIS male the only employment rights you have are because your employer has to worry about discrimination suits. The only difference being that you only get them as a side effect and don’t have the right to sue.

    I would certainly support campaigning on ENDA, but we also need to fight for federal employments rights generally. Which is more effective as the lead ask?

  28. Bill_Perdue says:

    The fight for equality goes hand in hand with the fight to end union busting by Obama and by Democrat and Republican governors. Unions can win higher wages and benefits which is why both parties have been engaged in rabid union by every president since Nixon and Carter.

    There are no contradictions between supporting both, as well as the demand for a better minimum wage than the pro-boss plans of Obama or the Republicans, socialized medicine, as opposed to Obama corruption infested ACA, and to fight for decent stipends and free education for student workers and college students and for decent incomes for retired workers. Every worker should get a wage based on high trade union rates like teamsters and railroaders.

    Those rights should all be guaranteed by federal constitutional amendments and have provisions for COLAs.

  29. MyrddinWilt says:

    Well there is certainly an argument that its time to shift emphasis from marriage equality to equality.

    Question is whether the approach should be equally shitty employment terms for LGBT as everyone else or push for fair employment rights.

  30. MyrddinWilt says:

    The battle for public opinion is won. But that leaves a lot to do.

    The problem is that most of the battles to be fought right now are the type you need a law license for rather than a mass movement. So it is now a very different type of fight.

    The progressive movement is 100% behind marriage equality. But we can’t mobilize the movement round a cause that has been won. At this point nobody gives a Democrat credit for coming out as pro marriage equality, it is expected of them.

    It is important to look for new challenges to keep the momentum going. We have to keep reminding members of Congress that we exist and they have to listen to us.

  31. Mark_in_MN says:

    Keeping in mind the prematurity of declaring victory on gay rights I would offer this agenda:

    1) Taking care of our Earth: addressing climate change, clean water, clean air, clean energy production, energy efficiency, pollution, urban sprawl, improved and efficient (both for people and the environment) transportation within cities and between cities needs to be pursued, etc.

    2) Repairing our democracy: campaign finance is the big part of this, but I’d also include needing to think about ways beyond that, and possibly beyond a legislative agenda, by which we can help people feel more empowered with government that is more responsive and less distant. One fairly simple thing, however strange it may sound, would be a customer service initiative so that doing business with a government office isn’t something to dread or a confusing pain.

    3) Repairing our economy: Here the marque item is economic justice with things like minimum/living wage, sick leave and vacation, equal pay, maternity/parenting leave, workers rights including strengthening unions, adequate welfare for those unable to work or out of work. Economic justice should also include decreasing the disparity between the top and the bottom and between executives and the lowest paid workers. We need to deal with barriers people face in getting good employment, be it education and training, problems that arise because of encounters with the criminal justice system, etc. Our infrastructure needs to be repaired and enhanced (and this should be seen and framed as a matter of economic benefit), and transit systems improved. In conjunction with taking care of our Earth, we need to look at fostering energy efficient and clean industry, especially industries that will help us take care of the Earth. We will need to encourage manufacturing more of our goods at home rather than abroad, especially essential goods and high tech good and materials. The tax code needs to be looked at with an eye specifically toward economic justice and a repaired economy. Immigration reform (and, yes, gasp! liberalization) is also a part of repairing the economy.

    4) Repairing our health care: The ACA was a start, but it mostly tinkered to keep our health care system running rather than really repairing the problems. We should strive for some sort of single payer with comprehensive coverage for all in the US, paid largely out of general taxation. We should seriously look at Canada, France, the UK and other countries for a models as we design our own system here. We should also frame this very much in tandem with repairing our economy. Because current health care spending is a very big drain on and part of our broken down economic engine.

    The order may need to be tweaked, but the core I’d suggest should be taking care of our Earth, repairing our democracy, repairing our economy, repairing our health care.

  32. Bill_Perdue says:

    Exactly. The LGBT communities, not the Democrats, won the battles for marriage equality and we still have a way to go. Democrats have been very much like Republicans when it comes to repealing DOMA or passing ENDA or a CRA.

    Democrats are union busters just as much as Republicans and Obama is the worst of the lot. Democrats and Republicans are gunning for Social Security and what’s left of Medicare. ACA is the corrupt, pro business approach of a WH and Congress bribed by insurance and pharmaceutical companies. It;s a tenth rate plan by a tenth rate party. “The GuardianTuesday 17 June 2014 15.27
    EDT – Study by Washington-based foundation says healthcare provision
    in the US is the worst in the world. The NHS has been declared the world’s best
    healthcare system by an international panel of experts who rated its care
    superior to countries which spend far more on health.

    The same study also castigated healthcare provision in the US as the worst globally. Despite putting the most money into health, America denies care to many patients in need because they do not have health insurance and is also the poorest at saving the lives of people who fall ill, it found.

    The report has been produced by the Commonwealth Fund, a Washington-based foundation which is respected around the world for its analysis of the performance of different countries’ health systems. It examined an array of evidence about performance in 11 countries, including detailed data from patients, doctors and the World Health Organisation.

  33. Mark_in_MN says:

    But is the ENDA really the end goal? It just covers employment. It seems to me that the goal ought to be incorporation into the Civil Rights Act or a parallel and equally comprehensive measure.

  34. emjayay says:

    Absolutely. The two big parties are twins, and therefore Republicans have been just as in favor of equal rights for everyone – gay people, women, and minorities – as Democrats. Yeah, Totally.

  35. emjayay says:

    Or, having a half black president has reminded us just how much racism still exists.

  36. emjayay says:

    Including a lot of fictional humanizing with Will and Grace and Brokeback Mountain and all the rest.

  37. emjayay says:

    Gay people wisely move to the cities, and the cities get better than they already were and the rest gets worse. That’s just how it works.

  38. emjayay says:

    Of course. But the most well known recent and widely discussed, uh, feminist books that come to mind for example are the recent one by the Lean the Fuck In wealthy privileged woman, which I think was about the importance of hiring a lot of nannies and servants so you can pursue your important career without distractions. And the one a couple years ago by the wealthy privileged woman bemoaning the difficulties of being a highly paid DC bureaucrat while still living in a mansion in another state, compared to being a highly paid privileged college professor, or something like that.

    Of course this stuff is only a big deal among a small percentage of Americans. The rest are shopping at Walmart and watching Fox News on TV.

  39. GreatLakeSailor says:

    I’ve read many very good suggestions in this thread, and I’ll just throw this out and see what happens. What if we, in parallel with some of these suggestions, took a little time to “polish our tools” (Uff-da, that sounds like something I didn’t mean – and I use that as an example).

    Here is what I mean: Progressives tend to be good at identifying problems and formulating root-cause solutions. What we’re not so good at is marketing them to the country at large. By contrast, Right Wingers seem to be able to sell nefarious non-solutions to problems that either don’t exist or are entirely unconnected to the “solution” presented.

    In short: Language Matters. Language sets the framing of an issue; the way we think about something, and hence, what we will do (or not do) to fix it.

    “Gay Marriage” invokes “Special Rights.” Special rights links to privilege, and that’s easy to argue against.
    Intelligently, most advocates switched:
    “Marriage Equality” invokes “Fairness.” And fairness is tough to argue against.

    I could drone on and on about this, but folks more studied than me already have.
    George Lakoff
    Drew Westin
    Anat Shenker-Osorio

    The guy who initially explored this, Charles Fillmore

    And finally, I’ll toss out a little Chomsky
    “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”

    The Common Good, by Noam Chomsky, Odonian Press, 1998

  40. UncleBucky says:

    GEE, someone ought to collect the items in the comments and weight them as to strength, ability to be the real “next” thing and so on…

    Population control and reduction. We can’t think that technology will save us. Here’s why. There may only be so much biomass possible. As we become a greater and greater proportion of the biomass as well as our plant and animal mono-cultures, species currently part of the biomass have nowhere to go and will die off.

    15/hr?? I say 3 billion or bust. 3 billion or crash.

  41. UncleBucky says:

    Yeah, I came back to the comment to make some additions, Oops, I will go over the “3” limit, haha, but I put them under #3 since they raise general health and therefore cut down on health costs. I start with your suggestion:

    3a. A campaign to reduce gun deaths, eh? I don’t know what that will involve (moment of laughing) but I think it may have something to do with what is reachable when someone is having a hissy fit. I’d recommend a prescription “rubber ducky”, but…

    3b. A campaign to reduce substances in foods that promote diabetes, obesity and other illnesses, and to reduce home and restaurant portions. Gotta cut down. Falafel is pretty good, folks.

    3c. A majority of full time workers working full time US-located jobs, right which means a livable wage AND only ONE trip to work. Working three jobs being something to be associated with the failure that is Bush the Lesser. Sure it will cost companies more, but maybe THAT’s the real competitive advantage, employment and purchasing power, rather than how much money can be posted to Cayman Islands accounts.

    3d. Multi-modal travel. Enough with cars and planes. More with working locally so one can walk, or within biking distance. More with surface light rail, bus rapid transit, metros, interubans and high speed rail. More with virtual travel, that is, meetings that can be held across virtual bridges or virtual conference tables.

    I give up, you next.

  42. Buford2k11 says:

    Seeing as though our nation is on the verge of becoming a real fascist paradise, it would make sense to hammer SCOTUS as being corrupt and beholden to the Koch boys and the other players who have escaped justice…actually there is way more than can be stated in a comment…

  43. SFExPat says:

    Now THAT’s an agenda! And I don’t think I can think of anything to add, but one expansion: not just ENDA but HONDA (HOusing Non-Discrimination Act) and PANDA (Public Accommodations …).

  44. nkd says:

    “Let’s. secure equal rights for gay folk and keep it for 100 years, then let’s talk.” Really? Every other issue should be put on hold for 100 YEARS!? Jeez.

  45. GreatLakeSailor says:

    Assuming the mop-up continues on Marriage Equality and ENDA makes progress

    1) 28th Amendment/Public Funding of Elections so our government no longer runs on bribes and instead actually serves us little people.
    2) Energy Independence through US designed and made Renewables (this then effects global warming, war for oil/Empire/MIC, employment, research & development)
    3) Economic & Judicial Justice (MinWage, Stiglitz Roosevelt Inst. White Paper on tax code, war crimes, spying/privacy, delink socioeconomic status and application of justice, racial bias in conviction & sentencing)

    Ending the meme “War on [insert panic term du jour here]” It’s the dog whistle way of saying doing uncivil/illegal things to further an effort is somehow OK (ex: ‘war on terror’ leads to torture and out of control NSA). Oh, end cannabis prohibition and fix the whole drug punishment model.

    my 2cents

  46. Hue-Man says:

    I concur with the earlier comments about completing the LGBT clean-up operations. On the positive side, there is broad public support for ENDA which many people already believe is in force. On the negative, the gay-haters will be fighting from their caves on remote jungle islands, even after hostilities have ended.

    IMHO, income inequality should be near the top of the to do list. The concept is easily explained to low-information voters who have watched their personal quality of life destroyed in the last three decades. This may be considered class warfare but if the current trends aren’t reversed, the billionaires will have total control of every aspect of our lives (until the Revolution). That shift of political power to progressives will make campaign reform, gun control, and other “worthwhile initiatives” attainable.

  47. Matt Rogers says:

    Most of Texas’ larger cities — Dallas, Forth Worth, Austin, and the like — already had LGBT discrimination protections when Houston’s were passed. By contrast, the towns and rural areas are almost entirely devoid of protections. When you’re traveling across the state’s vast rural expanses, the big cities can seem awfully far apart .

  48. BeccaM says:

    I disagree with that characterization of the women’s feminist movement. We didn’t disappear. We didn’t win and then just wander away or go home.

    We were marginalized and overwhelmed by the movement conservatives of the Reagan era, belittled and patronized by religious fundamentalists (who then just as now demanded religious exemptions to allow sexist discrimination) and betrayed by self-serving hypocritical harpies like Phyllis Schlafly. And then later betrayed further by our supposed Democratic allies who kept insisting they had our backs — but who always seemed just fine with compromising on issues we cared about, such as health care and reproductive freedoms.

    Even now, Roe v. Wade hangs by a one vote SCOTUS thread — and we have Democrat Bart Stupak trying to ensure federal money won’t ever pay for any abortions, and when that didn’t pass, the President doing the same. Most of them don’t even have the guts to say simply that women should have a right to an abortion, period, but have adopted the “rape, incest, and life and health of the mother” language.

    The problem is we women didn’t leave the battlefield; it’s that our supposed political allies turned on us. Kept insisting we were the ones who had to compromise. And just as it was with gay rights, most of ’em adopted the “who else are they gonna vote for?” attitude. Throw us an occasional bone, like the Lilly Ledbetter Act which removed the time limit for pay discrimination cases, but do nothing to address the underlying reasons women on average still earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.

    However, one aspect of your comment is definitely important to note: Complacency is a losing strategy. And one of the worst things the gay rights movement can do is to declare the war to be won and over.

  49. BeccaM says:

    This is kind of “apples” vs “a very specific variety of apple”.

    Gay rights are a progressive cause, and while we’ve made huge progress in a very short period of time, we have not decisively won the war by any measure. As others have pointed out, we don’t even have a majority of the country yet as supporting marriage equality rights, and we’re stagnant with respect to employment and housing protections. In 29 states, it is still legal for an employer to say “You’re gay? You’re fired.”

    Plus yes, there’s this troubling trend of including exemptions where all people have to do is dress up their homophobia in the garb of religion — and suddenly it’s okay to discriminate.

    Let’s also be clear here: It wasn’t the progressive movement which achieved the gains we’ve seen. It’s been the gay rights activists and unrelenting pressure on politicians to respond — and to keep the promises they kept giving for the last 20-odd years. It’s been gay and lesbian couples filing lawsuits in state after state, and dragging the irrationality of the bigots’ arguments into the light of day.

    So anyway, what should the rest of the progressives focus on now? Economic inequality. The environment. And money and corruption in politics, especially as being exercised currently by the plutocratic oligarchs.

  50. caphillprof says:

    I agree with those below (above?) who point out that we have won some battles but have not won the war. We got 31 more states, Puerto Rico and some other islands to win. We need protection in employment, housing, accommodations, etc. And we desperately need to look at religious “bakers” and other alleged “religious” exemptions in commerce.

    At the same time, it would be nice of gay folk were seen to be supporting other battles. We’re not just interested in ourselves, we are interested in the country as a whole.

    But, we should not be like the Womens’ movement who got Roe v. Wade, lost the ERA and picked up their marbles and have been seen nowhere since. Let’s. secure equal rights for gay folk and keep it for 100 years, then let’s talk.

    Meanwhile, while gay rights have been part of the progressive agenda, I don’t think they are exclusively progressive. For example, very conservative arguments were made to support same sex marriage in the courts. We make a mistake when we conflate the gay with the progressive. They may overlap but they are not co-extensive.

  51. trinu says:

    The environment. The destruction (much if not most of it permanent) will not wait while we address other issues.

  52. pliny says:

    How about climate change?

    I was struck by something Media Matters just posted at:

    Basically Erick Erickson goes full Fox and support’s Perry’s gays-just-need-rehab comments because “there is no settled science on the matter”.

    Can more idiots be suckered into using climate denial language to support pray-away-the-gay scams?

  53. Repeal 2nd amendment.

  54. Indigo says:

    What? Americans? Finish something? Since when?

  55. ThomasTallis says:

    Can we finish what we started?

  56. KennyG says:

    Immigration and Guns.

  57. koolaidyarn says:

    Huge yes to all three of these, plus I’d add recognition of domestic terrorists for what they are.

    Recognize that far more Americans have been killed by far right terrorists than Muslim jihadists since 9/11, and that a coward with a gun fetish who murders figures of authority or dozens of small children isn’t a brave patriot whose precious feelings need to be coddled. Call out the groups who are denying any governmental authority as the traitors that they really are, rather than calling them brave Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights.

    Sometimes vocabulary is important, and the specific word terrorist needs to be used more often.

  58. UncleBucky says:


    2. Complete the Equal Marriage and/or Civil Union NATIONALLY/CONSTITUTIONALLY.

    3. Single Payer Universal with EVERYONE paying a percentage of their income for this.

    1. Get the money out of politics. Especially/Specifically, reverse Citizens United.

  59. Drew2u says:

    One of the most awesome / awe-inspiring memories I have is of a very early January morning in Germany. We were on a bus, leaving town, and through the mist there was a slow, blinking red light in the sky. As we drove closer, there was a slow, giant moving shadow that gave shape to a wind turbine, as close-up as I had ever seen one before that time. There were a couple other dim, blinking red lights illuminating through the mist and damn if it wasn’t a sight to behold.

  60. FLL says:

    Marriage equality is a safe bet. ENDA, however, will be a real dogfight. The fundamentalist Xtian nutjobs will pull out all the stops. It may be 2017 before the ENDA mess gets wrapped up. This post, therefore, may be premature.

  61. BlueIdaho says:

    We really haven’t won until gays and lesbians can live in intolerant states like Idaho,Texas, etc. and not fear that they will be evicted from their homes or fired from their jobs simply because of their sexual orientation. Houston recently passed a non-discriminatory ordinance against stiff opposition. Boise did the same last year. However, where does this leave the rest of the state’s LGBT residents? Until all have equality, no matter where you live, we really have not won.

  62. nicho says:

    Get money out of politics. All our problems — even the remaining LGBT struggles — flow from that. Until that is taken care of, we are in a sisyphean struggle.

    Example: Obama signs order preventing workplace discrimination against LGBT folks.

    Day before order: Hey, Joe, we’re letting you go. We don’t need no queers here.
    Day after order: Sorry, Joe, we need to cut back. We’re letting you go. Thanks for everything.

  63. nicho says:

    Yes. Until we get big money out of politics, nothing in the country is going to change.

  64. 1) Abortion (women’s rights): no restrictions in first trimester, mail-order contraception including “morning after” for free, no zoning bullshit. (Note: this battle is still being fought 35 years later, so in some ways we never “win”.)

    2) Income Inequality: Minimum wage raised; Taxes raised on wealthy up towards 70% (people earning that much are motivated by winning, not by more money – they will continue to show up every day), especially inheritance; destroy “carried interest”, “private jet” and all other outrageous loopholes (yachts, art, whatever); fine companies that leave their assets overseas to avoid taxes 5 times what they would’ve paid in taxes to “incentivize” them, etc.

    3) Renewable Energy/Climate Change.

  65. Houndentenor says:

    roflol. I lived in Germany for six months about a decade ago. It’s like the pacific northwest. Lots of clouds. Plenty of rain. There’s no reason the sunbelt shouldn’t be almost entirely solar by now.

  66. Houndentenor says:

    We are so not done yet with what’s on the table. I don’t know why liberals keep wanting to do the victory lap before the game is over. (Remember in early 2009 when msnbc was non-stop crowing about the end of the GOP. Stop doing this!)

    But, what comes after gay rights (assuming we can ever had gays to the civil rights legislation which seems doubtful before 2022 at the earliest), trans rights is next. And maybe we can just relax and not be in battle mode all the time. This has been exhausted. Maybe we can get one of those “peace dividends” they used to talk about!

  67. Yes, we may not have won, but D-Day is over, and we now control Normandy.

  68. John didn’t author this post ;-)

  69. But remember what we learned on Fox News: Solar only works in Germany because they have a different sun than us here in America :)

  70. Drew2u says:

    The LGBT-rights movement made so much progress in comparatively so little time because of the humanization of the movement – by showing personal stories, tragedies, and successes of not only LGBT people, but of their heterosexual family, friends, and social circles.
    One can not look at a child being ripped away from his or her parents just because the parents love each other, nor can one look at a terminally ill person being separated from their loved one, without becoming outraged that those things are allowed to happen.

    Personalize the next topic (“Obamacare’s death panels are going to kill grandma!!”) and it will be the next to win.

    As for what I think should be the next topic? I believe voters are capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time. The media? Notsomuch.

  71. heimaey says:

    I agree with you- good point about the black experience. Well unless you’re a republican and you don’t think that racism exists anymore because our president is half black.

  72. HereinDC says:

    Solar energy. If even fricking Germany has over 50% of their electricty from Solar…then American can too.

  73. Indigo says:
  74. Indigo says:

    I agree with what you said; there are challenges ahead. Just a comment about authorial source is all. I’m so old I’ve been through several “tipping points” so I’m very sceptical about this, although recognition in the law is important. But a casual glance at the Black Experience suggests that the struggle is never really over. Unexpected reversals are also part of the story.

  75. mwdavis says:

    Green energy.

  76. mwdavis says:

    Increase in minimum wage. Immigration reform. Racial disparities in criminal sentencing. Preserving public education. Overturn Citizen’s United decision.

  77. The_Fixer says:

    As has been pointed out, we’ve not won just yet. Remarkable (and nearly unthinkable in years past) progress, yes. But winning, no.

    But if one wants to plan ahead, then I think the next big hurdle would also be unthinkable by today’s standard – election and campaign finance reform. Publicly financed campaigns, which would necessitate reversal of the Citizen’s United decision should be next. Also, some new ethics rules (get rid of the revolving door that couples the government and lobbying worlds).

    Once you fix the totally corrupt campaign and election process, a lot of the other things will be fixed in the process.

  78. AndyinChicago says:

    Gay rights aren’t a mission accomplished place, and I know that you know that, but I get that we’re at a tipping point. Things should start to get a little easier, even if regionally we still have a long road ahead.

    I think I know the three things I’d focus on if I were in charge of the progressive movement: Fighting climate change, fighting income inequality, and changing our economy to more focus on research, engineering, and manufacturing.

    In terms of LGBT rights: promoting trans rights and protections, ending institutional discrimination like the ban on gay blood donation, and workplace discrimination (ENDA).

  79. S1AMER says:

    Well, we haven’t won the war yet. Yes, we’ve won lots of battles — but there are still some big battles to be fought, and lots of mopping up operations everywhere.

    But, yes, victory is coming.

    And we shouldn’t be sitting on our hands waiting for total victory before we take up other campaigns (we can all multitask, right?). As a group that has been victimized by segments of society, we have a moral obligation to help fight for full rights for other marginalized groups. Anybody who isn’t a straight white Republican christianist male should have our aid and full support.

    Many of us have children, many do not — but all of us should care enough about all the children out there, and generations not yet born, to work to save the planet so they have a place to live in the coming decades and centuries.

  80. Bookbinder says:

    I get your point and am not going to nitpick. Civil rights movements are derived from the Enlightenment, and we should fulfill the Enlightenment by having the goal of creating a society with dramatically less Economic Inequality.

  81. heimaey says:

    My apologies to Myrddin – I mean Myrddin then. I believe that’s what he was saying…

  82. Indigo says:

    Myrddin wrote this, not John.

  83. GarySFBCN says:

    I think the lines are blurred regarding the audience for this post.

    Is this post intended for progressives? Because I don’t remember a progressive vote to move ahead with LGBT issues, other than to not hate us. For example, same-sex marriage as an issue just kind of happened by several sincere, dedicated but uncoordinated efforts nationwide. Well into the life of the issue, some national coordination did surface and, thankfully, the national “coordinators” stayed out of the way of progress.

    Is this post intended for LGBTs? If so, be ready to be disillusioned. While many of us ‘get it’ regarding basic human rights for all, I continue to be appalled that so many of us LGBTs cannot see beyond the issues that affect only us. You’ll be surprised at how few LGBTs are progressive.

    An easy to understand example is this: Being half of a bi-national couple, several years ago I attended a community meeting for bi-national couples. What was shocking is when the leader of the group got up and said that she used to believe in America, but now she can’t say the ‘pledge of allegiance’ because the way gay and lesbian bi-national couples are treated, there is no ‘liberty and justice for all.’ I about shit my pants at the fucking ignorance and narcissism of this woman, a highly-paid worker in the tech industry, not seeing any other injustices that rise to her threshold against ‘liberty and justice for all.’

  84. heimaey says:

    I don’t think John, and I don’t want to speak for him, is saying the fight is over, but that we’ve reached the tipping point – there’s no going back now – and we need to get ready for other challenges. That’s all.

  85. Webster says:

    Way too early to unfurl the “mission Accomplished” banner. Yes, a lot of battles have been won recently–but anyone who thinks the LGBT community has won the war against hate, bigotry, and discrimination is deluded. The religiofascists will never give up and are nowhere near surrender. The fight will be a long one and is nowhere near its end.

  86. Mike Rasor says:

    I think it’s problematic to equate the struggle for LGBT rights simply with marriage equality. The reality is until we have school bullying, employment, public accommodation and housing protections, we are far from being able to say that LGBT rights have been achieved in this country (and that doesn’t even deal with trans specific legal issues).

  87. Bill_Perdue says:

    We haven’t won. We’re not even close to winning.

    LGBT people face widespread discrimination in housing, employment and access to public accommodations as well as a steady drumbeat of harassment, hate speech and violence. That is especially true for transgendered people, people of color and youth in our communities. The NCAVP notes that “2012 saw the 4th highest murder rate of LGBTQ and HIV-affected people (LGBTQH) in history, according to the annual Hate Violence Report released by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP). The overall LGBTQH homicide rate decreased by 16.7% from 2011, which had the highest homicide rate of all time. … Some of the groups most likely to experience hate violence included transgender people (particularly transgender women), people of color (particularly transgender people of color), and gay men. Young people, homeless people, and people with disabilities were also disproportionately represented.

    We need a comprehensive Civil Rights Amendment to the federal Constitution covering all aspects of employment, housing and public accommodations with robust penalties for bigots and others who try to harm us. It also needs provisions creating an easy and expeditious process when we do have to sue for damages and provisions criminalizing hate speech and provisions extending that superior coverage to women, people of color and imported and immigrant workers.

    None of this is likely to happen because the federal and state governments are controlled by twin right wing parties who squabble over who gets the bribes and whose differences are largely cosmetic.

  88. bkmn says:

    For the LGBT community we have to be vigilant to protect the rights we have recently obtained. NOM has a new subgroup with all the old players that are going to continue their fight against LGBT rights and protections.

    There will continue to be pushes to provide “religious” exemptions to civil rights laws, as in AZ and the south this last year.

    Don’t assume that because we have made progress that someone won’t try to turn back the clock.

  89. heimaey says:

    Ending marijuana prohibition, guns, transexuals, term limits for senate and house, wealth income disparity, etc.

  90. MichaelS says:

    Climate. Guns. Voting Rights. Campaign Finance. Economic equality (including tax reform). Immigration reform. Damn, there’s too many…

  91. Indigo says:

    Oh, hey! Mission Accomplished!

  92. wtf2 says:

    I’ll list just one, because I think it will positively effect many others, Rootstriker-type campaign finance reform.

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