BY Kerry Eleveld
March 22 2010 12:50 PM ET
“Enough is enough is enough!” seemed to be the message from several corners of the LGBT movement last week. Barney Frank finally just called out the White House for not taking a stand on repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” this year, some New York donors knocked off their first anti-equality state senator, Lt. Dan Choi handcuffed himself to the White House gates, and 19 activists staged a sit-in at House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s offices.
While all were important developments, perhaps those with the most potential ripple effects were the three actions staged Thursday by GetEqual.org, a new organization that is working to make a name for itself on the national stage.
In the way of full disclosure, I pre-interviewed Robin McGehee of GetEqual a couple times and knew that the organization was beginning to plan some direct actions. While I personally believe public pressure is a must to advance LGBT equality in Washington, my purpose in this column is to give a 360 view of the how Thursday’s actions were perceived by various people in the LGBT movement and what might be learned from them.
The direct action that got the most attention — though not nearly as much from the mainstream media as one might hope — was Dan Choi’s arrest and arraignment. Here are the basics on how that went down: Choi showed up at a rally staged by the Human Rights Campaign in conjunction with Kathy Griffin and asked if he could take the stage to speak. He was allowed to do so at the tail end of the rally, at which point he asked all attendees to follow him to the White House — essentially hijacking a decent portion of the rally to accompany him.
In some ways the action was a success for any organization looking to make waves — a fantastic photo opportunity that surged through the LGBT media and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
But with a few notable exceptions, mainstream reporters seemed to be either confused by the message or simply didn’t realize the action was taking place. In fact, the White House press briefing was occurring in the rose garden almost simultaneously to Choi’s action out front, yet few of the organizations sent crews out, mostly, I believe, because they weren’t aware of what was going on. True, people protest in front of the White House every day, but very few actually handcuff themselves to the fence.