This Is What Advocacy Looks Like From Now On

Jim Burroway

November 14th, 2008

All of those hundreds of protests scheduled to take place tomorrow — protests which most of our professional LGBT advocacy groups have been completely out of the loop on — are largely the brainchild of one woman in Seattle, Amy Balliett.  All it took was a web site:

“You know that book, The Tipping Point?” asks the young Internet maven, referring to Malcolm Gladwell’s 2000 work exploring cultural shifts and the small things that incite them. “Well, on Sunday night, I said to myself, “Holy crap. We’re at the tipping point!”

Seattle activist Amy Balliett, founder of web-spawned phenomenon “Join the Impact” realized that the site — at that point, only a two-day old project — had reached a certain critical mass, logging 50,000 hits per hour. The “impact” was crashing servers.

It’s been amazing to watch this thing going completely viral. If this phenomenon pans out, we will be able to say that we saw the fruits of a completely new force: social networking:

“For me it’s second nature,” says Balliett of social networking. “It’s my job. I think: Need to organize an event? Use the Internet. Throw a party? Use Evite. Technology offers a platform on which to hold the conversation. It’s also given a platform for us to rally together and organize.”

Jim Burroway

November 14th, 2008

re: “Not entirely true about the national orgs being out of the loop. … There’s no reason to hate on the national orgs just because this started virally.”

Notice I said “most.” That is still true, although I see a number of groups starting to promote it now. It’s good to see.

Although I must say, having worked on the inside this time for a grass-roots effort to defeat Prop 102 in Arizona, it has been a HUGE eyeopener to me to see how much distrust — and even disdain — many of our national groups have toward grass-roots activism. Again, I’m saying many, not all. (Thanks Stonewall Dems!) It was shocking to me to see this firsthand, as it was the last thing I expected to encounter. Quite a contrast to, say, the Obama campaign, which was all about empowering the grass roots and turning them loose.

Which is why I’m pleased to see the grass-roots get out in front like this, and seeing many prominent groups playing catch-up AFTER the campaign went viral. If it appears that I’m taking a little bit of glee from this, then guilty as charged. It’s a learning experience for all of us, and that includes, I suspect and hope, our leaders.


November 14th, 2008

To think just two years ago I was reading Out For Good, wishing we’d do something more.

This probably won’t reignite the Civil Rights Movement, or be as strong as I’d like, but it’s good to know we still have the will to go nationally and say something.

I have a feeling we’re in for a long, long fight.


November 14th, 2008

Not entirely true about the national orgs being out of the loop. I’ve been working extensively with Lambda Legal and One Iowa to help plan the Des Moines rally.

There’s no reason to hate on the national orgs just because this started virally.



November 14th, 2008

This is only slightly germane to the post, but this seems like a reasonable web site to ask this question:

Since a huge number of Dentists contributed to “Yes on 8,” would it be reasonable to call and ask them if they’re willing to voluntarily honor dental insurance for partners who might no longer be covered now that their marriage is not valid or recognized in the state of California?

It seems like an eminently reasonable question, and it can’t hurt to ask, can it?

Here is a list of dentists who contributed:


November 14th, 2008

I love that girl. I wish she would start an organization and use that kind of brilliance full-time. There would finally be an equality nonprofit I could donate to without feeling conflicted. John Solomese is so obviously the voice of the past, and she is so obviously the voice of the future.

Mark with a K

November 14th, 2008

Anyone know if she is considering a gay-stay-home-from-work day or week?

Imagine what would happen to the industries of travel, tourism, entertainment, health care, retail (etc. etc. etc.) if we all walked away (or “got sick”) for a week?!

This is what they did down south in the 1960s–remember the bus boycott…and then they got their civil rights!

Onward in solidarity!

Jim Burroway

November 15th, 2008

“What the gay community is doing here is immoral. To destroy a person’s livelihood for whatever reason is morally indefensible.”

Well, now that’s a rather convenient argument. Are you really suggesting that calling for a boycott is immoral?

If so, then I’ve got a bone to pick with you over several so-called “right-to-life” and anti-gay organizations doing precisely the same thing.

I don’t think we need to listen to lectures from those who engage in the very same actions they condemn.

The fact is that everyone has the capacity and the right to decide for themselves where they want to spend their money. And everyone has a right to making an informed decision about the businesses they support. There’s nothing whatsoever immoral about that.

And yes, she has a legal and moral right to participate in the democratic process. Nobody is disputing that. But part of the democratic process is accountability and debate. That too, is part of the process and cannot be shut down. What you are decrying is no different from what Yes on 8 did to small businesses before the election.

Fr. J.

November 15th, 2008

What the gay community is doing here is immoral. To destroy a person’s livelihood for whatever reason is morally indefensible.

This woman has the legal and moral right to participate in the democratic process. The gay community has the legal right but not the moral right to put her out of business.

This kind of vindictiveness is going to come back and haunt the gay community.

North Dallas Thirty

November 15th, 2008

Ah, but you see, Jim, what you’re doing is not a boycott in which you’re simply not choosing to spend your own money there; instead, you’re standing out in front of this restaurant deliberately blocking their parking lot [Ed: Although ND30 has made this claim several times, it did not happen. The parking lot was not blocked. When a car came in, protesters moved out of their way.], verbally assaulting their customers, and otherwise trying to make the lives of people who would come eat there miserable.

Meanwhile, you’re also demanding that this individual be fired, which would seem at odds with your complaint yesterday that firing people because of the way they voted or to whom they donated is wrong.

Jim Burroway

November 15th, 2008

Well there is a difference — a big one.

A business owner can’t exactly run a public business in a private fashion. Public businesses which serve the public are, well, public — open to public scrutiny, acclaim and criticism. Especially when they engage in the public act of participating in a public political campaign.

And so are you saying that I have no legal right to express my freedom of speech in encouraging others to participate in a boycott?

Are all boycotts wrong? Are public demonstrations wrong? Is this not one of those peaceful assemblies protected by the constitution.

The other example, on the other hand, is that of a private employee who merely had a conversation with a co-worker — the same sort of conversations which take place around water coolers all across America. This is not even close to being in the same category. This employee was in no way the public face of of the company. In fact, her identity remains publicly unknown still.


November 16th, 2008

Ugh. I gotta be honest: I hate this poster. It looks like something the fascist or Soviets used to make for propaganda purposes. With all the graphics artist talent that exists in the gay community you’d think we could come up with something better than this.

Timothy Kincaid

November 16th, 2008

I’m with you there, John. To me it appears like one of old workers’ party or communist symbols.

I did notice that very very few people used this image at the Los Angeles march.

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