The Movement Splits - Again


Probably a healthy development:

The praise for Obama inside HRC's fancy dinner and the denunciations of Obama in the streets of D.C. seemed to unequivocally confirm the split that's emerged in the gay community in the aftermath of the passage of Proposition 8 in California. On one side, the grassroots, the netroots, many younger GLBT people and the Stonewall 2.0 folks, who are pissed off, mad as hell and aren't gonna take it anymore. On the other side, the gay activist establishment, which seems to believe that business-as-usual "slow and steady" is still the way to go.

About halfway through the National Equality March, when it became clear that the turnout was big enough for the march to be deemed a huge success, a reporter said to Cleve Jones, "You realize you just split the gay movement in two."

Jones nodded and grinned.

This is a very old fault-line in most civil rights movements. I do want to say again that the words Obama spoke on Saturday were meaningful and welcome and hopeful. I do not doubt his good intentions. I believe in his presidency and its transformative potential. I also understand the need for ruthless pragmatism at times. And ruthless is something Obama has actually been on many hard issues - ruthlessly putting pragmatism before purism, while not conceding principle.

But it seems to me to disrespect the president if we do not demand the change he represented. Trusting a leader to deliver was not, despite the cat-calls from the right, the point of the Obama campaign. It became bigger than him. It must remain bigger than him.

The president wasn't vilified on the streets on Sunday as he has been recently. We are not attacking the president; we are simply demanding he do what he promised to do and supporting the troops who do not have the luxury of deciding to wait before they risk their lives for us.

We know it isn't easy; but the Democrats need to know we weren't kidding. You cannot summon these forces and then ask them to leave the stage. We won't.

Remember: we are the ones we've been waiting for. Not him, us.