Friday, March 19, 2010



This is terrific article, a clarion call, by David Mixner for all of us to get serious about fighting for equal rights and take advantage of the momentum begun by such heroes as Dan Choi [Pictured], Jim Pietrangelo, and Robin McGehee.

In this connection, I strongly urge all of us to support in lieu of supporting what I consider to be that pathetic organization, the HRC.

Here is an excerpt from David Mixner's [Pictured] article that I strongly urge you to read in its entirety:

When I struggle to find the words why this is important and why these young brave leaders from GetEqual should be heard, I hit a dead end. Then Marylouise Oates reminded me of Dr. King's "Letter From A Birmingham Jail" and that I didn't have to create new words. The words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr still resonate today for all those around the world struggling against oppression. The greatest honor I can bestow upon these bright young minds is to put their actions in context with Dr. King's words.

For those of you who view their actions as ineffective, grandstanding or even ego-driven, I ask you to listen carefully to these words written by Dr. King in "The Letters From A Birmingham Jail":

My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.......

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro (LGBT) with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied.

Many have said to me that civil disobedience is not the way. King said,

"You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham(Washington and San Francisco). But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes.,....

"One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all...

"Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

"We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws."

And of course there are the apostles who caution us to wait, insist now is not the time and predict we can only hurt ourselves by being forceful in our actions and demands for freedom. Listen carefully to these words. Please savor them carefully:

"...who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro (LGBT) to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

"I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro (LGBT) passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured."

This courageous action yesterday, may be just the thing that is needed to galvanize serious, coordinated, and effective support for LGBT rights, and allow hitherto suppressed anger, and even rage, to come forth and result in increasing levels of meaningful and coordinated grassroots and organizational activism.

Lt. Dan Choi and the others may well be the catalysts to finally galvanize the LGBT civil rights movement into a serious force that exponentially increases the momentum toward full equality!
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genevieve said...

I joined yesterday and will support it. The Birmingham Speech is one every activist should read. Equality ws never achieve sitting in glass houses and crystal palaces.

Jerry Maneker said...

That's great, genevieve. Let's get behind GetEqual, and forget about HRC. Our money and support should go to organizations that are making meaningful contributions in the struggle for equality, such as GetEqual and Lambda Legal, and such meaningful litigation such as that which the attorneys Olson and Boise are involved.

We are not to make any mistake: As you suggest, there will be "a season of suffering," as Martin Luther King stated in regard to the African American Civil Rights movement, as well as litigation at the federal level, before equal rights are achieved.

But I truly believe that after yesterday's action, we are approaching a time when we will see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Best wishes, Jerry.


I will support GetEQUAL when they revise their mission statement in which they claim to be fighting for the rights of "queers". I need no such caveat in order to support Lt. Choi and Capt. Pietrangelo.

Jerry Maneker said...

That's a point with which I heartily agree, Don Charles! The tragedy is that so many Gay people refer to themselves by that hateful epithet that they don't even realize that they are losing ground each and every time that word is used and affirmed. Best wishes, Jerry.