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News :: Gender
Did the Kerry Campaign order HRC to drop comedienne Margaret Cho?
25 Jul 2004
Entertainers at Unity 2004 asked not to cross picket line.
On Friday the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) "disinvited" one of the biggest entertainment draws in the Lesbian and Gay community, comedienne Margaret Cho. Cho was to have been the headline act for a Monday, July 26th reception for Democratic Party convention delegates hosted by the HRC and nine other Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered organizations.

Did HRC nix Cho because her brilliant comedy was going to attack the present administration? Or, did HRC nix Cho when it feared that the Bush campaign might make hay off of some of her more ribald jokes? Did HRC fear that Democrats would be embarrassed by a comedienne, who may have used the same words that the Vice President of the United States said (F-you) on the floor of the Senate? At least Cho would confine such language to a 21+ nightclub, whereas Cheney poisoned the minds of impressionable, CSPAN-watching youngsters.

So did HRC allow the predominantly straight Kerry campaign team to dictate to them who would perform at a gay event? Or, did HRC just not care about the first amendment and freedom of speech? What an insult to this great entertainer. And, what an insult to the organizations who were not asked what they thought of disinviting Cho.

Yes, in its undignified scramble to probably appease the Kerry moralists, HRC apparently didn't even have the decency to consult with some of their LGBT cohosts in the event. Placating the Kerry campaign was more important than even going through the motions of working with others in our community. As a result, when they got news of HRC's unilateral decision, the National Gay and Lesbian Task force bolted from the event.

It is precisely the HRC's attitude towards the Democratic leadership that has led to their impotence in national politics. As the great abolitionist activist Frederick Douglass once said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. Never has. Never will." Most national gay organizations haven't made any demands of the Kerry campaign and, as a result are served crow at every turn.

During the "gays in the military" debate at the start of the Clinton administration, the leading LGBT organizations advised their followers to not criticize the President, even when it became clear that he was about to break his promise to our community. The result was that all the pressure on Clinton was coming from the right, with no at least countervailing blast from our community. The result was one of the most humiliating routes of Clinton's first administration, and a defeat for our community.

Many would reply that any criticism of Kerry just plays into the hands of the Bush campaign. A look at history shows how utterly false this notion is. For example, to its credit, the abolitionist movement conducted a withering campaign of criticism about Abraham Lincoln -- even in the midst of full-scale war -- and arguably played a key role in moving him in a progressive direction.

Last week, some 27 Democratic Congressmen crossed the aisle to support the anti-gay "Marriage Protection Act," thus providing anti-gay Republicans with the necessary margin of victory for this legislation that would ban LGBT access to the court system to challenge the 1996 "Defense of Marriage Act." If we are to move politics in a pro-gay direction, we need to be unsparing in our criticism of politicians who oppose us, regardless of party affiliation.

Unfortunately, today most gay organizations are downplaying Kerry's opposition to equal marriage rights, and his pledge to support an anti-gay constitutional amendment for the state of Massachusetts. The latter move, led by a "who's who" of Democratic Massachusetts State legislators could, as early as 2006, destroy equal marriage rights in the one state where we've won them. By muting their opposition to Kerry's attacks on our rights, they are repeating the sorry history which gave us Clinton's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and many more anti-gay purges following the implementation of that policy.

Some of us won't let history repeat itself, and won't keep silent this time. That is why will be picketing the gay Dems' confab at 8:30 PM, Monday, July 26 at the Avalon Nightclub, 15 Lansdowne Street, Boston. We would hope that entertainers will not cross this picket line, but join us, in support of Margaret Cho.

We hope you will join us!
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Re: Did the Kerry Campaign order HRC to drop comedienne Margaret Cho?
25 Jul 2004
... what do you expect from the 'vanilla rights' campaign? They're a wishy/washy middle of the road gay advocacy group and they've also supported republicans in the past.