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Hypocrisy In The Gay Rights Movement?

Hypocrisy In The Gay Rights Movement?

News website Seattlepi.com is claiming that a member of a conservative Christian organization has demanded city officials release membership lists of a gay employees group called the “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Friends” organization, as well as copies of sign-in sheets, minutes of the group’s meetings and the city departments that each member belongs to.

This move, whilst regarded as legal, has raised serious questions about what information people should be able to access and a temporary court injunction has stalled the release of any documents whilst members of the gay group file a lawsuit challenging the request. But is this hypocrisy on the part of gay rights groups?

The man making the request is Phillip Irvin, a 58-year-old City Light employee who requested for the documents to be released in early May. As a matter of course, the city’s public-disclosure office notified those people who’s names would be released. Reacting to this, a proportion of those notified sued the city, claiming that the city had a duty to protect their identities under public-records law.

The question of why Mr. Irvin would want access to the information has largely gone unasked, but it is no doubt an issue that Cecilia Cordova, the attorney representing members of the LGBT group, will raise and pursue during the trail.

Faith and Freedom, the organization Mr. Irvin belongs to, an organization that regularly speaks out against homosexuality in America, reports Mr. Irvin has been in contact with them and has given the following reason for requesting the names and departments of the LGBT group’s members:

“Seattle Public Utilities sponsored a “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Friends” employees group which has free use of City e-mail and meeting rooms and most likely even has a city job number to charge their organizational time to. They have even got an all-employees e-mail invitation persuading employees to attend a one-sided forum on a lesbian mother’s child custody issues… There seems to be rank hypocrisy among the gay community. Publishing names and addresses on a website of those who oppose them by signing a petition is fair game but releasing the names of those who use city resources to promote their agenda causes them to howl. Call me a homophobe if you want to, but I don’t think the city should fund a secret gay employees group.” To read the full statement go here.

The website the statement is referring to as a “hypocrisy” is called WhoSigned.org, a Washington based movement that threatens to list the names of those who sign petitions against Referendum 71, 2009′s Domestic Partner Expansion Bill which would give gay couples the same rights and benefits as married couples.

They are partnered to KnowThyNeighbor.org, who have said they will “out” those who signed petitions against gay friendly legislation in states like Florida and Oregon, by publishing them on a searchable public database once the petitioners names were accessible. This has drawn criticism from conservative groups as well as some gay rights groups as a bullying tactic, and in the light of happenings in Seattle does seem to be hypocritical, at least on the surface.

It should be noted that, according to Seattlepi.com, Irvin’s request for the information was made before it was announced that the afformentioned gay groups would start publishing the names of petitioners (something that is, in fact, already accessible).

Representing the city, Attorney Tom Carr has stated that this information should not be open to the public, but that state law, as it stands, allows its release, and any attempt to block that runs contrary to current regulations (Legislature amended information release laws to make them more efficient, but in so doing curtailed the ability of the state to weigh public interest against the data being shared which, no doubt, would have prevented this kind of information being accessed).

Carr told reporters “This is a group of people who have historically been discriminated against and in some cases physically attacked, and I would prefer to protect their names… but my preferences aren’t relevant here, and the law is clear.” He then added, “If the law’s wrong, the people who can change it are in the Legislature.”

That is why objecting in this case is not hypocritical. That is not to say that I condone the recent spate of “outing” websites that have popped up around the internet, because I think they are counterproductive, no matter how they were intended. The founders of Whosigned.org and the like claim the websites are to start a dialogue and to promote transparent action, both of which are worthy causes, but will unfortunately always be interpreted as a bullying tactic by those opposed to gay friendly legislation– something that can only hinder the cause. 

But allowing information like the names and office departments of members of LGBT groups is different to publishing the names of those who petition against LGBT friendly legislature. The latter are not likely to be intimidated in the workplace, attacked or worse, for being against LGBT legislation. This is a serious weakness of Seattle’s legislation and needs to be amended quickly, because Carr is right, under current law, there is no reason to stop this information being provided.

The Superior Court Judge John Erlick will begin to hear testimony on the case this week. Hopefully, Seattle legislators will pay attention to this case and make changes that are needed to protect LGBT workers.

What this case demonstrates perfectly however, is that, in the quest for equality and the establishing of civil rights, it is important that, at all times, those who partake in the movement must never stoop to “dirty tactics” or “mud-slinging” but instead concentrate on positive action.

Three Positive Actions You Can Take for Furthering Gay Rights:

Sign this petition for action on Proposition 8.

Support gay war veterans by signing this petition calling for fair and equal treatment.

Sign this petition to urge President Obama to keep his promise to overturn the discriminatory Defense of Marriages Act.

Read more: , , , ,


Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Faeryboots.

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16 comments

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2:09PM PDT on Jun 21, 2009

Sounds like Irvin just wants to start some drama and make a fast buck.

10:24PM PDT on Jun 15, 2009

I think this says it all: Irvin's request for the information was made before it was announced that the afformentioned gay groups would start publishing the names of petitioners..." - so, homophobe (and he even admits it) Irvin did this BEFORE anything else. Therefore the brunt of gulit should fall on those who start something wrong FIRST which are AGAIN antigays and heterosexists.

8:43AM PDT on Jun 14, 2009

This outrageous idea smacks of McCarthyism. During the 1950's thousands of people lost their jobs and reputations because Senator Joe McCarthy branded them as Communists or Communist sympathizers. Wouldn't the radical right love it if this happened with gays?

There have already been two shootings carried out by right wing fanatics. If lists bearing the names of people who are gay are released to the public the hate crimes are certain to escalate. So what if those who who oppose gay friendly legislators are known? How many crimes against homophobics are commited by gays?

People who are gay just want to live their lives freely and without fear. Making their names public will just increase the violence against them by the far right.

10:05PM PDT on Jun 13, 2009

This old lady is having health issues, so once again I am here to say something. I must clarify; I have no granddaughters or I would give them the same aforementioned comment.

9:58PM PDT on Jun 13, 2009

May I say just one more thing? I have five grandsons ranging in age from 17 yrs. to 2 yrs. If any or all came to me and said "Granny, I'm gay", my response would be "I don't care and tell me how I can protect you from all the ignorant a--holes who do"

9:49PM PDT on Jun 13, 2009

Why are there not more people disturbed about the treatment of Gays and Lesbians in this country? I am a 60 year old granny who is completely disgusted by those who won't help ALL the beautiful people in this world.

6:03PM PDT on Jun 13, 2009

Anyone so naive as to think that physical harassment of gays is not a reality has to read the papers and watch the news and enter this planet. If divulging these names to some Hitlerian hate-monger is legal, the law has to be changed. It is nobody else's business who is a member of an employee group. As far as the LGBT movement and civil rights in general, same sex marriage is winning approval in many states, but the gays who voted for Obama now see a homophobe in the White House. His Department of Justice (under his direction, I am sure) has motioned to the Supreme Court in favor of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" existing law. And the same Department of Justice is making motions to lower courts to rule against same-sex marriage. President Obama is certainly not candidate Obama. "We were robbed!"

10:33AM PDT on Jun 13, 2009

Whether or not there is hypocrisy within the gay rights movement is not the point here. The point is that people have been harrassed, hounded and murdered for being gay or even standing up for gay rights.

Releasing a list of the type that this man is asking for will indeed place those on the list in danger. While I have seen rank hypocrisy in many groups with which I have been involved, I would never try to take revenge on those who dislike women, for example.

Membership lists for organizations are not usually considered public documents. To force any organization to release a list of its members is stupid at best and dangerous at worst.

I do not wish to be subjected to someone ranting and raving about what they believe in (and telling me I'll go to hell if I don't believe).

As much as I don't like to say it, there may come a time when we will have to physically fight for our freedoms.

1:58PM PDT on Jun 12, 2009

Ugh! A petition is a legal document used in court and therefore falls into the public domain. All sorts of groups use public buildings (including churches) for all sorts of reasons. This is a lame attempt by pro-theocracy fundamentalists to keep equal justice for all Americans from becoming a reality. Personally, I don't care who knows I'm for the American dream, I'm anti-theocracy and pro-America.

We are talking about public domain documents and a private membership organization's internal documentation. The only thing public about it is that they use a public building - kinda like the Boy Scouts.

The pro-theocracy fundamentalist is using the following false logic: An apple is round and a baseball is round; therefore, you can eat a baseball because to do otherwise is hypocrisy.

1:22PM PDT on Jun 12, 2009

Bleepin' EXCUSE ME! How would this go over if a white male person demanded a similar list of Black/African-American employees from a similar type of employee group?!!! THIS IS JUST A WAY TO CREATE A STALKERS' LIST FOR A BUNCH OF HOMOPHOBIC NUTCASES - AND IN THE AFTER MATH OF THE ASSASSINATIONS OF PROGRESSIVES E.G. DR. TILLER BY RIGHTWING NUTJOBS THIS MONTH ALREADY, IT IS ABSOLUTELY GENOCIDAL TO ALLOW FOR RELEASE OF LGBT-SUPPORT GROUP MEMBERSHIP LISTS TO ANTI-GAY GROUPS!!!
Readers: Do you GET it? This is how Nazi's collected lists of targets - this is how fascist groups 'work'!!! If YOU don't feel personally threatened - yet [!] - do you get why I DO?!!!
NO GIVING IN TO HOMOPHOBIC ATTACK GROUPS - FASCIST ASSASSINATIONS ARE ON THE RISE - SUPPORT LGBTs IN A REAL WAY - OPPOSE THIS 'INITIATIVE' AND COME STAND WITH US AT PRIDE! FIGHT FOR LOVE AND JUSTICE!!

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