Friday, January 16, 2009

Desktop Activism

By: Davina Kotulski, Ph.D. - Author of Why You Should Give A Damn About Gay Marriage ( and Advisory Board Member for Marriage Equality USA (

Presidential Candidate Dick Gephardt said that “
Politics is an alternative to violence” and Gandhi said “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” I say let’s get fired up and make sure that LGBT equal rights are at the top of everyone’s radar screen. Not all of us can make every rally, donate $1000, or go to an organizing meeting, but everyone can do desktop activism.

Here’s what you need to begin:

Action #1
Needed: Telephone

Call the White House Comments Line at 202-456-1111 between 9AM and 5PM EST Monday-Friday. (I’ve programmed it into my cell phone). Tell President Obama that you want him to:

a) Repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
b) Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act
c) Help pass the Uniting American Families Act
d) Help pass the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act
e) Pass the Matthew Shepard Hate Crime Bill
f) Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Remind him that he supported marriage equality before he ran for president and that his religious beliefs are not a sufficient reason to deny LGBT Americans marriage equality. Call the White House Comments Line frequently. Share this number with others and encourage them to call frequently. Like I said, I have this programmed into my cell phone. LGBT rights need to stay on everyone’s minds. If you are a straight ally identify yourself. If you are religious identify yourself.

For example, “Hello, I am a married heterosexual man from Colorado. I belong to the United Church of Christ and I am calling to ask President Obama to elevate LGBT Americans by…” See above list.

Action #2
Needed: Paper, Pen, and Stamp.

Send a letter every week to President Obama and ask five people to do the same. With your letter you can send him a picture of you, your family, your wedding photo, your wedding announcement, your marriage license, etc. If you are in a same-sex marriage-ask him why your marriage license is not recognized throughout the country and to help you make it so. If you are in a heterosexual marriage ask him why your license comes with more rights that your LGBT friend’s, family member’s, or neighbor’s marriage license. Get creative. The president may never see your letter or photo, but the White House Staff will and it will create buzz and maybe help change their hearts and minds. Remember a lot of the White House Aids and Staffers may be big time politicians someday and they can tell our stories for us and advocate for LGBT rights if we give them the tools.

Below is a sample letter. Feel free to copy, amend, share, etc. Let’s take this to a new level. Yes we can!

January 21, 2009

Barack Obama, President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

Congratulations on your victory! Your candidacy and election to President of the United States is an incredible breakthrough and gives us hope for a more inclusive and just America. With your leadership, we can finally begin to end sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. We call on you to pass the following legislation to extend equality to LGBTI American citizens!

1. Repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Let LGBT people serve openly in our military. Polls confirm that most Americans think this policy is outdated and wastes money. A GAO report released in February 2005 found that the DADT policy cost the government “$95.4 million in recruiting costs and $95.1 million for training replacements for the 9,488 troops discharged from 1994 through 2003.” We could use that money right now to put America back on track.

2. Pass the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)
Pass a trans-inclusive ENDA protecting the rights of LGBT Americans in the workplace. No one should be fired from their job because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender.

3. Repeal the “Defense of Marriage” Act (DOMA)
Repeal DOMA which denies LGBTI Americans seeking to marry someone of the same-sex 1,138 federal rights that heterosexual married people have access to including: health insurance benefits, social security, filing joint federal income taxes, and having their marriage recognized outside of the state they were married in. Repealing DOMA would also save the federal government one billion dollars annually according to a 2004 GAO report.

4. Pass the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), (HR 2221, S 1328)
This bill would allow LGBTI Americans to sponser their partners for immigration and citizenship as heterosexual couples can through their marriage.

5. Pass the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (DPBO)
Under the DPBO LGBT federal employees would be able to give their unrecognized same-sex spouses/partners health insurance, life insurance, government pensions, and other employment related benefits that married heterosexual federal employees enjoy by being married and heterosexual. It’s time to eliminate this second-class status in the workplace.

6. Pass the Matthew Shepard Act Federal Hate Crimes Bill (H.R. 1592)
This bill would provide Federal assistance to States, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes to prosecute hate crimes.

Now is the time for equality for all Americans. Thank you for your leadership,

______________________________ Signature
______________________________ Printed Name
_______________________________ City, State, Zip


Richard said...

I know I'm a bit late in commenting on this post, but thank you for such a great piece! I'm a firm believer in "micro-actions," easy things that people can do from home. They can add up quickly, and this post lays it out in a simple, step-by-step way.

Thanks again!

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