The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Friday, November 14, 2008

Birmingham Protest Cancelled

Join the Impact has cancelled the Birmingham event. No one from Central Alabama Pride or Equality Alabama, the supposed leaders of our community, thought this important enough to acquire the necessary permit. In spite of my emails and myspace messages to leaders of both groups urging them to. Without the permit, there would be no police protection, and remember, there are crazies out there. Plus, we want to do everything by the book.

On Join the Impact numerous people indicated they would be there. I hope they see that the event is cancelled.

The rest of the nation will be protesting, we will be on the sidelines.

More protests will be held, I am told by Join the Impact, and I assured them this would not happen again.

This will make the extremists in our community happy, but change and progress is coming. It can not be stopped, in spite of ourselves.

14 comments:

Mark590 said...

Central Alabama Pride, Inc is a non profit organization recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization. Because of this status, the organization can NOT endorse or be in charge of political rallys/protests.

Mark Cummings
Vice President
Central Alabama Pride, Inc.
Mark590@aol.com

Joe Openshaw said...

Well it just seems that people who lead groups such as this could find a way to allow us to protest, rather than sit back and do nothing. This was a HUGE opportunity. I assume you have mnay members and at least one probably could have gotten a permit or knows somebody that could.

Trey said...

what joe said.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe. I know you are disappointed. However, I am sad to say that is it not surprising to me that a permit was not obtained. The gay community in Birmingham does not seem to all be on the same page. I know a man who was fired for being gay. It was blatant. A few gay people were angry for a few days . . . . then went right back to patronizing this business. This matter is in litigation now so I have to guard what I say . . .but all I will say is the gay community can't have its "cake" and eat it too. Gay leadership can't expect support from the community if they can't garner it from their own . . .

Very sad . . . -- Susan F

J.P. said...

While this is certainly disappointing, I'm not sure that it is fair to place the blame on any one person or organization. A leader is simply someone who steps up in a time of need, and we all dropped the ball there.

Joe Openshaw said...

Right JP, I take some blame as well. I will get a permit next time myself. But those who are chosen to be leaders, should be the leaders.

Joe Openshaw said...

Susan I agree. I could be really critical, but I will hold back. Let's just be glad that we will have true leadership in our President who will support our community, and progress will be made.

Trey, thanks for being a straight ally as well. You will get another chance I am sure.

Knol Aust said...

Sad! I hope you guys can participate in the future protests! We'll rally for you over in Jackson and Hattiesburg Mississippi!

Knol Aust
Unity Mississippi
www.unityms.org

Joe Openshaw said...

I received this from a member of the Equality Alabama Board, who gave me permission to print this:

I did not receive any request concerning arranging for a parade permit. I did receive your announcement email today, forwarded through the Equality web site. If there is a chance to discuss this, and to make sure we have communication set up for future such events, we should be able to avoid such disconnects in the future. Please let me know how to best contact you so we can arrange a meeting of representatives of Equality, Pride, and you. I apologize for the fact that Equality has not done a better job of bringing together the various groups which represent our community.

On the national scene, these protest have not been promoted by the major advocacy groups. For instance, the Equality Federation which is the organization of state advocacy groups distributed the notices they received. Most of the states that responded to the notice indicated that they would not participate as it was a conflict with other already scheduled activities. Others said they were not taking leadership but would attend to collect contact information. Overall the opinion has been that Saturday's protest was not aimed at the correct venue and was not proposed with sufficient time to plan for success. The recurring opinion I heard was that marriage is a state issue so demonstrating at city halls would be confusing. HRC also sent out a luke-warm statement of support. Even Equality California sent out an email which noted that the protests were scheduled but requested priority for showing support for the California officials, like the governor, who had joined the court battle to overturn the vote as an improper approach to amending the California constitution.



Equality decided to save our energy and resources for the issues we hope to be able to achieve this year:

Passage of a fully inclusive Hate Crime law.

Passage of an anti-bullying law which requires schools to protect LGBT students.

Introduction of fully inclusive non-discrimination legislation.



I look forward to talking with you and joining forces for future activities.

Joe Openshaw said...

I am not surprised at the lack of involvement of the national groups. It seems that "if it is not their idea", they don't support things. I published an editorial on Advocate.com a couple of years ago regarding my concern regarding the focus of all the national organizations, and my response from Equality then was lukewarm, even though the focus of the article was to bring more gay events and focus to red states rather than spending resources where things shoiuld pass anyway. Well, we see that is not always so, but still, it comes down to we all DO need to work together, even when our strategies may be different.

Anonymous said...

You do NOT need a permit to simply protest on the sidewalk/ditch. That is public property and you have every right to be there. You DO need a permit to parade in the streets though. And you DO NOT need a permit to press charges if you are assaulted or harassed.

If you guys are willing to back down this easily, it shows how little you truly care. :(

Joe Openshaw said...

You are wrong. I spoke at length with an officer in Birmmingham who is in charge of issuing permits. Sidewalks are part of the Public Right of Way. Up to six people can demonstrate without a permit. I am going to address this more in another post.

Jeff Worrell said...

I too feel the lost opportunity. But, I feel like the information regarding this national effort reached Equality Alabama at a late date, as it did with me. I didn't learn of it until Thursday.

It is important to remember that EA did not have the monopoly on organizing this effort locally. ANY ONE OF US could have accepted the opportunity to serve.

More importantly, there are still other ways to participate. www.jointheimpact.com lists these including Day without a Gay and Blue for Equality. Plus, there is another National protest scheduled for January 10th.

Let us remain united in our struggle, despite the frustration with the rate at which progress comes.

Kathy said...

Joe, from my perspective Join the Impact took a "ready, fire, aim" approach to organizing the protests. I understand that they had a tight time frame, but what they proposed here seemed to be a demand that local organizations expend very limited resources promoting an event that would have minimal impact. A Saturday demonstration in front of city hall could be very effective in New York, but that area of Birmingham is empty on the weekends. There is no audience to influence.

I hope Join the Impact and other organizations continue to encourage constructive pushback against anti-equality measures, and I will contact the organizers myself to suggest that they give more notice and solicit input from the "boots on the ground" before announcing an event.

Thank you for all you do to keep the struggle for equality front and center!