Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Whatever Happened To 'The Dallas Principles'?

On May 15-17, 2009 a meeting was held at the DFW Airport Hyatt Regency hotel by 24 LGBT activists who were frustrated about the fulfillment pace of campaign promises made by the Obama Administration.

What came out of that meeting was a set of widely trumpeted guidelines to achieve LGBT equality that became known as 'The Dallas Principles'.

The authors of the Dallas Principles are Juan Ahonen-Jover, Ken Ahonen-Jover, John Bare, Jarrett Barrios, Dana Beyer, Jeffrey H. Campagna, Mandy Carter, Michael Coe, Jimmy Creech, Allison Duncan, Michael Guest, Joanne Herman, Donald Hitchcock, Lane Hudson, Charles Merrill, Dixon Osburn, Lisa Polyak, Barbra Casbar Siperstein, Pam Spaulding, Andy Szekeres, Lisa Turner, Jon Winkleman, and Paul Yandura.


President Obama and Congress pledged to lead America in a new direction that included civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. We now sit at a great moment in our history that inspires the nation to return to its highest ideals and greatest promise. We face a historic opportunity to obtain our full civil rights; this is the moment for change. No delay. No excuses.

Nearly forty years ago, a diverse group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people stood up to injustice at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. In doing so, they submitted themselves to bodily harm and criminal prosecution. Their demand was simple -- equal protection under the law.

Still today, full civil rights has eluded the same community that rioted forty years ago. Instead, untold sums of resources have been spent to divide our nation and turn our lives into a political football.
At several junctures in American history, the stars have aligned to deliver the promise of equal protection under the law to those previously denied. At this unique time in history, our nation must once again exercise the great tradition of making its people equal.

Justice has too long been delayed. A clear path toward full civil equality for the LGBT community is overdue and must come now.

Using fear and misunderstanding to justify discrimination is no longer acceptable in this nation. Those content with the way things are will be judged harshly by history. Those who do not actively advance these ideals or offer excuses will be judged just as harshly. Those who attempt to divide our community or to delay and deny action on civil equality, waiting for the right moment to arrive, will be held accountable.

We reject the idea that honoring the founding principles of our country is controversial. We believe in the inherent human dignity of all people. No longer will we submit our children, our family, our friends and ourselves as a political tool for any Party or ideology. A new day has arrived.

The following eight guiding principles underlie our call to action.  

In order to achieve full civil rights now, we avow

1.Full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals must be enacted now.  Delay and excuses are no longer acceptable.
2.We will not leave any part of our community behind.
3.Separate is never equal.
4.Religious beliefs are not a basis upon which to affirm or deny civil rights.
5.The establishment and guardianship of full civil rights is a non-partisan issue.
6.Individual involvement and grassroots action are paramount to success and must be encouraged.
7.Success is measured by the civil rights we all achieve, not by words, access or money raised.
8.Those who seek our support are expected to commit to these principles.


1. We demand that government officials act now to achieve full civil rights without delay.
2. Our organizations and individuals need to develop a collaborative and revolutionary new organizing model that mobilizes millions of supporters through emerging web and phone technologies.
3. All LGBT individuals must accept personal responsibility to do everything within their power for equality and should get involved in the movement by volunteering, giving and being out.
4. We will hold elected officials and our organizations accountable for being transparent and achieving full civil rights by active participation when possible and active opposition when necessary.
5. Our allies need to be proactive in public support for full civil rights.
6. Every government measure that quantifies the US citizenry must permit LGBT individuals to self-identify and be counted in every way citizens are counted.
7. We demand that the media present LGBT lives in fair, accurate and objective ways that neither include nor give credence to unsubstantiated, discriminatory claims and opinions.


The Dallas PrinciplesEver since those lofty principles were espoused and trumpeted to the TBLG community back in 2009 across the Gayosphere, those of us in the trans community have openly wondered whatever happened to those Dallas Principles?  

While the Facebook page for them is still up, the host website they were initially published on is no longer up because it reportedly went out of business.

Granted, I know two of the authors of the Dallas Principles personally.  Three others I'm acquainted with online.  I presume the intent in that room was to help get conversations started on the rainbow community human rights agenda. get the federal legislative agenda moving and make sure President Obama didn't forget his promises made to a community that helped elect him and the Democratic House and Senate majority. 

But what bothered me at the time was the Dallas Principles were being pushed at a time when President Obama was barely three and a half months into his first term and trying to clean up the mess that got dropped in his presidential lap by the Bush misadministration. 

He had two wars, the fiscal crisis that was threatening to turn into a second Great Depression, and Massive Resistance 2.0 from Republicans hell bent on achieving their goal of making him a one term president.   In the context of this situation you had this group emerging from a Dallas hotel saying you haven't kept your promises to the gay community without giving him a reasonable time in his first term to do so like other interest groups were doing..

There was also the bad blood still percolating between white and Black TBLG peeps over the November 2008 Prop 8 loss in California and the internal anti-Black bigotry that erupted afterwards. 

The problem of the Dallas Principles as far much of the trans community is concerned has been in their implementation and execution. 

We've seen the Principles repeatedly violated when it comes to the gay and lesbian community getting what it legislatively wants in terms of marriage equality, an issue that predominately benefits them.   We've seen them once again revert to their historical tendency of being far too willing to throw the trans community under the civil rights bus to get the ability to marry at the expense of other GLBT rights issues. 

If there's legislation that is good for the community that will primarily benefit the trans community or it isn't marriage related, the GL folks will sit on their behinds, twiddle their thumbs and say, 'that's your issue'.

Think I'm being harsh with that assessment?   Let's see. 

There was the 2010 passage of the DADT repeal bill during the lame duck session of Congress that left transpeople behind and violated Dallas Principles 1, 2, 3 and 7

There was marriage equality being passed in New York in 2011, Maryland last year and Delaware in 2013  that also violated Principles 1, 2, 3 and 7 as the trans communities in those states were left behind again with no civil rights protection.

As I write this GENDA has been passed for six straight legislative session in the NY assembly but is running into its usual GOP-led resistance in the NY Senate. The trans communities in New York state, Maryland and Delaware are asking along with the rest of us in the country where's that all out push in support of the trans community basic human rights that will also expand rights for the GLB sectors of our community? 

DADT repeal still doesn't cover trans people, and all we hear in terms of ongoing efforts to rectify that situation is more khaki-flavored marriage stuff instead of getting transpeople the ability to serve their country, too.

Were the Dallas Principles a sincere attempt to change the way the BTLG rights movement goes about its business or did they evolve into public relations woof tickets aimed at dissenting TBLG peeps expressing increasing discontent about the 'all marriage all the time' direction of the LGBT rights movement?

Four years after their creation, it seems like sadly, the latter statement is true.

No comments: