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social sciences

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It was the direct actions on behalf of the repeal of DADT that first brought GetEqual to national attention, especially the arrests of McGehee, Lt. Dan Choi, Captain Jim Pietrangelo, and others who chained themselves to the White House fence on several occasions, most notably in November 2010 when it appeared that the long-sought repeal of DADT would fail.

The November 2010 direct action at the White House fence also brought GetEqual to the attention of the White House itself, when the day after her arrest Brian Bond, Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement, invited Robin McGehee to meet with him at the White House.

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The meeting almost did not happen because McGehee did not realize that the meeting was supposed to be off the record. She informed Bond that she would not have agreed to a meeting under such a condition and refused to promise to keep whatever was said in the meeting confidential. Bond proceeded with the meeting but said that he would only listen rather than respond to any questions.

McGehee used the meeting to make clear that the glbtq community was deeply dissatisfied with the Obama adminstration, telling him that she did not campaign door to door in deeply "red" areas of Fresno, California on behalf of a President who was failing to keep the promises he made to the glbtq community.

Although GetEqual has been criticized by establishment figures for its tactics—Congressman Barney Frank called them "tacky" and counterproductive--it is almost certain that DADT would not have been repealed in 2010 without the pressure applied by GetEqual through its demonstrations and civil disobedience.

As Paul Yandura has observed in reference to the DADT actions, "The protests and pushback that GetEqual, the bloggers and others created, changed the way that progressives and others viewed the issue. They created a relentless urgency for repeal," as epitomized by the image of Dan Choi and Jim Pietrangelo handcuffed to the White House fence. "The visual from that point forward for Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal changed from being a photo of dogtags and rainbows to protesters and handcuffs."

Yandura also commented that a secret to GetEqual's success was that their principal donor, Jonathan D. Lewis, and their leadership had no ulterior motives: they "did not want access [to politicians], an appointment, an ambassadorship or any other patronage, they wanted one thing—to be equal."

GetEqual has not only successfully pressured politicians to keep their commitments, but it has also inspired other direct action groups. Channeling the deep frustration and longing of the glbtq community for equal rights, GetEqual has emerged as a significant element in the quest for justice.

GetEqual's most significant achievement is to have captured the energy and imagination of a new generation of glbtq activists, who are attempting to reclaim the gay rights movement as not simply a political movement but, more profoundly, a civil rights movement.

Claude J. Summers

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The American glbtq movement for equality has largely allied itself with the Democratic Party.

social sciences >> Don't Ask, Don't Tell

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Domi, Tanya. "GetEqual's Wizard Advisor Paul Yandura: The Exclusive Interview." The New Civil Rights Movement (July 1, 2011):

GetEqual website:

Harmon, Andrew, and Kelly Eleveld. "The Rise of GetEqual." The Advocate (June 1, 2010):

McDonald, Patrick Range. "From Obama to Gay, Inc.: 'GetEqual' Shakes up Status Quo." LA Weekly (June 2, 2010):

Sudbay, Joe. "GetEqual's Robin McGehee Discusses Her Meeting at the White House." AMERICAblog gay (November 18, 2010):

Summers, Claude J. "Obama and the Gays." (December 1, 2010):

Wooledge, Scott [Clarknt67]. "Civil Disobedience and the LGBT Community." Pam's House Blend (May 26, 2010):


    Citation Information
    Author: Summers, Claude J.  
    Entry Title: GetEqual  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2011  
    Date Last Updated July 5, 2011  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2011 glbtq, Inc.  


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