Revisiting The Dallas Principles in Dallas

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One of the things I’m looking forward to this week at Creating Change is meeting with some of those who helped last May to develop The Dallas Principles, a list of ideals for LGBT equality.

I wrote about the principles in June to try to help raise awareness. I also wrote about The Yogyakarta Principles which were written in 2006 to try to address LGBT rights on an international stage. These two documents serve to remind us of what it is we are truly after. When folks ask, “What would true equality look like?” these principles are there to help answer that question.

At the time, I thought the very existence of the principles was revolutionary. You can just look at the list and say, “Yes. This is what it’s all about.” John Bare, one of The Dallas Principles’ co-authors, has informed me a quote of mine is included in their CC presentation. I don’t think I said anything profound when I wrote about them, but maybe the fact I wrote about them at all was profound.

Nine months later, the Principles don’t seem to be any more prominent than they were then. Even I neglected to include them on my sidebar when I redesigned my blog in October (an omission I have rectified). What does it say about the movement for queer equality when the most clear and concise list of goals continues to go unwarranted?

For me, I think it shows how tentative we still are. Rather than demanding full equality, we are content to simply hope that soon it will be handed to us. We are either afraid to stand up for who we are, or as a collective persona, we’ve accepted that we’re destined to always be second-class citizens.

I am not content with either of those attitudes, and I know from the National Equality March that I’m not alone.

As I have followed the Proposition 8 trial, I have noticed something interesting about the way the defense has been trying their case for Prop 8. They often find ways to point out that there has been progress for queer equality, such as domestic partnership or civil union provisions. Their main goal has been to refute the notion that gays and lesbians are politically powerless, but they also illuminate an important symptom of our movement. We compromise. We settle. We get what we can get and proclaim victory. We’re way too gracious at the expense of our own equality.

Every time we make any bit of progress, we should immediately demand more. Until we are fully equal, we are unequal. We just don’t seem to get that.

So, whether you’re attending Creating Change this week or not, take a long hard look at The Dallas Principles. As our most prominent allies, such as President Obama or the Human Rights Campaign, continue to hedge on fighting for our equality, we have to seriously consider why we let them. Look at this simple list of what total and immediate equality would look like and tell yourself you’re content settling for less.


Being united by common principles and engaging in united action, we will achieve the following goals:

1. DIGNITY AND EQUALITY. Every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person has inherent dignity and worth, and has the right to live free of discrimination and harassment.

2. FAMILY. Every LGBT person has the right to a family without legal barriers to immigration, civil marriage or raising children.

3. ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY. Every LGBT person has the right to economic opportunity free from discrimination in employment, public housing, accommodation, public facilities, credit, and federally funded programs and activities.

4. EDUCATION. Every LGBT child and youth has the right to an education that is affirming, inclusive and free from bullying.

5. NATIONAL SECURITY. Every LGBT person should have the opportunity to serve our country openly and equally in our military and foreign service.

6. CRIME. Every LGBT person should enjoy life protected against bias crimes.

7. HEALTH CARE. Every person should have access to affordable, high quality, and culturally competent health care without discrimination.

I want to end this post by drawing your attention to two points from the call to action.

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.

5. Our allies need to be proactive in public support for full civil rights.

Are you doing all that you can?

Do you have a good reason not to?

Click here to find out what you could be doing. Read the full proclamation below:

The Dallas Principles

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