You may not like the National Equality March for a variety of substantive reasons, and that’s fine with me. The October 11 March on the DC National Mall, dedicated to the proposition that all people regardless of sexual orientation should be treated equally under the law, may not float your boat. Fine. But have a good reason for it.
Queerty, which has poked at the National Equality March from the moment it was announced, really came up with a doozy the other day. “Cleve Jones’ Shady History With Tax-Exempt Organizations,” their article headlines. Here’s what follows:
The National Equality March says it will open its books sometime in the coming weeks to give everyone a peek at how Cleve Jones & Co. are spending all that cash money you’ve been donating (almost $150,000 from 60,000 people). But one thing of note:
NEM isn’t registered as its own tax-exempt non-profit, but as a subsidiary of the Tides Center in San Francisco.
Know what else was supposedly a tax-exempt subsidiary of Tides?
The new organization Jones supposedly created as part of a settlement agreement with the Names Project Foundation — which owns the AIDS Memorial Quilt that Jones built his legacy on — in order to receive part of the quilt after the two parties had a falling out. Except when Names’ attorneys tried to find this new organization, they couldn’t.
Oooooh. Follow that link and read on as this attorney, Charles Thompson, complains:
“I don’t really know what Tides does, but when I look in federal and state records for a 501(c)(3) called what Cleve supposedly called it, it’s not there.”
What’s this? An organization that does not exist? Cue the tympanies! Call the mod squad!
… or not. Let’s take a look into the empirical claim Queerty is trying to make: that, because some attorney could not find a 501(c)(3) registration for a subsidiary of the Tides Center, the efforts of the Tides Center (and the implied cabal leader of it all, Cleve Jones) are shady and reflect an organization of even questionable existence and dastardly motives.
Neither is true.
The Tides Center can be found at tidescenter.org. So can the IRS 501(c)(3) report for 2007, the year that lawyer Charles Thompson said no 501(c)(3) reports could be found. Oh, look: here’s their 501(c)(3) report for 2006. Oh, look: here’s their 501(c)(3) report for 2005. Obviously it existed and still does exist.
As a read of the IRS Form 990 disclosures also show, Cleve Jones is not in charge of the Tides Center. A visit to the Tides Center website shows that Cleve Jones is neither an executive of the Tides Center nor on the board of directors. The National Equality March is very clearly and openly a project of the Tides Center, a non-profit organization whose records are open to all. Take a look for yourself at what the Tides Center does.
I have no relationship whatsoever with Cleve Jones, with Queerty, or with the Tides Center, by the way. I’m not even in the benefit pool for the National Equality March or other marriage equality efforts, being a married straight guy who already has all the benefits same-sex couples should have. The point is that I have no axe to grind on this. You have a problem, a real problem, with the National Equality March? Fine. Air it. Talk about it. But this? This kind of counterfactual niggling is just plain bizarre. I can’t peek into anyone’s motivations with certainty, but from where I stand it sure looks like there’s some drama going on behind the scenes here, some really petty intramural bitching, that is leading to the taking of sides on who will go to which event or endorse what action.
I don’t care about the bitching, and I don’t care about the drama. What I care about is that there are people who despite the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution are denied the equal protection of law in this country. Why are same-sex couples being denied equal protection under law? Because a sizeable portion of this country has not yet left middle school, with all its smear-the-queer and its oh-that’s-so-gay and its peering prurient insistence that someone else’s love life is up for public judgment.
How disappointing that a social movement trying to drag this country out of middle-school immaturity is mired in middle-school immaturity.
Maybe Queerty doesn’t have some axe to grind, in which case it surely will post a clarification. But I don’t think that’s forthcoming. Heck; I tried posting a milder version of my point as a comment to Queerty, and it hasn’t made it past their moderators. Sigh.