Act on Principles is a group promoting “Full LGBT civil rights now. No delay. No excuses.” The group is currently attempting to get the American Equality Bill (AEB) filed in the Senate. The AEB would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include ”sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as federally protected statuses.
Queer SOS is an activist project of the Act on Principles group that is focusing their attention on Senator Gillibrand of New York. Queer SOS wants Sen. Gillibrand to file the proposed American Equality Bill. Last Friday Queer SOS hosted “Flash Mob: Homophobia Kills Die-In” in Grand Central Station:
Aside from hosting energizing flash mob art-performances-with-a-message, Queer SOS is demonstrating daily outside of Sen. Gillibrand’s offices. This is part of the the communication that the AEB Project sent to Sen. Gillibrand on 9/17/10 (bolding is original):
Dear Senator Gillibrand,
I’m writing to request again that you commit to and file a Civil Rights bill for our community immediately.
As you know, it is the prime duty of Government to protect its citizens from discrimination and Congress has failed over 30 million LGBTQ people in this regard.
We can not wait any longer for action to redress this.
To press this issue, activists will be launching a daily, friendly vigil outside your campaign offices starting Sept. 27th until the American Equality Bill (AEB) is filed. If no bill is filed as of October 11th we plan to go 24/7, and then on Nov. 2nd to begin group fasting.
This is a very serious matter as people will be risking their health standing outside and fasting for basic human justice. We should not have to take these steps, but talking about this has failed and there is no other option.
We will broadcast our work daily, seek as much media attention as possible, and try to join you at other public campaign appearances.
Please know that this is not an opposition action in any way and that we are very happy your campaign is doing so well! But we NEED YOUR HELP now! We need this bill to organize around and there is no excuse for not filing it immediately.
rest of letter omitted
I support public demonstrations that do not harm or unduly inconvenience the audience to the point where they are coerced into taking action. Get out there, make your message known, go first amendment-protected speech!
But group fasting?
It appears to me that threatening a fast is a coercive action – Hey Senator, I’m going to hurt myself unless you do what I want you to do. I support the goals of this group and I want to support the group itself, but I have reservations about fasting as a political statement. I know that hunger strikes aren’t new, but why are they okay? Why is holding one’s health hostage an acceptable means of political pressure? Can anyone tell me why hunger strikes are appropriate, or give me arguments about why they are not?