The New Order

Print Date: 
September 25, 2007
The Advocate
William Henderson (interviews), Sye Williams and Christopher Lane (photographs)

Welcome to the vanguard of LGBT activism. Forty years since The Advocate was founded, 38 years since Stonewall, and decades since "the big three" gay advocacy organizations - The Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation - were founded, the paradigm has shifted. The organizations now propelling the movement now have smaller staffs and budgets but major impact. As the big three work on a macro level to lobby politicians, corporate leaders, entertainers, and other influential movers and shakers as well as pour millions of dollars - HRC has an annual budget of around $30 million - into wide-ranging research and initiatives, the "micro" groups featured on these pages are delivering on their laser-focused missions. The result? Progress up and down the scale of the fight for equality. Indeed, the little guy may be key to our success in the long haul.

The Palm Center Photograph

The Michael D. Palm Center
Year Founded: 1998
Headquarters: Santa Barbara, Calif.
Mission: Known until 2006 by it's original name, the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, this research institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is devoted to the interdisciplinary analysis of gays in the military, with particular focus on "don't ask, don't tell."
Annual Budget: $500,000
Number of Staff: 7
Innovation: Cranking out research that affects the public discourse, such as the center's widely covered December 2006 survey produced with Zogby International, in which 73% of respondents, all soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, reported they were comfortable with gay soldiers in their unit.
Impact: A New York Times op-ed by former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Gen. John Shalikashvili, cited the above survey in making his case for the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."
Recent work: In May the center released a report on gender-nonconforming service members, which debunked the military's stated assumption that their presence jeopardizes military effectiveness. The center is now working on a top secret project.
Future goals: The end of "don't ask, don't tell," at which time the center will begin to monitor and study the post-DADT era.