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COMMENTARY: The enemy within

San Diego’s large and diverse LGBT community is often its worst enemy.

Petty tyrants somehow get appointed to the board of directors of our nonprofit organizations, and they then quickly put self-interest and personal ambition ahead of the good of the community.

Self-proclaimed leaders with hidden personal agendas often try to persuade other board members to heed to their bidding, dividing the board of directors and rendering the organization largely ineffective.

Some boards of directors are filled with such ineffective members that the staff ends up dictating the direction of the organization, violating the rules of their by-laws.

Some boards of directors are floundering due to loss of funding during economic hard times and have no answers on how to become financially viable again. Instead of reaching out to the community for help, they are trying to keep their dire financial situations a top secret, putting their organizations on the brink of collapse or failure.

Other boards of directors are run by domineering members who micromanage their professional staff, creating a work environment that is challenging and almost intolerable.

It does no good to name names, but these problems are real and only the tip of the iceberg. It shows how our community is being seriously harmed by the enemy within.

May is the month we celebrate the birthday of Harvey Milk, the gay civil rights hero who changed our world for the better before his assassination in 1978 in San Francisco. Isn’t it time we honor the legacy of Harvey Milk by cleaning up our organizations and getting back on the road toward healing our community?

San Diego’s mayoral election has polarized our community. Flame wars burn up Social Media. Friends suddenly become enemies. Normally rational and clear-thinking individuals turn into ranting lunatics lacking logic to their arguments.

We as voters are blessed to have four highly-qualified candidates for mayor, and half of them are gay or lesbian. When was the last time a major American city had two LGBT candidates for mayor in the same race? Never?

Yet, our community appears to be supporting a candidate who is not gay or lesbian. This seems to be because both LGBT candidates are Republicans. This lack of support from our community for our LGBT candidates raises eyebrows around the country.

Yes, a majority of LGBT Americans are Democrats or Independents, but a growing minority of LGBT Americans, including many among the younger generation, are identifying with the Republican Party. This seems to upset many members of our community, and is dividing us worse than any homophobic group could do.

It has been appalling to watch some board members in our community to use their platform on a community nonprofit to push their political views. Worse, their fellow board members are not stopping that illegal behavior, which could put into jeopardy that organization’s nonprofit status. Federal law prohibits 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations from political campaigning, and a violation could bring dire consequences and the wrath of the IRS.

Time has come for the LGBT community to do the right thing. If your organization’s mission is to help the LGBT community, stick to that mission. If your organization has rogue board members who are violating the law, purge yourself of the enemy within. If your organization has lost focus, vigorously find qualified volunteers in our community to bolster your group.

Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at ken@sdgln.com, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to (877) 727-5446, ext. 713.