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dotgay has a third crack at .gay appeal

Kevin Murphy, February 19, 2016, 16:15:17 (UTC), Domain Policy

dotgay LLC has filed another appeal with ICANN, hoping to get its community-based .gay application back in the race.

It submitted a third Request for Reconsideration (pdf) this week, arguing on a technicality that its bid should have another Community Priority Evaluation.

The company has already lost two CPEs based on the Economist Intelligence Unit CPE panel’s belief that its definition of “gay” is too broad because it includes straight people.

It’s also lost two RfRs, which are adjudicated by ICANN’s Board Governance Committee.

The newest RfR addresses not the core “not gay enough” issue, but a procedural error at the EIU it believes it has identified.

According to the filing, dotgay is in possession of emails from an EIU employee who was responsible for verifying some of the dozens of support letters it had received from dotgay’s backers (generally equal rights campaign groups).

The company argues, citing the BGC’s own words, that this employee was not one of the official CPE “evaluators”, which means the EIU broke its own rules of procedure:

considering the fact that the CPE Process Document – which is considered by the BGC to be “consistent with” and “strictly adheres to the Guidebook’s criteria and requirements”, it is clear that the verification of the letters should have been performed by an independent evaluator… and not by someone “responsible for communicating with the authors of support and opposition letters regarding verification in the ordinary course of his work for the EIU”.

It wants the CPE to be conducted again, saying “it is obvious that the outcome of a process is often, if not always, determined by the fact whether the correct process has been followed”.

It’s difficult to see how the outcome of a third CPE, should one be undertaken, could be any different to the first two. Who verifies the support letters doesn’t seem to speak to the reason dotgay hasn’t scored enough points on its other two attempts.

But the alternative for the company is an expensive auction with the other .gay applicants.

Another CPE would at least buy it time to pile more political pressure on ICANN and the EIU.

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Comments (10)

  1. Andrew says:

    I don’t understand what they hope to gain, since they know the CPE will be denied. Perhaps by further delaying .gay, they hope to bring the other applicants to the table to negotiate a deal? I doubt that will happen.

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      Losing applicants have nothing else to loose when dragging TLDs into accountability purgatorium. No matter how abysmally small the chance is, it’s better than nothing; this applies to community applicants, niche applicants, portfolio applicants…

  2. Jamie Baxter says:

    The simple answer to what could be gained is a fair and unbiased evaluation. The EIU has clearly applied double standards to the .GAY application for reasons they will never be held accountable for. This is not a unique example of what marginalized communities like the gay community face on a daily basis. dotgay has twice shown where clear procedures are not being followed by the EIU in public view. What else has to be done to raise further concerns with what is taking place behind closed doors at the EIU, especially given our community’s long history of known mistreatment and repression. There is nothing wrong with the .GAY community application. The problem is with those aiming to divide the community instead of letting the community further unite, protect itself and create economic empowerment by way of a TLD.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      Every applicant that lost out due to a CPE (whether they were the community applicant or not) thinks they’ve been treated inconsistently.

      Because they have. The system is all over the place.

      I’m yet to be persuaded that .gay is being handled uniquely badly, and I think insinuations about homophobia are not especially useful.

      • Jamie Baxter says:

        You make a valid point about the CPEs being all over the place Kevin and I continue to believe that ICANN should stand up to any mistreat – be it unique or not. It is something that has not been dealt with in general, even when others not party to CPE stakes have spoken up about it.

        Homophobia is not what’s described above. It is marginalization. Those who are subject to marginalization often find themselves struggling to achieve equality because they are not understood or considered worthy of such equal treatment by the mainstream.

        You don’t have to look to far to see that there is a long history of the gay community being held from it’s fair shake while irrational excuses get used to reason away our rights and equal access. It has less to do with being LGBTQIA, but more to do with being on the fringe of society where others wish to keep you. The gay community is only one of the many marginalized communities that exist in society and certainly one that is a common target to being held from fair treatment.

        For years our community has been disadvantaged because rights and protections have been argued away behind closed doors, where we don’t have a voice or advocate to ensure we are treated fairly. That is a fact and continues to be a living reality for many in our community around the world. The “research” and “documents” the EIU are relying on to make their case are apparently never going to be scrutinized, despite consistent and cohesive outcry from the global gay community.

        I believe it is important to recognize our struggle in society and to take note of accomplishments that have brought us closer to equality. In those instances you can find the error of prior ways, making it very clear how our community was marginalized. Gay marriage is a very simple example to use, and it didn’t happen without the constant effort of the LGBTQIA – not the good hearts of those who were previously marginalizing us. That is why the LGBTQIA are standing up to ICANN and highlighting the error of their ways, because we don’t want to wake up in ten years and remember how we lost a valuable resource (that is a commonly known term for our community) on the Internet simply because we were marginalized and misunderstood during the first round of the new gTLD program.

        I do think it is important to reiterate here that there is global consensus from the gay community on this issue (minus 1 letter from 1 community center), not a simple task to achieve within such a diverse and geographically dispersed community. Somehow that fact is getting lost in a process where 2 people get to sit behind closed doors, not following the prescribed process that they wrote themselves to evaluate each application, reference materials that will never be verified as real or legitimate, and decide if GAY is appropriate for the gay community to use as a TLD simply because they have chosen to divide and exclude some segments of the community.

        Sadly, this is nothing new to those who continue to be marginalized.

        • Kevin Murphy says:

          Speaking as a member of the “gay” community (by which I mean an “ally”, who has partied at SF Pride and marched against the Pope in lockstep with Sir Ian) I have to say I don’t feel marginalized in the slightest.

          • Jamie Baxter says:

            An issue you raise in your response here Kevin is quite important actually and we thank you for bringing it to focus through this discussion.

            The simple fact that you and so many others can participate in San Francisco pride as you do is not an accident. Years of activism and demand for LGBTQIA protections in San Francisco, spearheaded primarily by the community itself, is what allows that particular pride event to be among the most free and celebratory in the world. It requires the buy in, commitment and approvals of city officials, law enforcement and so many others who are necessary to give access and provide a safe space for the LGBTQIA on that particular day. San Francisco however is unlike most other cities and towns around the world, where access and safety are not so easily offered or attained. The unfortunate fact is that there is no foreseeable future where all LGBTQIA people will benefit from such equal opportunity or protections, or even fractions of what is currently enjoyed in San Francisco.

            The Internet has been a game changer for the gay community, but it still has limitations and shortcomings that link directly to the safety, visibility and empowerment of the LGBTQIA.

            What the community application for .GAY provides, and what has been a central focus for such incredible buy in from the gay community around the world, is that it puts the LGBTQIA in a control of their own protection and safety online. It removes the unsteady and unpredictable barrier that often limits and marginalizes the gay community in so many places outside of San Francisco. Just like community centers, gay bars and pride celebrations (like the one you attended) have provided physical safe spaces for the LGBTQIA in many parts of the world, now there is an opportunity for the gay community to secure a virtual space capable of doing the same. It is important and will be the catalyst to provide a healthier environment for the LGBTQIA as described in the application.

            The gay community was put to task on the best string choice among the many terms it has been described with in its long history, and the community collectively chose GAY – hence the overwhelming written support for it. It is a term used regularly to describe the LGBTQIA all over the world, across languages and cultures – and even on the pages of the EIU’s sister company The Economist. To stand in front of the community now and attempt to divide and dismiss the LGBTQIA efforts by saying that it has overreached is unbelievable. The EIU failure and ICANN’s acceptance of the .GAY community application in CPE is not perceived as the simple rejection of dotgay LLC’s application, but instead as a rejection of the global gay community’s collaborative wishes to be part of the Internet ecosystem.

            Marginalization may not be something the LGBTQIA folks of San Francisco feel at the height of gay pride each June, but it is certainly something that is felt repeatedly throughout the gay community all over the world. If the EIU and ICANN were to understand and acknowledge the reality of the gay community outside of San Francisco, I would hope that it provides revelation to the error of their ways.

  3. Avri Doria says:

    One note, in this case Ally is meant to include those companies who have met the criteria for support of the gay community in the employment, health benefits and other attributes. These companies are he ones who get listed in indices such as HRC’s Equality Index . Note: ICANN does not qualify – wonder why.

    As hard as they try, and though many consider corporations to be people too, they cannot actually be LGBTQI. The best they can do is be Allies.

    As for alternatives, I am assuming there is a long way to go before an auction.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      It seems to me that dotgay envisages .gay as a TLD for organizations and companies that want to affiliate themselves with a cause, rather than people who just are gay and want to express themselves.

      Is that a fair characterization?

  4. Avri Doria says:

    I do not think that is a correct characterization. Certainly I believe that they do not mean for it to be a free for all with all the hate and malignancy that is so often directed at the gay community and its members. But I think they do mean for it to be space for expression and assembly. A space on the Internet that the gay community could trust and develop; one within which innovation would be possible.

    From the beginning, it plans to provide a safe space for community organizations and their members/affiliates and others to express themselves and provide information that can be trusted by the rest of the community. It creates a meeting place, an assembly point on the Internet for the gay community to come together. Certainly expression is one of the goals as is the linking of gay business-to-business on the net. It is also meant to support Employee Resource Groups in businesses, and Gay Straight Alliances in the educational systems, in creating safe environments for the gay community. Using .gay to help the global community in its efforts to escape the persecution that goes on in so much of the world is a large goal, as is creating links through various directories so that the members of the gay community can find safe and gay friendly service and businesses around the world that they can feel secure using.

    As the TLD .gay would be managed for the public interest of the gay community, they also plan to give 67% of the profits to the community for various community purposes yet to be determined by a foundation to be formed for that purpose. Following the lead of its community advisory, dotgay intends to review and add new innovative community services over time.

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