Monday, August 3, 2009

Marriage Equality USA Calls on Community to Open Hearts, Strengthen Ties and Forgive as Key to Future Campaign

Marriage Equality USA issued the following press release today. I can't agree with its statement more, as I and many in the community, are calling for unification as key before heading to the ballot. We have to trust each other, and in order to trust, we have to heal. Once that's accomplished, we can do anything.

San Francisco, California: "It is fitting that on this International Day of Forgiveness, Marriage Equality USA declares that the key to moving forward is not a timing issue as much as it is about forgiveness and coming together," said Molly McKay, Marriage Equality USA Media Director. "We just completed over 40 'Get Engaged' community gatherings across California. At these Get Engaged events, the most recent polling results were shared and community feedback was solicited on WHEN and HOW to launch a campaign to restore marriage equality. Though there was no clear consensus from the grassroots community on whether to go back to the ballot box in 2010 or 2012, what was clear is that many people are still trying to heal from the deep anger and sadness of having their civil rights stripped away by a mere majority of Californians, as well as a lingering sense of betrayal and disappointment both towards the people who voted 'Yes on Proposition 8' and the shortcomings of the No on 8 campaign that must be addressed before we can successfully move forward towards creating a new campaign." The Get Engaged Tour report can be found on Marriage Equality USA's website. (You can also download a PDF here.)

"In the words of esteemed Christian theologian and marriage equality supporter, Lewis Smedes, 'When we forgive, we set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner we set free is us,'" said McKay. "We must forgive and release the past in order to create a new future. We need to learn from past mistakes, but more importantly we must create and foster an environment of trust between our allied organizations. We need to release the blame for losing Proposition 8 so that we can be open to creating new relationships, new possibilities, a new campaign team with everyone – old and new- at the table. We will also need to get grounded in a space where we are ready to go out and engage with people who didn't 'get it' the first time, without anger or judgment, and with an open heart and compassion for their conflicted feelings on the issue of marriage equality. This is challenging work – but it is critical to any successful campaign – be it public education or ballot measure."

"Through our Get Engaged Tour gatherings, there was uniform agreement that our organizations and community must come together today and agree upon a campaign plan that addresses the lessons learned from the Prop 8 campaign and empowers local coalitions and communities to play a leading role in a future campaign," said Pamela Brown, Marriage Equality USA Policy Director. "As a national, all-volunteer, public education grassroots organization, Marriage Equality USA recognizes we do not have the resources to launch a ballot measure campaign. However, we are committed to ensuring that the grassroots community are full partners in any future campaign. We are further committed to creating a new coalition and leadership structure that is inclusive of the entire community of supporters of marriage equality and offers the opportunity for all supporters to bring their creativity and resources to help restore marriage equality in California and secure marriage equality throughout the country."

"To secure love, fairness, equality and justice in our community, we must embody those values in the way that we treat ourselves and others as we engage and grapple with how and when to restore marriage equality in California," said McKay. "Marriage Equality USA will continue to be a leader in supporting this respectful, collaborative decision making process. We will continue to expand the ever-growing statewide rolodex of organizations and leaders dedicated to marriage equality and help build infrastructure and provide resources to support this coalition statewide and at the regional level. We will continue to make every moment a marriage equality moment. There is no waiting, we all can start today to reach out and heal ourselves, heal our relationships and build bridges to the moveable middle and our future allies. We are all in this together and together we will prevail."


  1. Molly's words are eloquent and seeking unity in our community is a laudable goal on which we can all agree. To wait for an absolute consensus, however,is illusory and self-defeating. We will never all agree on everything. What we must strive for is that we discuss our differences in a mature and constructive fashion and that we learn to listen to each other rather than just talk past each other. In that vein, I like this quote by legendary U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright (D-Arkansas): "I think we Americans tend to put too high a price on unanimity, as if there were something dangerous and illegitimate about honest differences of opinion honestly expressed by honest [people]."

  2. Lester, given MEUSA's Get Engaged Tour results showed that the community was evenly split on when to return to the ballot, I would dare to say that Fulbright would stand by the principles of our country by suggesting that though a next step may not be unanimous, it should be based on a majority opinion. And from what I've seen, there isn't one.

    The Summit in San Bernardino can hardly be a litmus test for the community given that hardly anyone there was from northern California but mostly by people who lived nearby and in areas where Prop 8 passed. On top of that, the straw poll held literally at the last minute with people walking out the door can hardly be an indicator of "honest difference of opinion honestly expressed by honest [people]."

  3. Anonymous, what about the polls that Courage Campaign, EQCA, and MEUSA each did of their respective memberships, with every one resulting in an overwhelming majority show of support for 2010? I think there's more divison amongst the "leadership" than there is amongst the "rank and file".

  4. The Get Engaged results were heavily in favor of 2010. I have seen the actual numbers. So was San Bernardino and the online polls in which tens of thousand of members of EQCA, Courage, MEUSA and Honor PAC voted. Every time we have asked the community for its input the result has been the same. Those who wish to thwart this momentum, however, are like the guy who agrees to a coin toss, then says 2 out of 3, 3 out of 4! and so on until he gets the result he wants. Meanwhile, they are running out the clock so the decision is made by the calendar instead. Regardless, no one has the right to veto the desire of the grassroots community to get to work on repealing Prop 8. Not EQCA, not anyone.

  5. Leter, the Get Engaged Tour and all of the other meetings showed no such thing...the Community is pretty evenly divided between 2010 and 2012. There is, however, a HUGE cultural and generational gap between the large, established civil rights organizations (EQCA, Courage Campaign, MEUSA...etc) and the smaller, "bubble-up-from-the-bottom" grassroots organizations. Each thinks they can "win" without the other...this is a dangerous fallacy that will only bring the larger Community to ruin.

    We need to be united to move the old saying goes: "United We Stand, Divided We Fall"