Monday, August 10, 2009

VIDEO: Next Steps Working Meeting Creates 'Coalition for Marriage Equality'; Decides on San Francisco Convention to Determine Next Campaign Structure

UPDATE 2: Karen Ocamb's, "Steve Hildebrand's Mission to Sell 2010."

UPDATE: With Unite the Fight's focus on streaming, it was difficult to get one-on-one interviews. Thankfully, the amazing reporter Karen Ocamb was there to cover the event. Read her piece, "Will the Repeal Prop 8 Campaign Look Like No on 8 After All?"

On Sunday, the Next Steps Working Meeting took place at the historic Jewel's Catch One in Los Angeles, CA with a relatively full turn out. The overall agenda of the meeting, which amazingly was stuck to with precision, was to adjourn with actionable next steps to give to the community in order to begin the campaign to bring marriage equality back to California.

People from many parts of the state showed, including San Diego, Central Valley, Sacramento and San Francisco. Groups such as SAME, S.A.F.E, Marriage Equality USA, Courage Campaign, One Struggle One Fight, Stonewall Democrats, RENEWL and more were in attendance. (See participating groups.)

Unite the Fight attended to provide live streaming to those orchestrated in advance by the organizers to host viewings in Davis, Central Valley and San Diego. After some technical issues in the beginning with UStream and picking up a Spanish radio station on our microphones (yes, it was an interesting audio combo), we resolved the issues and only missed about 15 minutes of the beginning. The video is more pixelated than past streams due to low internet connection.

The meeting opened with Robert Grocholski, Vice President of PCI Consultants, Inc. speaking on signature gathering. Due to tech issues, lots of his portion was lost, but our video below is a one-on-one interview with him which covers his speech.

Lisa Powell of Camp Courage then spoke followed by a Q&A. The video below captures this moment, including some of the tensions that arose by the lack of POC organizations and their involvement at the meeting. Unfortunately, this is where we had some audio issues, but this is fixed around the 8:00 mark.

Next, everyone dispersed into breakout sessions. As promised by the organizers, this wasn't going to be a "talking heads" meeting, but a time to come up with actionable plans. (The agenda lists the different breakout groups.)

The video below follows the breakout group which brainstormed "Partnering with Non-LGBT People and Organizations in the Signature Campaign," which was facilitated by straight ally Jane Wishon and Chuck Stemke. The mobile microphone kicks in with better audio at 2:30.

Following the breakout sessions, the groups came back to the main room and recapped the action points. Due to some sensitive information surrounding ballot language, UTF has been asked not to post this particular recap. However, it was great to see that Jenny Pizer of Lambda Legal was the expert of the breakout group discussing ballot language. However, Karen Ocamb reports, "The group consensus reached out of morning workshops was that there should be no religious or education exception in the initiative."

After the recap, Rick Jacobs, founder of Courage Campaign, spoke on the necessity of returning to the ballot in 2010 and then introduced Steve Hildebrand, who was Obama's Deputy National Campaign Manager. (The video of Jacobs is on the same one as the recaps, and unfortunately, cannot post.)

Steve Hildebrand speaks followed by Q&A. In his speech, Steve tells the attendees that they must demand of their leaders that they hammer out a campaign governing structure this week.

A second breakout followed Steve and the topic of the campaign governing structure came up and how it should be addressed.

UStream again at this point decided to crash, so the "Outreach to POC Communities During the Signature Campaign" session that we followed was unfortunately not recorded.

After the sessions concluded, everyone came back to the main hall again and gave a recap of the decisions made in their groups.

2010 IT IS

Many discussions were had, many points raised and action points created for those who attended and the communities they represent. Though the issue of 2010 vs. 2012 was brought up and the sense that this group wants to continue to work with those who favor 2012, it was decidedly firm among those who attended that the goal was to go back to the ballot in 2010.


The key next step that developed from the meeting was the decision to have a convention of delegates from different organizations statewide to come together and hammer out a campaign governing structure. The convention will take place August 22nd and will be hosted in San Francisco. Since I was not in that working group, I don't have all the information at this point about who was designated to organize the convention, but as soon as I know, I will post.

It was determined that one delegate from each organization can attend, and that an organization is defined by a group with ten or more members. Large statewide organizations, such as Marriage Equality USA and EQCA, can have a delegate per chapter.

The resulting governing structure would then be able to put into full coordinated action the ideas and strategy developed during the Next Steps Working Meeting.

It was reiterated that in order for the California LGBT population to move forward for 2010, that trust in the organizations involved must return and that working relationships with our elected officials and allies need to be cultivated.


At the end of the meeting, it was declared that the participating organizations and individuals at the Next Steps Working Meeting, and those who want to join, will now be referred to as the Coalition for Marriage Equality.

"We're the beginning of the campaign, right here," declared Jordan Krueger of Equality Network, the lead on logistics for the meeting.

With rumblings that Equality California will be announcing this week its official position on when to return to the ballot (and sources tell me it's looking like 2012 with the organization throwing its resources behind the Maine battle until then), it will be interesting to see how this new coalition continues to move forward.

To keep everyone communicating, a Google group for the Coalition for Marriage Equality will be created by the coordinators of the meeting. I will be posting soon how you can join.


  1. Thank you very much for posting this. This is the most encouraging news out of California that I have heard in months.

  2. It is too bad that the session on Inreach to POC Communities did not get recorded. There was a spirited discussion among Robert Olivares of E-LA, Derrick Mathis, of RENWL, Jose Medina of SAME, Teresa Wang of Roots of Equality, Mile Ai of Equal Roots, and yours truly from the Latino Equality Alliance, among others. It was facilitated by Arisha Michelle Hatch and Hope Wood of the Courage Campaign. More details on the action items soon. All of the action groups will continue to communicate and work together going forward.

  3. I agree, Lester. We had them move that specific breakout session to the front of the room so we could record it. You can imagine how we felt when UStream crashed on us. :(

  4. The subject of race and the LGBT community was by far the most intense area of conversation throughout the event and not just in the POC breakout group. We cannot get through this next initiative process by continuing to not acknowledge this issue with the attention it truly deserves. A huge Latino contingent of grassroots organizations refused to attend the meeting among other issues. Race issues are at the forefront of the gay community's ills whether we choose to acknowledge this or not. If we keep glossing over this uncomfortable but necessary conversation within our community it may very well cost us our next attempt at marriage equality.

  5. If Latino groups refused to attend, then that's their loss. You can't refuse to attend a meeting, then cry that you're not being included in the movement.

    BTW, the latino gentleman who stood up at the very beginning of the meeting made it sound like they weren't invited, which is ridiculous and misleading.

    If any group wants to be acknowledged in this process, they have to participate. How can we have the discussion if the subjects of the discussion won't participate?

  6. These things happen Phillip. You guys did an amazing job as usual. I don't agree that there is a "huge" group of Latinos who are refusing to engage the rest of the community. There are some self-declared leaders in the Latino community who chose not to come yesterday, refused to come to the Get Engaged Town Hall meeting last month and do not attend coalition meetings with OUT West. It is important that we continue to try to include them but we can not force them to come. There were plenty of Latinos at the meeting yesterday. I know sometimes we are not easy to identify as we Latinos come in every color and shape. But we were in the house. And the hundreds of volunteers who helped out in East L.A. last year do not have a group affiliation. When it comes time to gather signatures, I am sure they will be there.

  7. The organizational infrastructure that supports queer youth, the trans community, the HIV/AIDS community, the homeless – those most in need – is crumbling due to budget cuts. At the same time some in our community are focused solely on the issue of marriage equality. I believe it to be our moral imperative to construct a movement that simultaneously advocates for equality while working to rebuild our infrastructure to address the concerns of those most in need. The question at the top of my mind is, "can we sustain our infrastructure and build strong long-lasting, cross-movement coalitions by 2010?". My inclination is no.

    Mark Snyder