Sunday, March 15, 2009

Courage Campaign Announces Sponsorship of "Meet in the Middle for Equality"

Anticipating Supreme Court Ruling on Prop 8, Grassroots Activists Plan Kick-off of New Marriage Equality Movement in Fresno

LOS ANGELES - The Courage Campaign announced today its official sponsorship of the Fresno-based "Meet in the Middle for Equality" -- a day of dignity planned for the first Saturday after the California State Supreme Court rules on the legal challenges to Proposition 8, regardless of the outcome. The goal of Meet in the Middle for Equality is to support the communities of "middle-America" in the struggle for marriage equality.

"No matter how the Court rules, the fight for marriage equality will be won or lost in places like the Central Valley," said Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of the Courage Campaign, a California-focused online organizing network with more than 700,000 members. "It's simple math, if we want to win marriage equality at the ballot box, we have to organize in each region of California equally."

On March 5, the state's highest court heard oral arguments on three lawsuits challenging Proposition 8. Within 90 days, the court will issue its ruling on whether Prop 8 was enacted improperly as a constitutional revision to revoke the right of same-sex couples to marry. The court also will determine if 18,000 same-sex marriages conducted between June and November of 2008 will remain valid.

"We are Californians living, working, loving and raising families in Central California," said Robin McGehee, a resident of Fresno and the founder of Meet in the Middle for Equality. "Our purpose for the event is to unite all equality-loving people in California on one day to celebrate the dignity and value of every human being."

According to the Secretary of State's breakdown of the 2008 general election vote by county, Proposition 8 was defeated in San Francisco by a 3 to 1 margin. However, voters in Fresno County and the rest of the Central Valley approved the measure by nearly the same 3 to 1 margin.

"Communities like Fresno are more reflective of national attitudes toward gay and lesbian issues," added McGehee, noting the differences between progressive communities on California's coast and the conservatives of the Central Valley. "Until we put down roots in the Valley and learn to engage the people of our own hometowns, we will not gain full equality."

This past weekend, the Courage Campaign held the second in a series of skills-building training institutes called "Camp Courage" in Fresno. The training gives grassroots activists the practical, hands-on skills to organize in their communities to restore marriage equality for same-sex couples, should the court fail to overturn Prop 8. "Camp Courage" is a major step toward repealing Proposition 8 and building a permanent progressive majority in California.

"Events like Meet in the Middle and Camp Courage are designed to bring communities together through grassroots organizing and one-on-one conversations," continued Jacobs.

More information about Meet in the Middle for Equality can found at:

More information about Camp Courage, including video, pictures and news coverage of the event, can be found at:

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