Thursday, May 7, 2009

Equality California Joins Grassroots in Fight for Marriage Equality

Equality California (EQCA) announced yesterday its new campaign Win Marriage Back. Make It Real!, their first public step in joining the grassroots in laying the groundwork for a new campaign to repeal Prop 8 if the California Supreme Court rules to uphold it.

Just this past weekend, the Courage Campaign announced its support for a 2010 initiative, and now with the EQCA joining in on the call, these two organizations among many other grassroots groups have given a solid signal to California that marriage equality will beckoning the state once again. And soon.

On a phone call with donors today, EQCA's new Marriage Director Marc Solomon and Executive Director Geoff Kors said their new campaign push will be two-fold. First, joining in the grassroots efforts in community organizing, and second, telling the stories of LGBT families who were adversely affected by Prop 8, the lack of which was a major criticism of the No on 8 campaign in which EQCA was major player.

The first point will be met by hiring 25 field organizers in all parts of the state to reach out to their communities and neighborhoods. In the call, a reference was made to Courage Campaign's amazing Camp Courage, a two-day training event designed to teach the principals and skills of community organizing to activists working to restore marriage equality in California. Courage Campaign has invested over a $100,000 in these camps, raised by on-line matching grant donations from the Dolby Family among others.

EQCA will be relying heavily on the hundreds of camp graduates. The camps have so far been held in Los Angeles, Fresno, San Diego, Oakland and coming up soon in Sacramento and East LA, all areas that EQCA plans to do outreach.

Graduates of the camps have set up successful Equality Teams throughout the state that engage the electorate in phonebanking, canvassing and more, with voter information provided to them through the Courage Campaign's Equality Hub. This giving away of information has been hailed as unprecedented because it gives anyone who wants to make a difference for equality in their own area the chance to succeed.

EQCA plans to contribute to the canvassing efforts starting this weekend with a goal of reaching 45,000 doors in 100 days. With the resulting information that is gathered, it will be used alongside other grassroots organizations, such as canvassing experts Marriage Equality USA, to build a stronger campaign.

The second point of the new push are two new tv ads that feature LGBT families. Having heard the sharp criticisms of the No on 8 campaign's refusal to show the faces of the LGBT population and its variety, and seeing how successful the Courage Campaign's record-breaking video, "Fidelity, Don't Divorce Us" has been, EQCA will be releasing their own ads on TV this weekend.

See the second ad here.

EQCA working alongside grassroots is a remarkable change since the No on 8 campaign during which the grassroots felt shut out. The failure of the campaign woke a sleeping giant throughout the nation, but particularly in California, displayed prominently in the massive rallies and protests that followed.

Even more remarkable is that EQCA, along with Courage Campaign, Marriage Equality USA, FAIR, Equal Roots and more, have all chipped in together on the costs of polling, and with the resulting information, all groups will be armed to work together on the new initiative campaign if needed.

Since the November election, the grassroots has grown stronger and more organized, its full force to be seen on the Saturday following the Supreme Court's ruling on Prop 8. Win or lose, thousands will Meet in the Middle in Fresno, CA, the heart of Yes on 8 territory, not only to show numbers, but to stand in solidarity for equality for all.

Just recently, academy award winning actress Charlize Theron issued a letter through the Courage Campaign, urging everyone, especially straight allies, to show support by meeting in Fresno.

EQCA has taken its cue from such organizing. Despite some growing pains in working alongside the grassroots, they will be showing their support by appearing at Meet in the Middle, an event that is sure to launch either a statewide effort to repeal Prop 8 if its upheld, or a nationwide movement for LGBT equality if Prop 8 is thrown out.

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