Earlier today I participated in a conference call with organizers of “The National Equality March” and a handful of gay bloggers (with a seeming superabundance from one particular blog). Skeptical about the necessity of such a gathering, I listened in primarily to hear the rally’s representatives make a case for their gathering.
And while I did not come away convinced of its necessity, I did come away impressed by their tone. My skepticism grows out of the apparent diffusion of their goals. They lack a big-picture strategy, unclear what they wanted to do after the march.
This idea for this event grew out of the unrest in gay communities that followed the passage of Proposition 8. Robin McGehee, one of the organizers on the call, had been kicked off her PTA by a pastor because of her activism against that successful California ballot measure (enshrining the traditional definition of marriage in the Golden State’s constitution).
She and the other organizers were at pains to point out that this was not run by a national organization and was truly a grassroots effort. Kip Williams, Director of Equality Across America, the group coordinating the march, says they hope to model a movement on the “Camp Obama method of organization,” using “personal stories as organizing tools.” Another representative (I believe it was McGehee) said they seek”to support and serve people who want to do grassroots community organizing at the local level.”
They hope to set up committees in each of the 435 congressional districts.
Still, absent specific goals, I doubt they’ll be very effective. One caller broached an issue I had intended to bring up, focusing on repealing the ban on gays serving openly in the military. With polls showing a majority of Americans supporting repeal (even a majority of conservatives), moving this issue to the fore could help improve the image of gays and lesbians, showing us as ready to serve and sacrifice for our country and for our freedom.
Since another blogger had addressed that issue, I asked about the organizers’ definition of their goal (repeated several times in the call) as “equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all fifty states.” While the expression may be clunkier than the word, “equality,” I prefer its specificity. Moreover, it lacks the socialist connotations of that word (in contemporary political discourse).
Finally, I appreciated the tone of the organizers. Unlike all too many gay activists in the wake of the passage of Proposition 8, they did not dwell on their enemies, lashing out at social conservatives in general and Mormons and Republicans in particular. They refrained from using the words, “hate” and “lies,” to describe the opposition. They did not demonize. They merely made the case for the rally as they described some of the events that would be taking place in Washington next month.
Whether those events will serve to effect any real change in the gay movement, or in our political discourse, is anybody’s guess. But, these guys do have a better attitude and approach than do (most of) the leaders of the mainstream gay organization. So, I wish them well.