On November 7th, sometime before noon Pacific time, Willow Witte and I were emailing back and forth about Proposition 8. What came from those emails was JoinTheImpact.com and a blog post that called for national protests across the country in response to Proposition 8. Now, 6 months later, I have that same lump in my throat and the same feeling of anxiety, mixed with anger, mixed with sadness. Basically, it’s like getting side-swiped by a car. But there’s something that makes today far different than those days following the November 4th passage of Proposition 8. That difference is you.
On November 7th, Willow and I assumed we’d get maybe 4 cities involved in a protest of Prop 8. We figured that would be a huge accomplishment after just a week of notice. We assumed that we would have one high stress week and then go back to our local activism and wait with everyone else to see what happens next. But in that week, EVERYTHING changed. Within just a few days our servers crashed from the amount of traffic to this site. By November 10th the national protest became international with 10 other countries signing on. By November 12th we were discussing how to become a non-profit. By November 14th we were forming a board. And by November 15th, we stood in amazement as we realized that Prop 8 awoke a sleeping beast and we were lucky enough to be just one small piece of the extremely loud roar that this beast has continued to chant.
This sleeping beast is grassroots. This sleeping beast is netroots. It is flash activism in it’s purest form. This sleeping beast is every single one of you who came out on November 15th. And every single one of you who has come out time and time again. Those of you who organized for November 15th and continue to organize across this country. This sleeping beast is led by activists who have been fighting this fight since Stonewall and before. It is led by new activists as well; young people who can intuitively harness the tools of their generation and spread the message of equality far and wide in milliseconds. In this past 6 months, so many new organizations have sprung up, and so many seasoned organizations have lent a helping hand to ensure that we are all one family fighting for the same cause. In 6 months we have won marriage equality in 4 other states: Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa, and Maine with Domestic Partnership expansion laws passing in states like Washington. The Matthew Shepard Act passed in the house by a vote of 249 to 171. We have new rights in our grasps (rights that others in this country have always had without a second thought). We have an end to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell on the horizon, a stronger ENDA law, and the Matthew Sheppard Act sitting in the Senate. It is amazing what we have accomplished in 6 short months. And if they think that the movement for equality is going to stop now, then they are in for one gigantic surprise!
On November 15th, we asked everyone to unite as one. One loud voice across over 320 cities and 11 countries chiming in at the exact same moment in history to declare that OUR RIGHTS WILL NOT BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED! Now is the time for us to come together and STAY TOGETHER. We will no longer be pinned down by a national force fighting a local force. We showed the world that Prop 8 is not California’s problem, it is the NATION’s problem. It is time to fight inequality on all 50 fronts. We ALL need to come together and take the conversation of equality to the next level. It is time everyone in this country learns about the harms caused when all families do not receive equal protections under the law. We need to infiltrate the masses by going to the areas of our country, our states, and our cities that do not understand us. We need to educate those we meet about who we are and what our families mean to us. And most importantly, we must end hate by showing the world that we are fighting for love. We will not back down until our families receive full equality under the law!
Infiltrate. Educate. End Hate.
But how do we do this? What is next for us? Well that is up to you. We are all united in this struggle. This struggle has roots far deeper than marriage equality. We must fight for all of our rights. We must recognize that our fight is no different than the injustices other minority groups receive and we must join with them in our journey. We must come together as a family – one large family of people who support each other, protect each other, and fight for each other. If there is an issue in Idaho, we must all lend our support. If there is an issue in Manhattan, we must all lend our voices to the roar. If we can all work together, for the greater good of this movement, then VICTORY IS NEXT FOR US.
What is next for you? What can you do? Get in touch with your local LGBTQ organization and pledge a minimum of 5 hours per month to help them. If EVERYONE who reads this blog volunteers 5 hours per month to this movement then we will have over 1 million hours per month of new volunteers across the nation! Pledge your time. Get on the phones and phone bank. Grab a friend and go door to door to educate your neighbors. Go into the towns that would vote for a Prop 8 in your state and hold a teach in. If the past 6 months has shown us anything it’s that just one voice can change everything. Work with organizations like the Courage Campaign, Marriage Equality USA, Join the Impact, the HRC, the NGLTF, One Struggle One Fight, and on and on. EVERYONE has something that they need help on. Grassroots orgs in California already have taken the next steps to repeal Prop 8 through a ballot initiative. Volunteer your time to help. In Washington, a group is trying to repeal the latest Domestic Partnership expansion bill through the ballot. Even if you’re on the other side of the country, there is still something you can do to help. In government, the Matthew Sheppard Act is sitting in the Senate. Call your senator and urge them to pass it. We need to continue all the hard work that so many amazing organizers have been doing over the past 6 months, but we all need YOUR help. 5 hours is all I’m asking. Find an organization that you love and ask them how you can help. Stop another Prop 8 before it happens.
My friend Jonathan Bruns is preparing his speech for tonight’s Day of Decision event in Seattle. He ran by a very small portion of it with me and I asked him if I could steal it for my closing of this blog post. Simply and eloquently put he said: We must not focus on this defeat, instead, we must now focus on our future victory!