I did very little conventional work on the California No on 8 campaign last year. It was partly that I was in New Jersey for most of the campaign season and so it was difficult to do any volunteer work that involved a physical presence, but I was also, I must confess, lazy and complacent. I didn’t think it was worth donating to the campaign, I thought Prop. 8 would probably fail, and I also didn’t (and still don’t) believe marriage to be the most important LGBT issue worth fighting for. But when Prop. 8 passed, I felt pretty damn guilty. There’s no question I should have done more, that outreach to my Facebook friends wasn’t enough. The one-on-one conversations are a great tactic (if you haven’t talked to your friends and family about LGBT rights, get the hell on that!), but they still need to be coupled with traditional methods of political action for political campaigns to succeed.
And so I won’t be making that mistake again. I’ve decided to make a small donation—what I can afford—to the Maine No on 1 campaign, which is in a similar position to that of California’s No on 8 a year ago. I doubt that what I can afford to give will make a great deal of difference to what Stand for Marriage Maine is able to achieve, but it’s a symbolic gesture, and a wedge I can use when I encourage other people to take action, to volunteer or to donate what time or money they have.
But I also don’t want to get too sidetracked by distant battles: in New Jersey sometime between November (the gubernatorial election) and January (when the winner will be sworn in), marriage equality is going to come to a vote in the state legislature. Gov. Corzine has said that he will sign a bill—now the legislature needs to pass it. And you can bet I’ll be calling and writing my representatives; you can bet I’ll be doing what I can from my position on campus to support getting that vote through the legislature—and if it involves fighting NOM, so much the better! I know we can win.
I still have a lot of regret that marriage became the flashpoint issue for LGBT equality in this country, and that the culture war battle has come to center on assimilation, not something more radical. If there was going to be a fight anyway, I wish my predecessors had decided to go for broke. But they didn’t, and we have these state-by-state marriage battles now. That means we’ve got to work with what we’ve got. We’ve got to engage this issue head-on. We’ve got to use marriage as a jumping-off point to teach acceptance of all people, all relationships, all families, all children, all kinds of love. We’ve got to take advantage of this conversation, and from there move on to safe schools, hate crimes, employment discrimination, tax code, immigration, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and oh my god so many other things. When we let measures like Prop. 8 or Maine’s Measure 1 pass, we’re robbing ourselves of the ability to control those conversations about everything else. Even if some of us are not so crazy about the whole marriage thing, it’s a symbol to a large percentage of this country of something very meaningful. And if it will help get things done, I’m okay with rolling with that.
I’m so totally primed for battle. Let’s do this shit.