Thursday, July 30, 2009

California Marriage equality: 2010 or 2012 is not the question

I'm back in Los Angeles today after two days in Sacramento meeting with Unitarian Universalist leaders in the marriage equality movement. We're forming a steering committee to work with the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry on this topic.

On Tuesday we met with Samuel Chu, the interim executive director of California Faith for Equality, and with Harry Knox, who heads the faith-based program for the Human Rights Campaign. On Wednesday, just the Unitarian Universalist leaders met to create an action plan for our congregations. It was very clear from our conversation very early on that the question of whether marriage equality activists should place a constitutional amendment on the California ballot to restore marriage equality in 2010, or 2012 is the wrong question. In practical terms the answer is clear: we're not ready. But 2010 or 2012 isn't really the question.

2010 or 2012 focuses entirely on the ballot, which is only a piece of the necessary work. The larger goal is not 51% of the electorate relunctantly granting us marriage, the goal is a cultural shift that sees gay and lesbian persons as full respected citizens of the state. That goal is not achieved legislatively. It's achieved through public education and advocacy, through relationship building, and through normalizing gay and lesbian lives through visibility and time.

The other false frame of the 2010 or 2012 question is the implication that unless we act now we are agreeing to submit to injustice. But public education and advocacy and relationship building and living our lives openly and proudly is justice work. It's not waiting; it's working. And it's not submitting; it's persuading folks who have already voted against once not to confirm their vote but to change their minds and hearts.

That's the work we need to do in our churches and communities, not raising money for signature gathering and ads, and phone-banking. Rather than leaping unprepared into a political campaign as a reaction to our hurt and anger, let's time the political campaign to the point in the movement when we've already won the issue before the campaign even begins.


Bill Baar said...

Why not take a Libertarian tack instead and advocate taking the State out of the Marriage licensing business?

You'll find more support for that and the arguments against will be about allocating benefits to couples. And why in the world should the welfare state and insurance business revolve around couples?

Robin Edgar said...

You might like this Irish marriage equality campaign ad on YouTube video Rick. The "punchline" is at the end of course. . .

Donald S. said...

I think that there is more here we are considering. There is currently a movement to amend the California state constitution to reform the budget process to eliminate the requirement to have a 2/3 vote to raise taxes. It is absolutely necessary to change this. The poor and disadvantaged suffer mightily because of this. However, a constitutional convention in California would open up other issues: such as simple majority to amend the constitution that allowed Prop 8 to pass. The constitution should be corrected; however, if the state constituion is amended before Prop 8 is rescinded, it would mean that we would require a 2/3 vote to repeal prop 8, A measure that we might never hope to meet.
We cannot in good conscience oppose the move to amend the constitution. Too much good to too people would come from that. We cannot oppose it on the basis of gay marriage. Therefore, we must work as quickly as possible to overturn Prop 8.