Thursday, July 23, 2009

California marriage equality can't wait.

I've been reading reports from a number of political analysts this week discussing whether marriage equality proponents in California should put the question back to voters in 2010, or wait until 2012. All of them agree that we should wait. I've been reading in preparation for a meeting I've been asked to attend with political strategists next week, and then a follow-up meeting with my own faith leaders to plan a coordinated action plan for our churches.

Because the proposition this time around would be "our" proposition, we can set the timing - we don't have to react to a proposition presented by the other side. Waiting allows us to raise more money, to educate the electorate, to finely craft our message, to build the organizational structure we need for the campaign, and, (every analyst mentions it) to allow more older voters to die and be replaced by younger, "what's the big deal?" voters.

In fact, that last issue may be the only real argument for waiting, because waiting also gives the other side more time to raise money, and craft their message and build their organization, and so on; it's not like we're going to catch them by surprise.

But if our real strength is in generational turnover, rather than education or organization or what have you, then there's also not much reason to wait. Older voters will continue to die off whether we fight and lose in 2010, or don't fight at all. So we haven't hurt our chances in 2012, and we might win.

And in my position as a faith leader, not a political operative, the question is clear. Justice deferred is justice denied. Californians are dying every day never having had the benefit of having their relationship recognized by the state they live in and pay taxes in. Gay kids are spending their formative years with the message that they are second class citizens. GLBT persons are being violently attacked by folks encouraged in their hate by a government that doesn't see us as real people. A political campaign, even a losing one, serves to illustrate that injustice and the real damage done to real human lives. It's not my role as a person of faith or an activist to say, "wait until later."

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