The day after President was elected in November of 2008, most people were still celebrating our stunning victory (or crying into their Sarah Palin t-shirts). However, LGBT Californians woke up to the news that Proposition 8 had passed and our right to marry the person we love had been stripped from us once again. It was soul-crushing.
Almost immediately, the community began to examine how we could have lost and what more could have done to have kept it from happening. Fingers were pointed at the leadership, or rather lack thereof. Why had we mounted such a late and rather poorly coordinated effort against our opponents? It exposed a vulnerability that existed, and to a certain extent still exists, for our community. It is true that at the time, we had some very dedicated organizations fighting for us. The ACLU, GLAAD, SPLC, and MoveOn just to name a few.
However, when you compare the single-minded focus of our adversaries and their coordination efforts, no matter how underhanded, you have to admire the results-oriented campaign they mounted. While our groups were either arguing over tactics and long-range plans or not talking to each other at all, theirs were not only talking, but streamlining their effort as one united and powerful steamroller.
The Catholics, Mormons, and Evangelicals poured money and resources together into California, putting aside profound doctrinal differences for the "good" of a single purpose. It was a viciously coordinated attack and it worked.
For a while.
So here we stand today. Proposition 8 has been struck down, DOMA has been largely kicked to the curb, and State after State have legalized our unions. It is hard to keep up with the lawsuits being filed in States that still codify discrimination. An argument can still be made that we continue to have no core leadership shepherding these advances. While organizations like GLAAD fight strongly on our behalf, just take a read of their "About" statement:
GLAAD amplifies the voice of the LGBT community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality.The bolded text is mine and something I feel has been crucial to our movement.
We have advanced our equal rights cause without any clear leadership. Perhaps it is best that it happened this way. By the sheer force of numbers of people breaking open their closet doors to friends, family, neighbors and coworkers, our movement has been a collective effort, fought individual by individual though our own unique stories and in our own unique ways. Ours has been the very definition of a grassroots movement and it has been surprisingly effective.
Organizations like NOM and the American Family Association do not go to their audience with compelling and authentic stories to tell. They go to them with with fantastical horror stories, made out of whole cloth, about how the very fabric of their lives are threatened by our equality. It has been a lucrative venture for them in the process. However, every day, fewer and fewer ears are being swayed by their disingenuous message.
The lesson learned by me has been, that no matter how uncoordinated and difficult the process, our country still recognizes her core principles. Fairness prevails and oppression is anathema. Just by being ourselves, we are winning. It makes me very proud to be an American.