Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shame on the LDS Church!

Thanks to the amazing Queers United, I was made aware of the Shame on the LDS Church! website.

Instead of repeating what Queers United has already summed up, I'll simply direct you to their post listing the many actions that Shame on the LDS Church! is supporting.

Be sure to visit Shame on the LDS Church! as well for more direct action!

The Effects of Camp Courage

The effects of Camp Courage are still being felt four days after the event. Many of the attendees are still talking about how great it was, and many others wishing that they had been able to attend. (By the way, there will be more. Fresno is confirmed for February 28/March 1st Stay tuned!)

According to the organization, 221 participants showed up to the inaugural event. It's exciting to hear them say that they're building "a grassroots army." You can see more footage, pictures, media coverage and more of Cleve Jones here.

I have heard a lot of criticism pointed at the grassroots organizations since the passing of Proposition 8 for being divisive, unable to cooperate with established leaders (or even amongst themselves, for that matter), and being completely unruly and unwilling to work with others, especially said leaders, and build much needed coalitions.

Having attended the Equality Summit, I could easily see where these criticisms came from. The Summit was full of tension, filled with irate people angry with the leadership of the failed No on 8 campaign. The grassroots doesn't trust the leaders of the No on 8 campaign, leaders who have been around probably a bit too long (being out of touch with those they represent is not an unusual circumstance leaders find themselves in when they've worn out their welcome), and that couldn't have been more evident at the event. (Though I do commend Geoff Kors for attending Camp Courage the following day.)

I myself have been irate but not with just the leaders. I have also been impatient with the grassroots for not getting it together by now, for not doing more direct action and doing the hard work of forging more powerful coalitions, which demands putting aside egos, something many of us have a hard time doing - to a fault.

However, the day following the Summit, at Camp Courage, it was remarkable, even amazing, how different the feel and tone was from so many of the same people that attended the Summit. It was palpable. The positivity electric. Many of times I have grown so discouraged with ourselves I wanted to quit, but everyone changed my perspective that day. It showed we can work together. It showed we can put aside our egos. It showed that we are able to get things done and act. But more importantly, it showed we have exactly what we need to win all of our rights.

It was exactly the remedy we needed.

I just hope we keep taking our medicine.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

UPDATE & ACTION: Prayers for Bobby on Lifetime

UPDATE: Lifetime now has the whole movie, "Prayers for Bobby," on their website that you can watch for free.

ACTION: Equality Network, who hosted the screening in West Hollywood last night, is asking to show your support for "Prayers for Bobby" by calling Lifetime and asking them to keep airing "Prayers for Bobby" and get it released on DVD. Lifetime: (310) 556-7500

"Prayers for Bobby," an original movie from Lifetime, starring Academy Award nominee Sigourney Weaver, will be airing tonight, Tuesday the 27th, 9pm ET/PT.

The network describes the picture as an "emotional true story about a 1970s religious suburban housewife and mother who struggles to accept her young son Bobby being gay. What happens to Bobby is tragic and causes Mary to question her faith; ultimately this mom changes her views in ways that she never could have imagined."

If you are unable to catch the movie tonight, you can view it on YouTube.

Equality Network is holding a viewing party of the movie tonight:

For more information, go to the Facebook Event Page.

Christian Anti-Defamation Commission Targets Homosexuals

The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission is targeting homosexuals amongst others in their "Top Ten Christian Bashings in America, 2008."

There's a lot that could be said in response to this egregious list, but Robert Tisinai sums it up beautifully in this video response:

NOTE: Robert acknowledged to me that unfortunately, he got the name of the organization wrong. However, it is in fact the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Marriage Equality USA's Equality Summit Presentation

Many people, both those who attended the Equality Summit and those who didn't, have asked to see the roof-raising report that Molly McKay and Pamela Brown of Marriage Equality USA presented at the meeting, which was greeted with a standing ovation.

Thanks to Pamela Brown, I now have a copy for you to view. I wish I could equally portray the fervor and passion that Pamela and Molly gave to the presentation, but if you get a chance to see them speak again, I'd advise you not to miss it.

NOTE: Appears the host for the document is having issues. It does lead you to a download link. You can find the presentation there.

Cleve Jones at the Camp Courage Kick Off Reception

Thanks to Cathy Brooks of Other Than That

Monday, January 26, 2009

Unite the Fight's Camp Courage Op-Ed

Of the countless meetings I've attended after the election, focusing either on the postmortem of the No on 8 Campaign (including Saturday's Equality Summit), brainstorming strategy, figuring out how to build coalitions, planning events and actions, and trying to determine next steps for the movement, I have not been to one meeting that was as effective, inclusive, practical and educational as the Courage Campaign's Camp Courage.

Held in West Hollywood and knowing that it was going to last from 8:30am-5:30pm, I thought spending my whole Sunday at the event made the whole thing seem daunting. And I was skeptical. After feeling let down after so many attempts to do what the Courage Campaign was attempting, I was prepared to get bored, lose interest in the speakers and eventually tune out altogether. But amazingly, they held my attention the whole time, and I learned a lot. Borrowing the mantra, "Respect - Empower - Include" from the Obama campaign, Camp Courage succeeded in doing just that.

(Due to my having to write the Equality Summit report, I missed the kick off reception the night before, where many told me Cleve Jones gave a riveting speech. Unfortunately, I can't report the details, but if any of you were able to make it, please write me and tell me about it, and I'll post it. Also, I hear there is video of this - please let me know when it is up!)

Camp Courage kicked off strong with Courage Campaign founder Rick Jacobs telling the attendees that California is a "state that is tarnished" with discrimination. Indirectly referring to the Equality Summit and its panel of leaders who populated the stage throughout the whole event, he pointed to the empty stage behind him and said, "There are not a lot of people on this stage. You're the stage!" And that's how the rest of the day went.

Lisa Powell, lead facilitator who had worked with the Obama campaign, did a great job in leading the overbooked event, involving the crowd divided into predetermined groups with active sessions which lasted throughout the day and included:
  • Story of Self: finding your voice as an activist. After hearing examples from people telling their stories as to why they're fighting to repeal Prop 8, Lisa broke down the storytelling technique, handed out a worksheet so that each person can shape their own story, and then each participant told their tale to their own group. Learning how to tell your own story is extremely effective in getting others involved in the movement, or opening the eyes of the opponents to the harm of Prop 8. After the sessions amongst the groups, a few were picked to share their story to the whole crowd. Many heart-wrenching tales were given, the unearthing of the motivation driving these activists.
  • Story of Us: the amazing Mike Bonin lead this session about building the movement, one leader at a time.
  • Voter Persuasion: how to talk to the others in one-on-one encounters. Led by Liz Moore of the SEIU, this was an extremely educational and effective session. After an improvised moment between Lisa Powell and Jenny Pizer, portraying a peaceful interaction between neighbors who voted differently on Prop 8, the groups were given worksheets with various scenarios that they had to improvise amongst themselves. Given tools in how to communicate with the opposition, many learned the power of proper persuasion without making those you disagree with uncomfortable or under attack. The emphasis of persuasion was on baby steps - you can't change someone's mind with one conversation.
  • Online Tech Tools: this session, led by Julia Rosen, Online Political Director for the Courage Campaign, debuted the organization's online, grassroots tool, Equality Hub, which allows individuals and grassroots organizations to effectively plan events, socialize and organize. It also includes a voter phone banking tool that allows the individual to make phone calls from their own homes, similar to the Obama Campaign site. Definitely worth checking out.
  • Into Action: this session broke out into groups that contained practical education on door-to-door canvassing, phone banking, tabling, organizing a political house party and online organizing (which went into further detail about the Equality Hub, but also networking and education about online tools that are effective for planning events and keeping your organization's members or participants active and updated).
  • Our Commitment to the Cause: Lisa Powell talked about the organization's commitment, to the movement, but as well as the activists, and referred to the Courage Campaign's project "Please don't divorce us . . . "
Inserted throughout the sessions were touching (and amazingly concise) speeches from married couple Jenny Pizer of Lamda Legal and Doreena Wong, who, speaking on the legal and political context of marriage equality, spoke about their years in activism and told the story that after 24 years together, Doreena's mother felt that Jenny was finally officially a part of the family after marrying her daughter; Torie Osborn spoke on organizing and movement building, focusing on respectful interaction with the opposition and learning how to actively listen; and Mike Bonin, telling his story of self, confessed that after working extremely long hours on the Obama campaign, and feeling ashamed that he didn't do enough for the No on 8 campaign, promised he will never allow himself to put an LGBT initiative "on the back burner."

With so much material covered in a relatively small amount of time, it's a marvel that it was all accomplished, and miraculously, on time and on schedule! These Obama-turned-LGBT and equality campaigners know how to lead a large meeting, communicate and educate, but above all, inspire. Led by multi-generational activists, some new and some experienced, Camp Courage offers something for everyone of all ages and backgrounds. Either this is all new to you and you learn the essential basics, or it's a refresher on old skills, you don't leave empty handed.

The Courage Campaign plans to hold many more Camp Courage sessions around the state. They are asking us to vote on where some of them will be. I recommend you do, find one near you (Fresno is already confirmed and they intend to schedule more in San Luis Obsispo, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco) and GO. In order for this movement to propel forward and succeed, we must be educated, we must know how to work together, we must be on the same page, and we must remain inspired. Camp Courage is the step in the right direction. Do not miss out. GO.

Shout of thanks to Waiyde Palmer for the pictures.

Lead Facilitator Lisa Powell and Jenny Pizer.

The legendary, first openly out Queer elected to the California Assembly, Shelia James Kuehl, watches from the back as it all goes down.

Rick Jacobs, founder of the Courage Campaign.

UPDATE: Op-Ed: Prop 8 - Ours to Lose? Nope.

UPDATE: Matt Foreman's Op-Ed has caused quite a stir. This is always good because it forces people to see the campaign from a different perspective, possibly learning something along the way. But it's also caused sharp criticism of Matt's argument. Terry Leftgoff, whose original review of the campaign motivated Matt's breakdown, is working on a counter response. Stay tuned.

Matt Foreman program director of The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, has written an op-ed piece on the No on 8 Campaign. Instead of focusing on where it went wrong, he focuses on the near insurmountable obstacles of changing views on marriage in 90 days. (This is an indirect response to Terry Leftgoff's evaluation of the No on 8 campaign.

California's Proposition 8--Ours to Lose? Nope. It was always an Uphill Climb.

A lot of people have been saying that Prop 8 was our side's to lose and that missteps by the No on 8 Campaign snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Those analyses ignore hard core obstacles and fundamentals underlying the contest, including how hard it is to hold and move opinions on marriage in the narrow confines of a campaign.

I need to start by saying that I had nothing to do with the No on 8 Campaign. Because the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, where I work, has been so deeply involved in public education work in support of marriage equality, the law literally precluded any contact or coordination with the electoral campaign. So, as a purely armchair quarterback it's pretty easy for me to catalogue things I -- in my infinite wisdom -- would have done differently. But I also know that even if everything -- every single thing -- had gone our way, it still would have been incredibly hard to win by anything more than a tiny margin. Here's why.

Putting Minority Rights Up to a Popular Vote: the Difficulty of Winning

First off, it's nearly impossible for minorities to win or defend their rights at the ballot box. Californians have demonstrated that time and again, voting to outlaw affirmative action, to deny grade school education and non-emergency medical care to undocumented children, and to specifically permit race discrimination in housing. This profound disadvantage was exacerbated by the fact that marriage is in a class by itself as an issue. Everyone has an intimate, personal relationship with marriage and has an opinion -- usually visceral -- about it. True, over time people are moving toward marriage -- we've quite amazingly gained about one point per year since 2000. But within the narrow time constraints of a campaign -- under 90 days -- it is pure fancy to think there's a "movable middle" on marriage. At best there was movable sliver.

More on that in a bit.

Our Opponents' Base -- Huge, Solid, Energized

Second, the other side had a huge, largely unmovable, energized base. We didn't. No surprise but they had older people all sewn up. While we won among all voters under 65, more than two-thirds (67%) of voters 65 or older voted for Prop 8. That alone -- yes, alone -- was enough to override our majority support among all younger age groups. Anyone who thinks a 90-day campaign -- even a flawless one -- is going to overcome the imprint of homophobia on those born before World War II needs to think again.


In addition to older people, the other side also had a stranglehold on regular churchgoers. More than two-thirds (70%) of people who worship at least once a week voted for Prop 8 and they make up nearly half (45%) of the electorate. Yes, our side got an equally large proportion of people who hardly ever attend church (70%), but they comprise only 29% of the vote. Anyone who thinks it is easy to overcome homophobia that's reinforced on a weekly basis from a person's own house of worship doesn't appreciate the role of religion in so many people's lives or its pervasive
use as a rationale for voting for Prop 8: an astonishing 94% of "Yes" voters said "religion" or the "Bible" was most influential in deciding how to vote.

What does combining older voters, frequent churchgoers and Republicans (81% of who voted for Prop 8) yield? A rock solid, close to 50% of the vote, that's what. How solid? Nearly three-quarters (73%) of those who voted for Prop 8 said nothing -- that's right, nothing -- would have changed their mind. And almost all of the rest of them couldn't really name anything real that would have changed their minds. For example, the most common answer offered by these folks was "calling same sex marriage
by another name" -- an option not on the ballot.

Does this mean we can't ever move older voters, Republicans and frequent churchgoers? Of course not. My parents -- both 76, conservative Republicans and devout Catholics -- are prime examples. While they could not be more pro-marriage now, I know in my heart that it's only because my partner (now spouse) and I have been a part of their lives for years -- we could never have moved them in the 90 days the Prop 8 campaign essentially had.

Support on Our Side -- Smaller and Squishy

Our side? Not so big and not so solid. At best, we LGBT people make up 6% of the vote and unlike the fervor from our opponents' much larger base we weren't united on marriage equality. (Two polls said 5% of the LGBT community -- or 1% of the total vote -- actually voted "Yes.") I'm still hearing the refrain "I don't know why we're fighting for marriage -- I don't believe in it" or "It's not my issue." I think this is because for years we've mainly presented marriage as a package of rights -- like a
better dental plan -- than what it's really about, recognition of equal humanity. Whatever the reasons -- they were united and energized; we weren't.

But more important, unlike our opponents, our base beyond LGBT people is squishy on its leading edge. Going into the Prop 8 contest, only a slim majority of Californians (54%) even believed that our relationships are moral. (This figure also was our high point in the superficial public pre-election polls to which so much significance was attached.) This slim majority is all our side had to work with. After all, no one who thinks we're immoral is going to vote to protect our access to the ultimate societal institution used to judge and control sex, procreation and "family values." At the same time, it's hardly a given that people who do not see us as immoral are automatically for marriage equality.

The Ick Factor

In fact, many of those people are still deeply uncomfortable with homosexuality. This "ick" is and always has been our Achilles heel, something our opponents skillfully exploit time and again. Lots of folks I respect have been saying if only the No on 8 Campaign had put up or hit back with forceful, to-the-heart ads featuring gay and lesbian families -- instead of those soft ones with parents or surrogates like Sen. Diane Feinstein -- we would have won. I desperately want to agree, but can't.

The sad reality is that our movables get all wobbly -- they blanch, they stammer, they get visibly uncomfortable -- when faced with the reality of our couples, our families, our children. I've personally seen it dozens of times in focus groups, in one-on-one interviews, and in my own life and my friends' lives. Ads, for example, that make you and me cheer don't work with them at all, they backfire.

What's this about? The short answer is that the ick factor is alive and festering even among people who want to suppress it. These are people who truly want to be fair and who don't want to hurt other people. At the same time, they remain deeply uncomfortable with homosexuality and marriage goes right to the heart of their discomfort, given that sex is central to marriage.

Ads that Move Us Don't Move those We Need to Move

In 2004, when I was at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, we -- like so many people now -- were sick of our side resorting to intellectualized arguments like "Don't write discrimination into the constitution" when the other side was going for arguments that hit the heart and emotions. We were frustrated that our side's campaigns almost never put up ads showing our families speaking in emotion-based arguments in support of marriage.

With no small amount of self-righteousness, we taped a dozen ads featuring gay and lesbian couples speaking from the heart, many with heart-wrenching stories. LGBT loved them. But when we showed them to voters who were opposed to anti-gay discrimination but weren't there on marriage (that is, the movables) all we were able to get from a few people was a hint of empathy, but absolutely no movement on marriage. It was stunning -- incredibly hard to witness. Our elaborately planned campaign had to be scrapped -- we couldn't justify spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on something that made us feel good but didn't move anyone else.

Closer to home, nearly three years ago the Haas, Jr. Fund, Gill Foundation, the David Bohnett Foundation, Ambassador Jim Hormel and others invested nearly $500,000 to understand what would move Californians to support marriage equality and how to address the deeply conflicting views the mushy middle holds about LGBT equality. Once again, ads featuring gay people -- individuals or couples or families -- just did not work. What did work were messages that pushed people to think about the issue in a
new way, namely, asking them how would they feel if they were in our shoes. But again, gay and lesbian people didn't work as the messengers.

That's where the "Garden Wedding" ad came from -- the message being delivered silently by a bride facing numerous obstacles trying to get down the aisle that ended with the tagline "What if you couldn't marry the person you love?". Did I like the ad? Absolutely not.

Did it work? Absolutely. Let California Ring conducted rigorous testing in the Santa Barbara media market last year. A baseline poll found that only 36% of people there supported marriage equality, 8-10 points below the state average. That was followed by a substantial buy for the Garden Wedding ad, coupled with field organizing. A follow-up poll showed that support for marriage equality grew significantly, including a 16% jump among younger voters (as opposed to zero growth in markets where the campaign did not run). More tellingly, on Election Day, Santa Barbara defeated Prop 8 by 10 points (compared to it passing Prop 22 by 14 points in 2000). Santa Barbara was the only county in Southern California to vote No on 8 and the only thing that was different was the Garden Wedding campaign.

Why did it work? Instead of asking viewers to accept a gay couple -- which was simply too much too much for many people -- the ad provided them a way to be empathetic that was more comfortable to them. This made the issue about who they are -- fair minded, not bigoted -- rather than about whether they approve of gay relationships. Sadly, our side was unable to raise the millions required to take the ad statewide in the years and months before Prop 8 qualified for the ballot. Part of this failing was the simple reality that it's very hard to raise money in the absence of a campaign and crisis; the other main reason was that gay donors didn't understand the power and appeal of the ad and didn't step up to fund it.

Where Gay and Lesbian People Don't Make Good Messengers and Where They Do

Here's another painful reality all this research again showed: using gay and lesbian people as messengers not only failed to move people in our direction, it actually hurt us -- driving movables against marriage equality. Over and over the same result: showing them ads with gay and lesbian individuals or couples pushed people the wrong way. And ads that included children with their gay or lesbian parents did even worse. That's why the "Yes on 8" campaign so prominently featured children in its ads.

Think about friends who tell you their relatives are OK with them being gay or lesbian so long as they don't talk about it. Why do so many of us find it so incredibly hard to bring up gay issues with co-workers or when we visit our families over the holidays? Or when we do, what about the painful silence or uncomfortable glances that so often follow? Think your Aunt Jane -- who's only recently started to be nice to your partner -- is going to see a television ad and suddenly think, "Darn, I've been wrong all along about this gay marriage thing!"? Think again.

I am not saying we shouldn't be putting our lives, stories and faces front and center over and over again or that we can't move people solidly to our side. Most of us have seen how taking our lives up close and personal to people around us does, in fact, create change. Moreover, having these direct, real conversations is the only way we're ever going to squelch the ick and inoculate voters from attacks that exploit it.

What I am saying is that we can't leave this hard work until the last minute -- which is what a campaign really is. We can't expect some brilliantly crafted ads -- coming from our collective heart -- to be the silver bullets that kill anti-marriage ballot initiatives in the heat of a campaign, when there is no time and the other side is assaulting our movables with carefully crafted messages designed to exploit every
anti-gay fear and myth. Instead, we need to move people beyond short-term political campaigns and before they get underway.

Moving Forward

Yes, I do think we could have won -- by a fraction of a point -- if everything had gone our way. But everything didn't go our way, including mistakes our side undoubtedly made and things beyond our control like the Mormon President/Prophet's ordering his faithful to fuel the "Yes" campaign. That gave our opponents a two-to-one money advantage 60 days out, something few campaigns of any sort, anywhere, are able to overcome.

As numbing, insulting and painful as our loss was, let's take real pride in the fact that we moved the needle nine points on marriage -- yes, marriage -- in less than eight years. Of course we must face up to and learn from our missteps. But rather than getting caught up in endless recriminations of our recent loss, let's focus on the long term work ahead -- how to build our social movement to win complete equality in California and across the nation.

From a big picture view that means ramping up education and organizing within churches, among younger voters, and in people of color and rural communities. But more important it is what each of us can and must do everyday: having those hard, from the heart talks with our friends, neighbors, relatives and co-workers. Time is once again on our side, let's make the most of it.

UPDATE: A Unite the Fight Report on the EQCA Summit

UPDATE: An article from the San Francisco Gate on the Summit.

Equality California's Equality Summit was defined as "a gathering of community leaders committed to winning back marriage equality in California to network, share information and resources, and plan next steps" on the organization's page, and though EQCA obviously spent a lot of time tailoring an agenda to meet this definition, the many grassroots organizations that attended had other agendas in mind. One in particular: holding the leaders accountable for the failure of the No on 8 campaign.

After a peaceful invocation by Rabbi Denise Eger and Rev. Jonipher Kwong, the latter cracking the smart joke that he didn't need to define invocation after what happened with Rick Warren, the light mood quietly turned sour as the staff and Executive Committee of the failed campaign took the stage. (Panel: Chad Griffin of Griffin-Schake; Yvette Martinez, political director; Sarah Reece of the TASK Force; Kate Kendall, Executive Director National Center for Lesbian Rights; Geoff Kors, Executive Director Equality California; Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center; Chris Maliwat, the campaign's web strategy director who came late in the game - others listed were Julie Davis, Delores Jacobs and Marty Rouse who were not on the stage.)

After perfunctory summaries told by rote from the panel about what happened and what "might've" gone wrong, nothing that hadn't been heard before, a half hour had gone by and attendees were getting fed up and the tension was palpable. One note to mention was Chris Maliwat, who began his portion by saying he didn't begin his job until five weeks before the election and he was just a volunteer. Of course, this illicited shouted responses from the attendees as to why the committee had waited so long to put together the essential web campaign. It's no secret that the No on 8 website was a disastrous failure.

Lorri Jean responded that the campaign had essentially begun in 2005, and after the initial launch and death of the original site, by the time they really needed to relaunch, the money had dried up. They also said they used Black Rock, who they weren't happy with.

The room really began to sizzle when Marriage Equality USA's Molly McKay and Pamela Brown took the stage, issuing an in-depth report with a power point presentation on the mistakes of the campaign, citing information that their organization knew before the election and that had been ignored by the campaign's executive committee, and what needed to be done next. (The reports can be found on the organization's home page) They really drove it home and received a standing ovation afterward.


Many at this point wanted to hold the Q&A, interrupting the moderator with their demands, but David Binder of David Binder Research, presented his statistics on Proposition 8 Post-Election California Survey, an in-depth report that EQCA said will be posted on their site soon.

So when a Q&A finally came up, it was pretty brutal. The event planners collected the questions on 3x5 cards and "organized them by topic." This section was moderated by Karen Ocamb, news editor of IN Los Angeles Magazine. Though she tried to begin by having each panelist member answer what went right and wrong with the campaign, and how to heal the rift between leaders and grassroots, the attendees became extremely vocal in overruling her, pressing for their questions to be answered.

With neutral questions handpicked from the submitted cards being asked (such as comparing stats on those who voted for Obama and those who voted "No"), the attendees started speaking up, asking follow-up questions and not heeding the moderator. At one point, one of the event organizers grabbed a mike and said, "These people worked long and hard on the campaign. They did the best they could!" She got a standing ovation from another part of the crowd, but many people stayed seated.

Robin Tyler, activist and one-half of one of the couples who fought in the courts for the right to marry, even had to stand up at one point and said, "Hey, we're all on the same side. We have to work together now." Lori Jean later in the session grabbed the mike said, "Hey, there were other people involved in the campaign as well. It wasn't just us!" (She was referring to Geoff Kors) She went on to mention that they had at least showed up to talk about the campaign.

Karen, the moderator, did push for answers on using gay consultants for the campaign, and not handing it off to straight, professional political consultants who didn't understand the LGBT lifestyle. Lori Jean fumbled a bit, trying to find words to answer this question, agreeing that it was a mistake to hand everything over to the consultants and trusting them for the results. She added, "There were no LGBT consultants available." Someone cracked that they didn't even know they exist, and Karen quickly mentioned David Mixner. They didn't have a response. Geoff Korrs echoed Lori Jean, saying instead of the consultants, "It should've been us because it's about our lives." He says he lies awake at night thinking about it.

Another mistake was admitted by Yvette Martinez when she said that the campaign headquarters should've been in Los Angeles. This was met with applause.

It was a feat barely accomplished by the moderators to move on. Assemblymember Tom Ammiano spoke quickly but with great humor, quipping, "Thank you for not throwing a high heel at the panel."

He was followed by Eva Paterson of the Equal Justice Society. Equally funny (she admitted to being extremely nervous about the tough crowd) but full of great insight, she talked about what it was like to be straight and black after the election. With the immediate exit polls saying that 70% of the African American community voted for Prop 8 (which was later disputed to be around 58%), she said she would get hateful glances from gays and "felt for a nanosecond what it was like to be a progressive white" after a discriminatory initiative passed against African Americans. "That quickly passed," she joked.

Her speech focused on trying to reveal why African Americans, especially church going members, voted the way they did. Reminding the crowd that a perversion of Christianity was once used to legitimize slavery, people still actually believe that gay people are going to hell, and after hearing time after time from the pulpit that gays are abominations, it's not hard to understand why they voted the way they did.

Eva opened her speech by repeating what Rev. Kwong did during his invocation - holding a minute of meditative silence to bring back the peace and calm to the group in order to focus on unity.

Unfortunately, it didn't last. Half the attendees disappeared at the lunch break.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

UPDATE: Camp Courage - Get Trained to Repeal Prop 8!

UPDATE 1-25-09: Unite the Fight is attending Camp Courage today and we'll be pulled away from blogging. However, this means a report will follow about what to expect if you decide to attend a training session in your area.

The application for Camp Courage has been extended until 5pm today, January 14th. Hurry up and apply - it's free!

The Courage Campaign is hosting numerous one-day training sessions to take place throughout California in community organizing techniques for those who are committed to repealing Proposition 8 and restoring marriage equality to California.

At the sessions, training will consist of the basics: door-to-door canvassing, organizing a phonebank and house party, recruiting and energizing volunteer leaders, and engaging with people in “red” counties and neighborhoods.

The first of these sessions will take place in Los Angeles on January 25th, but the deadline is to apply is TODAY, January 14th at 5pm.

WHAT: Camp Courage, for activists and organizers working to repeal Prop 8
WHERE: Los Angeles, venue TBA
WHEN: Full-day training on Sunday, Jan. 25 (8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m.)
NOTE: A reception featuring Cleve Jones will kick off the training on Saturday, Jan. 24, at 7:30p.m. (venue TBD).

More sessions are in the works to take place in Fresno, San Diego, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo and San Francisco. For questions, email

The Courage Campaign is also asking for your financial support in raising $25,000: