March 12, 2009

Thoughts From a GLBT Grassroots Advocate

DC's Metro Weekly published an extensive interview with Michael Crawford, a veteran GLBT advocacy organizer who currently is heading up the fight for legalizing same-sex marriage in the nation's capital. Here are a couple of excerpts:

Right now, with strong Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and with President Obama in the White House, we have a really strong chance of getting hate crimes, ENDA and a national AIDS strategy all this year -- and potentially next year, Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed. The work we really need to be doing right now is, frankly, not in D.C. HRC needs to be doing its work in D.C. on the Hill, lobbying, pushing that message out, working the national media, etc. But for the folks out in the states, the best work that they could be doing right now is pushing their state legislators to enact pro-LGBT legislation and urging their members of Congress to vote for hate crimes, ENDA and other federal pieces of legislation.

Really, the most effective strategies are going to be the ones that blend the grassroots organizing -- the Harvey Milk school of organizing -- with a lot of the online organizing that's been pioneered by groups like MoveOn. Fusing the two is what's really going to give us the best possible chance of passing our legislative agenda, bringing more people into the movement -- both gay and non-gay people -- and really shifting the way people think about gay people.

In terms of marriage here, it's going to require that the gay community do things a little differently. One, every single gay person is going to have to participate on some level. Every single gay person in the city is going to have to be part of this fight, because once a marriage bill is passed and we're facing the possibility of a Prop. 8-style ballot fight, the national anti-gay organizations are going to pour money into D.C. and we're going to have to be ready to defend ourselves.

Two, we are going to have to realize that it's not just about us. It's not just gay people who think gay people should be able to marry, but a lot of our straight friends and families believe that as well. We're going to have to create spaces where non-gay people can work with us in terms of pushing for marriage equality. And we're going to have to do a lot of the work that we haven't done before, in terms of reaching out to folks outside of the gay community, including the African-American community and communities of faith.

Click here to read the rest of the interview.

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