“The minute we say we are going to boycott the LDS, for example, we stray. It is time we take back the conversation and do it responsibly. There is already too much finger pointing.

Photobucket Amy Balliett, Founder of the National Anti-Prop 8 protests happening this Saturday

Today was the first time that I realized how large the protests against prop 8 are going to be on Saturday. Maybe it was my friend in Georgia posting on facebook all the information for the protest sites in their state (GEORGIA!). Maybe it was my favorite blogs (Pams House Blend in NC), podcasts (Feast of Fools in Chicago) and media sources talking up the protest organizing. It might well have been the buzz in the air, of friends postponing trips, getting off work and skipping meetings. It means that many of the people in my life are dropping their usual routine to have their voices heard.

I'm excited along with everyone else. I do however wonder if other activists, like myself, feel an intense tinge of guilt. I spent all my pre-election spare hours volunteering for Obama, even as marriage equality advocates desperately needed volunteers.

I know, we all care about so many issues and we can't possibly work on all of them at the same time. But that doesn't take away from the shame I feel at not pushing myself that extra mile, donating that one more dollar (I only donated a measly $10), phoned a friend, done SOMETHING.

My organizer friend in California posted as their gmail status: “Where were all these ralliers when we needed phonebank volunteers?”.

I can't speak for everyone, but I was so caught up in helping a fellow person of color get elected to the highest office that I temporarily neglected my other duties. I primarily neglected my identity as a queer man and the responsibility to my queer community which that identity requires.

My guilt for not volunteering to fight the marriage amendments is now transforming itself into a zeal to recommit myself to fighting for marriage equality. When I heard of the story of Amy Balliett, I discovered how powerful an impact one can make when they decide to recommit to fight for equality:

“Join the Impact” began as a blog post and email template by Willow Witte, a friend of Balliett’s who had sent the missive to inspire friends after the passage of California’s anti-gay marriage Proposition 8.

The success of similar propositions in Arizona and Florida, as well as an anti-gay adoption measure in Arkansas, only added gravity to the situation. Witte encouraged contacts to forward the note to their local LGBT groups to solicit plans of community action. Balliett responded to her friend’s email saying, according to a post on the site, “We shouldn’t wait, we need to mobilize now, and we need to on a national level, at the exact same moment, throughout the country.”

And mobilize they did: this past Friday, Nov. 7, ‘”Join the Impact” hit the web. Five hours later, the site logged 10,000 visitors. Apparently a lot of other people shared the young women’s desire to turn despair into resolve.

By midnight, 20 cities’ worth of young volunteers had signed on to organize protests against the discriminatory propositions.

The next evening, Nov. 8, the site had tripled its hits.

By Monday morning, a plan had emerged: Cities around the country would organize their own efforts to coordinate a synchronized protest for Sat., Nov. 15, 10:30 a.m. PST. The movement became officially global with hits from the UK and France, and by Nov. 11, over one million visitors had come to the site.

Across the country, posts on Craigslist, bulletins on MySpace, and emails on ListServs with titles like “Meet at City Hall next weekend!” and “Upset about Prop 8? Here’s what YOU can do about it,” began to buzz with notice of the upcoming national protest.

A quick glance at my facebook home page has more than a dozen prop 8 related facebook groups, events or status updates that my friends have created or joined. I received and sent emails, blog posts & text messages related to the Saturday protests.

My age group of 18-29 year olds were the only age demographic to oppose Prop 8 in California. With all this organizing against prop 8, it's clear that my age group is not softly supporting marriage equality, but see equal marriage as a necessary component to the world and society that they are inheriting.

And that, truly, is the most heartening discovery of my post-Prop 8 introspection.

“For me it’s second nature,” says Balliett of social networking. “It’s my job. I think: Need to organize an event? Use the Internet. Throw a party? Use Evite. Technology offers a platform on which to hold the conversation. It’s also given a platform for us to rally together and organize.”…

“When we’re backed into a corner,” she continues, “as we have been with these propositions, we cannot let ourselves be silenced. Protest is a way to bring that conversation back to a national level.”

Ironically, taking the conversation to a national level is exactly what proponents of the ballot measures did, tapping into the social networking wealth of organized religion. Much of their victory is credited to last minute Mormon and Catholic collaboration, as well as the church segment of the wide African-American turn-out for Barack Obama.

But Balliett insists that polarizing the debate will solve nothing.

I'm excited that facebook has increasingly been used as a tool for mass education and progressive activism. I find myself spending 1-2 hours a day on facebook, largely to track the increasing political content to be found on that site.

I'm happy that Amy took the initiative to organize this site and movement. I encourage all of you to visit the Join The Impact website.

 I leave you all with a cute story about Amy and her partner:


“I’m a musician… but she’s an amazing musician,” says Balliett of Jessica Trejo, a fellow Seattle singer-songwriter. “I had an ego until I met her.”

A few years ago, Balliett talked Cafe Racer into letting her put together a show, ironically, a Bitter Valentine’s Day concert. Trejo was one of the dozen or so attendees.

Within weeks, the pair began dating, and after a year, Balliett proposed. Needless to say, the news of Prop 8’s passing was personal…

Balliett lives this brand of respect. At her own nuptials, she and her betrothed were mindful that certain family members would be traveling not only great physical distances but also great philosophical differences to share in the ceremony.

“It was very important for us to have as many loved ones present at our wedding. Since we can’t have the laws of our own government bind us together for life, we needed to have the laws of our family bind us together for life.

“In marriage, God and family keep us accountable. But government is supposed to provide the rights to help us stay accountable. If we are outside of Washington state, for example, and one of us goes into the hospital, the absence of those rights makes it impossible to be able to take care of each other and to live up to the commitments we have made to one another,” she says.

And with this simple, yet thoughtful assertion, this passionate 26-year-old has managed to reframe the entire marriage debate. The framework is respect.

Show up this Saturday to a protest near you!

Take photos!

Post them to Dailykos!


“The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
– MLK Jr.