Longtime activist calls for more ‘democratic’ marriage-equality movement
Many at Town Hall forum endorse 2010 as year to overturn Prop. 8
Published Thursday, 02-Jul-2009 in issue 1123
Longtime GLBT activist Robin Tyler called for a more democratic marriage-equality movement at the Activist Town Hall forum at The San Diego LGBT Community Center, on Tuesday, June 23.
“This movement hasn’t become radical enough. This movement pretends to be democratic, but it’s far from,” Tyler said.
Tyler, a pioneer within the GLBT civil rights movement and executive director of The Equality Campaign, was the first lesbian to sue the state of California challenging the ban on same-sex marriage.
Tyler put the spotlight on the Courage Campaign, an organizing network that fights for progressive change in California, including marriage equality, saying its structure is undemocratic.
“The Courage Campaign goes around and organizes these things in cities, and you sit around telling each other stories, your personal stories. You cry and share your stuff and then nothing. Nothing happens. It’s not democratic,” she said.
Tyler also said that this year’s fifth march on Washington for GLBT rights, called last June by activist Cleve Jones, was another example of the movement’s more autocratic leanings.
“This year’s march on Washington isn’t democratic. Nobody voted on a platform,” she said.
Last November, Tyler called for such a march for 2010 or 2012, depending on what year marriage-equality leaders would decide to put a new measure on the ballot to overturn Proposition 8, the state ban against same-sex marriage, so as not to overstretch local resources.
Tyler said she was astonished when she heard that the march would be held this year during the Meeting in the Middle march and rally in Fresno last May.
“We went to Fresno, and they told us there would be a march this year. Nobody voted if we should hold it in 2010. It wasn’t discussed in Fresno,” Tyler said.
“There should be no accepting of a top-down party organization,” said International Socialist Organization San Diego Chapter member Adriane Bracciale. “We don’t have to wait for someone to tell us what to do with our gay rights movement to have our rights won for us. We should win our rights for ourselves.”
Zakiya Khabir, member of San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality (SAME), said that everyone in attendance at the meeting was a member of the organization, since anyone who attends a SAME meeting is able to vote and influence the direction of the organization.
“We are truly for the people, by the people and of the people,” Khabir said.
Many of the speakers and attendees at the forum endorsed 2010 over 2012 as the year when a new measure should go before voters to overturn Proposition 8, the state ban against same-sex marriage.
“I am going to go with Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and say that civil rights cannot wait,” said Bracciale.
“I personally think 2010 is the right time,” said Rev. Madison Shockley, Pastor of the Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad.
There are countless reasons for overturning Proposition 8 next year, Khabir said, including the fact that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and California Attorney General Jerry Brown – two staunch supporters of same-sex marriage – will be running for state governor in 2010 and that President Obama – who is not supportive of same-sex marriage – will be a liability when he runs for reelection in 2012.