Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Today's Must Read: Eating ourselves alive won't repeal California's Prop 8

If you want to repeal the Proposition 8 ban on marriage equality, you need to read the reports of Karen Ocamb, news editor of IN Los Angeles magazine. Ocamb is the only full-time reporter who attended the leadership summit in Los Angeles on July 25, and her reports provide context and detail that other blog posts lacked.

Her reports also show that that California's LGBT community is in trouble if it really wants to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage. Part of the problem comes from the complexity and difficulty of the task itself, and part of the problem comes from divisions within the community.

Ocamb has the best perspective I've seen so far on what happened in LA. I'm going to quote her at length because I think what she says is so important. (I've added emphasis.)
The real problem, from my perspective, is that right now - and for the past seven months - the acrimony among institutional leaders and grassroots activists is only deepening. It's as if all the 8hate has been turned inward - we are the enemy, anyone who is not immediately, completely, absolutely with us now and forever more.

The rivers could part and a charismatic general who meets everyone's leadership criteria could emerge carrying unlimited funds and access to the latest technology and voter data bases - and still we'd fight and hurl nasty invective at our LGBT enemy in public - and do it with a self-satisfied sneer.

I was disappointed that no one during the entire seven hours talked about how the issue of marriage is "different" from any other social issue - different enough to enable a constitutional scholar such as Barack Obama to deny his previous belief in full equality and now embrace separate-but-equal civil unions because "God is in the mix." But one principle that both sides called for and all the consultants cited as necessary to win - was unity.

It seems to me that the first step to winning back marriage equality is finding a mediator who can help this community find common ground and learn to keep our eye on the prize so we can move forward together. There are now so many LGBT folk who want to be leaders - let this be their first real test of leadership: find a way to bring us together.

I know what it feels like to be in a losing campaign, and to be in the middle of a firestorm as the community attacks itself. I was at the center of the same kind of fury after LGBT Kansans lost a similar vote in 2005. The anger and frustration -- and the need to scapegoat someone -- was enormous, and this happened in a state where few thought we ever had a real chance of winning. I can only imagine how much more painful it is to be in California right now and to have lost when so many thought victory was at hand.

But as Ocamb said this is the moment when real leadership has to arise. No matter how much it hurts, how angry we are and how much we want to find someone to blame, we have to transcend those feelings and find a way to work together. Without unity within the LGBT community and with our pro-equality allies in California and in the rest of the nation, we will all fail. By attacking each other, we are doing the homophobes work for them.

Please read each of Ocamb's reports. They're posted on Bilerico:
By the way, I met Ocamb through the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, and I respect her work. She has more than 30 years experience as a journalist, having started her career at CBS News in New York. She eventually became a producer, leaving CBS after producing coverage of the 1984 Olympics for CBS affiliates.

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