This fall, in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, & Washington State varied groups worked together to WIN elections. We reelected President Obama and we passed marriage equality initiatives – just to name a few victories. Dan Savage writes about the coalition that worked for marriage equality in Washington State, noting the help that straight supporters contributed to the effort:
They gave money, they volunteered their time, they reached out to friends and relatives and coworkers, all in an effort to make it possible for same-sex couples to marry. Gays and lesbians are a tiny percentage of the population. We couldn't do this on our own. A majority of the legislators who voted for same-sex marriage? Straight. The governor who signed the law making same-sex marriage legal in Washington state? Straight. The majority of the folks manning the phone banks for R-74? Straight. The overwhelming majority of people who voted to approve R-74? Straight. The president who took a huge political risk and came out for marriage equality before his reelection campaign? Straight. It has gotten better for us—better, not perfect—but it hasn't gotten better for us in a vacuum. It's gotten better for us because straight people have gotten better about us.
This isn't just a “feel good” column for those of us who support marriage equality. At DailyKos, Markos points out how this is a symptom of a progressive movement that's maturing. It's a group of people who realize that if we don't all stand together, we'll lose separately.
The 2000s have brought a more cohesive progressive movement, led in large part by non-issue specific holistic progressive organizations, like DFA, MoveOn and Daily Kos. This focus on broad movement-building has gotten liberals away from that single-issue mentality to the point where coalition building has become second nature. it was nothing like that even a short decade ago.
But there is one way the equality movement stands apart from the rest—it is unquestionably the most effective movement of our generation. When Howard Dean ran for president in 2003, he was considered radioactive because he had passed civil unions in Vermont. Today, just nine years later, we reelected a president who supported marriage rights for all.
That dramatic change didn't happen in a vacuum, and it didn't happen passively. And I guarantee that the lessons the equality movement learned over this past decade will pay big future dividends for the rest of the progressive movement.
Well heck… I knew that about coalition building 25 years ago! I participated in the second march on Washington for GLBT rights. Why? Because it was A: the right thing to do and B: my GLBT friends were there there at the “March for Women's Lives” in 1986. They were also there in 1989 & 1992 and I joined with them again to march for gay rights in 1993. We met once more in DC in 2004 to march for choice. Many of us also met in 2006 to urge the US to take action against genocide in Darfur.
But besides the large marches in DC, we've worked together in our communities and state governments to work on issues like domestic violence, adoption rights, marriage equality, choice, religious freedom, and more. Because we know we're all in this together.
All of us – in every march, rally, election, etc… – had various issues that were most important to us personally. But we all realized that what matters most is that we stand united with our friends.
United we win. Divided we sit around and wonder why we lost.