I hate to be grumpy, but I am horrified by the latest rallying cry for the National Equality March. It's the grassroots slogan: "One Fight, Not Fifty."
Just to be clear... I'm not attacking the march. What's got me gritting my teeth and pulling my hair in frustration is the naïve idea that LGBT equality can be achieved through one campaign. The theory this slogan promotes is that we can win equality by winning a single, decisive battle in Washington, D.C.
I first saw the slogan on the National Equality March Facebook page:
One of our posters today says it all: 'One Fight, Not Fifty'
The post received numerous positive comments, including this one:
Spot on! This fight is national, making it 50 fights is keeping us down and oppressed...
The problem with the slogan is that it ignores political reality. Even if we only focus on changing federal laws, we still will have to do battle in nearly every corner of the nation.
Actually, to say the slogan "One Fight, Not Fifty" is naïve is an understatement. I would be delighted if all we had to do was to engage in 50 fights.
In reality, we have to win 278 separate campaigns in order to win in Congress. In other words, we have to elect 60 pro-LGBT senators and 218 pro-LGBT members to the House of Representatives. Those are the number of votes necessary to pass a controversial bill.
The good news is that the politicians we elect don't have to love us. They just have to be convinced that a majority of likely voters in their home states and districts will punish them if they vote against us. Politicians also have to know right down to their socks that if they vote for fairness and equality, they will be re-elected.
To do this, we have to organize in our own towns -- not just in Washington, D.C. For some of you lucky folks, the battle has already been won. (Hey there, constituents of Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, Jared Polis, Dennis Kucinich and others!) Other pro-equality Americans face a long battle in their own backyards.
I've always thought that the recipe for success for the LGBT movement is one part courage, one part hard work and one part political savvy.
We all know courage because we live it every day, whether we are LGBT or straight allies. We aren't afraid of hard work. The post-Proposition 8 boom in activism illustrates that fact.
Now that we are on the cusp of winning equality, we also can't afford to be ill informed. In school you may have hated Political Science, but out here in the world the path to equality is paved with knowledge.