It's funny, Tuesday afternoon, after watching the noon news, inside my head, I was willing to entertain the idea that we could lose. I mean actually lose! The local newscast had ended with a piece about ballot question 1856--the non-discrimination ordinance that has been raising such a dust-up here in Kalamazoo. The African-American minister being interviewed was saying that he had no problem with the ordinance: "People are entitled to live whatever lifestyle they choose." It was "the bathroom thing" he had a problem with.
There had been a steadily increasing diet of this biased media over the three or four previous days. On the other hand, letters to the editor were running roughly 2 to 1 in favor of the ordinance. OK, deep breath. I settled on: Win--53-54%. By ten o'clock, it was a done deal except for today's hangovers--Sixty-three percent. Yes, you heard me right, 63% Absolutely unbelievable.
Ok, so, now what do we do?
We hold workshops. We have forums. We educate. Now that the campaigning is over, it is possible to begin dispelling the myths. Now comes the less frenzied but, equally as important work of helping the community understand what they just voted for, or had thrust on them, depending of course, on your point of view.
The margin still feels extraordinary. We had promised to run a different type of campaign here. It would appear that that new model worked. We did no mudslinging, mythbusting, fact twisting and no demanding. Conspicuously missing was any strident "Equal Rights Now!" No matter how often the media characterized Kalamazoo Alliance for Equality and One Kalamazoo as "Gay Rights" activist groups, we merely smiled and continued to describe "Equality and Fairness for all of Kalamazoo's citizens, including those who are Gay or Transgender".
The sheer magnitude of the field operation campaign manager Jon Hoadley orchestrated along with Trystan Reese, Darryl Watson, Miranda Rosenberg and E.J. Dean was breath taking. I don't have in front of me the number of individual donors and the number of volunteers One Kalamazoo was able to generate but, I can tell you, they are impressive numbers indeed.
The effort necessary to follow through with the community will be no less impressive. It may take longer. It certainly won't get your adrenaline pumping as hard and in many ways will seem just plain boring. It will be in some ways infinitely more frustrating, much more time consuming, and harder to keep people engaged with. It is, however, the reason we had a campaign.
Ok ... So, that's what we do next.
Who wants to help?