Editor's Note: Guest blogger Thom Watson was born in a "pro-America" part of the country but then grew up to become a gay, liberal, Harvard-educated atheist living in northern California. He has come to terms with the fact that this pretty much disqualifies him from ever holding public office.
In 2010 I authored a Bilerico guest post detailing the frustration my fiancé and I encountered during the Prop 8 trial, as we kept hoping to be able to be marry but were stymied time after time. Such experiences helped catalyze our own involvement in marriage equality advocacy, leading me, in fact, to pursue full-time volunteer activism at Marriage Equality USA as the organization's social media director.
Fast-forward three years. On the first day marriage licenses were again being made available to California same-sex couples in June, Jeff and I rushed to San Francisco City Hall to obtain ours, which we did right after witnessing Prop 8 plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier's marriage on the Mayor's Balcony.
Three weeks ago, on September 26, Jeff and I were back at City Hall, where we finally were legally married in that very same spot by our friends and fellow MEUSA volunteers John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney. John and Stuart were plaintiffs in the 2004 case that brought marriage equality to California in the first place.
The joy and satisfaction I feel every time I now call Jeff my husband, which I do pretty much every chance I get, is something I want all Americans to be able to experience in having the same right to marry the person they love, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and regardless of the state in which they live.
MEUSA relies on direct, grassroots, volunteer action to help secure the freedom to marry, and the organization's strength lies in its ability to train, motivate, and turn out LGBT individuals and same-sex couples, our families, and our allies all over the country to tell our own stories, and to be our own best advocates.
Thousands of couples like Jeff and me, beneficiaries of the work of organizations like MEUSA to win the freedom to marry, continue to pay it forward by working to bring marriage equality to the rest of the country. In lieu of a wedding gift registry, for example, Jeff and I established an equality registry to help raise money for ongoing efforts to secure marriage equality in the remaining 37 states where this freedom still is unrecognized.
MEUSA recently announced the re-launch of its National Equality Action Team (NEAT), an action-oriented coalition of nearly 50 national, regional, state, and local organizations. NEAT builds on earlier successes in Minnesota, Maine, Maryland, Washington, Rhode Island, and Delaware, where the coalition hosted almost 150 phone banks and made approximately 100,000 phone calls for marriage equality, in addition to putting canvassers on the ground and door to door in many of those states.
Working in concert with and at the behest of local equality organizations, NEAT makes it very easy for anyone anywhere in the country to get involved, with other local organizations or just from the comfort of one's own home.
Please join us next Thursday, October 24th, at 7:30 p.m. PT, as NEAT hosts a national "night of action" for Hawaii. You can phone bank from home, together with others at a location of your choosing, or if you're in the Los Angeles area you can join us at The Center in Long Beach. In New York, the "city that never sleeps," we've planned an in-person luau phone bank party in Times Square at 10:30 p.m. ET.
To get involved, simply visit www.theneat.org and sign up under the Call from Home, Long Beach (CA), or New York City (NY) options. You will receive an email with the phone number and materials needed for the action on the 24th. While on the site, you also can sign up to support phone banking for Illinois and New Jersey, and canvassing trips to the latter.
With your help, we can make marriage equality a reality in Hawaii.