I have literally started this blog post three other times now, so I hope the 4th is the charm. A few weeks ago, I was ripped a new one on Facebook for agreeing with Equality PA’s position not to support a counter protest when the National Organization for Marriage comes to Harrisburg next weekend. And, while I do wish Equality PA was doing a little more than screening a film, I think they are right on the money when it comes to the counter protest.

Countering NOM may make Marriage Equality supporters feel good, and let them blow off a bit of righteous steam, they also totally play into meeting NOM’s needs and help them garner publicity where they might not otherwise get any. Why are we helping them be successful, even if it makes us feel good?

Truly, a case can be made for counter protesting NOM. They are speaking a pack of lies, and a counter demonstration illustrates to all that not everyone agrees with their twisted ideas. In a counter protest, we (Marriage Equality supporters) are visible, and places human faces on the issue. And it makes us feel good, and that isn’t unimportant. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and allies face frequent disappointment and struggle so that we need to appreciate and utilize every opportunity to feel like we can make a difference. But that’s the real issue. Do we really make a difference when we counter protest, or if we do, is it enough to warrant the action?

Despite what some people feel, the NOM leadership is made up of some very smart folks. Sure, the do these public things, like their bus tour to have an effect, but their real goal is getting money into states to do damage to our efforts. This was their primary goal in both California and Maine, and it is why they are fighting so hard against the full disclosure of their donors and finances. Things like the bus tour function like a magician’s slight of hand. It feeds their base, and draws attention away from their really damaging activity- the money and funding.

If we really want to harm NOM, or gain any real value, we need to turn our focus towards shining a light on their money and funding ventures, and leave the wacky protestors alone so that the media leaves them alone as well.

I think there is a reason why NOM is coming to Pennsylvania that deserves some discussion.

The governor’s race. Tom Corbett has already promised that if he is elected governor, he will push for the legislature to pass a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. This is exactly the type of thing NOM wants to see. NOM can help solidify support for Corbett. A counter protest probably only helps Corbett more. To benefit Marriage Equality efforts in PA, we need to make sure Tom Corbett is not elected governor.

Diane Gramley and the AFAPA. Like it or not, we have a very active and vocal anti-gar rights activist in Western PA named Diane Gramley. Her loyal followers may not be that numerous but they sure are vocal. NOM can only strengthen the AFAPA. The solution to that isn’t a NOM counter protest but rather we must continue to organize in every community small and large across Pennsylvania so that our voices are loud, and there is always ample push-back to the AFAPA.

Constitutional Convention. I’ve been told I’m so wrong about this one, but I’m not yet convinced. Both Dan Onorato and Tom Corbett are suggesting changes to state government that will require a constitutional convention to be held. While all of the talk is that social issues will be off the table, but how will that play out, especially if the Republicans win big in November? Especially following the CA Prop 8 decision, NOM will be working overtime to get as many states as they can to have as many obstacles as possible to stop gay marriage. A constitutional convention would certainly be a good place to do some of that work.

Those calling for counter protest cite how justified they are and how marriage equality is a right. But not one I’ve spoken to or read can say how, in a tangible way, a counter protest will further our goal of obtaining real equality.

I have one exception to the no counter protest idea, had that is when NOM gets to Washington DC. There, NOM will get the media attention no matter what, and so there, it becomes important to get a huge crowd out.

If you disagree, or agree, leave a reply and explain how you se this issue.

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