I’ve been thinking quite a bit this week about, what I see as a quickly changing world for LGBT activism. Actually it has been changing for a while- maybe I either am just getting caught up to speed, or the events of the last few weeks simply bring it into a sharper focus.

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) bus tour, and the decision by Judge Vahn Walker  to over-turn the Prop 8 vote. Marriage is now, fully and completely eclipsed the entire LGBT activism arena. There is no LGBT issue except marriage out there, and work on any other issue will have to adapt and change accordingly. I’m not saying this is a bad thing- I’m not making any value judgement of good or bad- just calling it like I see it. You may be thinking, like Duh…. where have you been? Well, I’ve been focused on trying to achieve equality, and for as much as we gain (at least in the short term in California) we keep losing ground every where else when it comes to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender issues overall. So, point #1 is that the marriage battle has totally eclipsed all other LGBT issues. Time to totally accept that.

This is partly due to point #2, which is that large organized LGBT groups are no longer in charge of the activism agenda. Maybe they weren’t in charge to begin with or were simply not being successful at it, but now, individuals, and a couple of lawyers are dong more to create change, or at least that is how it appears. Maybe I have that wrong. Groups like the Courage Campaign have played a big role in what has been happening since the Prop 8 trial began. But are they leading the change and the growing rise of individual involvement or did they fill a gap at providing information and tools that met the needs of individuals?

Specifically, I’ve been thinking much about the rallies happening as a counter to the NOM bus tour. Here in Pennsylvania, a group of about 50 gathered to counter the lies and misinformation being spread by NOM. A Facebook friend described the crowd as smaller than NOM supporters, but added, that was because Equality PA had been encouraging people to not protest. I was in support of that decision- to not counter protest. I thought that groups all across the state needed to do more about the NOM visit like hold a press conference and other actions to be clear about how LGBT Pennsylvania feels about these out-of-staters coming here to raise trouble like they have done in other states, but I wasn’t of the mindset that a big counter protest was the answer. Then Walker handed down his prop 8 ruling, and everything started to shift. Imagine if there were 50 there without much organization, how big of a crowd could have been gathered if there was a major push to create a real counter demonstration?

Maybe this isn’t really a question of a shift from LGBT organization to grass roots, but rather, it is really about the ease to switch directions and adapt to the changing activist landscape. When Walker’s decision was handed down, it impacted the entire Marriage Equality discourse, and thereby, changed the LGBT Rights dialogue too. Utterly changed it.That single act made countering NOM mean different things. Because of Walker’s historic decision, was not countering NOM a missed opportunity to speak out to, and mobilize further a growing grass roots networks of LGBT activists across the state? I don’t ask that as a criticism of what did happen, but rather as a question looking forward. The LGBT “community” throughout Pennsylvania, is making few gains towards equality, nor have we been making much ground for sometime. We all must be able to sit back and evaluate what we are doing, and why it is or isn’t working and make adjustments if we are going to do better in the future.

Is everything changing? Is the push for nondiscrimination or other rights less important than marriage? Or do LGBT rights groups lack an ability to adapt and use the current environment well? Or is something going on, I haven’t mentioned at all? What do you think?


  1. It is my opinion that these see nothing, hear nothing, do nothing activist groups are a cancer to equality; they’re just a bunch of swindlers. The LGBT community needs to grow a pair and tell NOM (and their apologists) they’re not tolerating any more of their shenanigans..

    • So, what does that look like in practical terms? Do you or I phone Maggie Gallagher or Brian Brown? How does that play out in the real world?