Charla Bansley, would you say that to my face?

my daughter -- climbing to new heights

my daughter -- climbing to new heights

My daughter, like many young kids, finds transitions difficult. Now that she’s been in Kindergarten for one month, things are getting better for her. We were thrilled when she was awarded “Community Leader of the Week” at her school last week, for exercising all of the school’s five “be’s” and in particular for being a good listener. Here are the five “be’s:”

  • Be Safe
  • Be Respectful
  • Be Responsible
  • Be a Listener
  • Be a Learner

It warms our hearts endlessly that she has achieved so much in so short a time. Her moms are especially proud of her earning the award for listening. We could all stand to listen a little closer, so I’m paying attention to my daughter for tips here.

I’m particularly interested today, as the Maine Yes on 1 folks release their “It’s everything to do with schools” ad (see Julia Rosen’s post from today for a good summary of it), in the quality of Being Respectful.

In the ad, Charla Bansley re-introduces the Wirthlin family clip from last year’s California Prop 8 ad. The Wirthlins are the ones who warn us of gay marriage being taught in schools. They even took this to court. In the court’s ruling, from a post over at Dirigo Blue, is the following:

An exodus from class when issues of homosexuality or same-sex marriage are to be discussed could send the message that gays, lesbians, and the children of same-sex parents are inferior and, therefore, have a damaging effect on those students. … It might also undermine the defendants’ efforts to educate the remaining other students to understand and respect differences in sexual orientation.

This is what’s really going on here. The Wirthlins and Charla Bansley have no respect for me and my wife, and want us nowhere near their children. Charla Bansley goes a step further in this word-for-word quote, as Julia Rosen reports:

Public display of psychosis and we have dealt with it by redefining decency down so as to explain away and make normal what a more civilized, and ordered, and healthy society would label deviant and the result has been a stunning failure.

Not only do you not want us around, Charla Bansley, but you find that we are psychotic, deviant, indecent, AND a stunning failure.  Really Ms. Bansley?  If you met me, would you say that to my face? Would you say that to my five-year-old girl?

In reality, Charla Bansley, the Wirthlin family, dear people of Maine (and California): If you vote to pass Question 1 just as California voted last fall to pass Proposition 8, we are not going to disappear. And furthermore, if we met you while we were dropping our kid off at school, we’d have a smile for you — maybe even a hug, especially if you were having a hard drop-off — just like for the rest of the parents we meet.  I am delighted that my child is at a school that teaches respect and inclusion, and I would be happy to teach my child to respect your child even if they are different in any or many ways.

I just want to close with this, if I have your attention: If you can’t treat us with respect in return, would you please at least not teach your children to hurt us, or to ask us to die, or otherwise bully us? Kindergarten can be hard enough as it is (and it looks like some of us could stand a refresher on the curriculum of being respectful).

PS: Take a look at last year’s California ad side-by-side with today’s Maine ad:

Today’s Apology for Clearcutting

Lucy in the Treehouse

Lucy in the Treehouse

Here’s another thing I have to apologize for because of my marriage: Clear-cut forests.

Back in October 2008 (before California’s Proposition 8 was passed to forbid same-sex marriage) my wife, Leanne, made a list of all the terrible things our marriage was likely to cause, including loss of freedom of religion and Armageddon. Recently I learned we’re causing this new terrible thing: clearcutting. Therefore, I’d like to apologize today for that.

I love forests; I prize our lush green woods; I greatly value the Earth and all people and life on it, and I try to teach my daughter the same.  Therefore, I’m really sorry that my marriage with Leanne is responsible for these new barren fields (and probably, therefore, our collective demise).

On the other hand, I would like to thank Maine Senator Larry Bliss, who in fact does NOT see it this way:

Rev. Emrich looks at marriage equality in Maine and sees “acres of clear-cut land.” I look at marriage equality, and I see thousands of Maine couples whose lives are more secure, whose children have more protections under the law and whose rights are assured to love each other and to have the law acknowledge and honor their partnerships.

Thank you indeed, Sen. Bliss, for this excellent article and thanks to Pam’s House Blend for pointing the way to it today.

And now let’s be serious. I have a feeling that most people are not fully evolved in their opinions about this like Rev. Emrich or like Sen. Bliss. I have a feeling that for many people the question of same-sex people marrying — which might seem new and scary to some, especially if you’re told it will cause so much terror — is not so (ahem) clear-cut.  I have a feeling that plenty of people are stuck in between, listening and reading, and trying to figure out how to make sense of all of this.  If you are one of these people, I invite you — in fact, I welcome you — to come to the table with us, sit down, and talk.

We’re probably not as scary and not as horrible as all that.

New Ways of Organizing: Lessons in Online Activism from Prop 8

We witnessed a building of tremendous momentum — particularly online — around and immediately after the passage of Proposition 8 last year in California. This momentum built worldwide, despite the local nature of the proposition. In the wake of Prop 8, civil rights and LGBT organizations as well as nonprofits in general may questioning their role in online organizing. In the extreme case, organizations may be asking themselves: Are we becoming irrelevant?

This was exactly the question posited in last week’s panel at CompassPoint Nonprofit Day in San Francisco:  New Ways of Organizing: Lessons Learned from the Proposition 8 Battle (download the slides).

I had the privilege of participating on the panel, moderated by CompassPoint’s Sierra Catcott, and was joined by Greg Rae and Kristina Loring from the @NoOnProp8 campaign, and Charlie Bufalino, a marriage equality activist who currently canvasses for EQCA.

It was a great panel and I’m thrilled I had the opportunity to participate. My only wish is that we had enough time to take more questions. About 40-50 people attended the session and I could tell there was a lot of interest and a lot of questions left unaddressed. Please chime in in the comments if you have any follow-ups or questions!

In the end, though I don’t believe organizations and leaders become at all irrelevant, there can be little doubt of the power of online activism.  To me, the key lies in bridging the gap between “organizationlessness” and organization. If you’re a nonprofit — or any — organization wondering about building an online presence, my advice would be don’t wonder: begin today, and try to integrate it with your cause.

Thanks again to CompassPoint and Sierra for the opportunity!