Return of the Sun

Light

Light

We went to the Morrison Planetarium the other day, where despite Whoopie Goldberg’s reassuring voice, I felt the usual claustrophobia at the limitlessness of space and yet the finity of our Sun. My daughter was scared most of the time, but we’re not exactly sure why.

It’s my birthday tomorrow and I’ve been wondering what my daughter, and generations to come, will find (and make) of these digital scribblings then of the past. My domain will have expired, and likely my WordPress blog underneath it too. Will there even be domains anymore? What of the Internet itself? All those pictures on Flickr? And What of Facebook? Will my Twitter archive be available?  What about those picture books we’ve printed from Flickr and the blogs we’ve turned into Blurb books? Seems like the newer things are, the shorter they last.  Will there be no hard-bound dusty spined volumes in our girl’s future? Perhaps nothing but an old Google cache — maybe even accessible by some odd unforeseen device such as a private air, space, and time machine… There’s a thought.

It’s odd to know that something entirely new – something inconceivable at present – will then exist to provide the history and context.  As we stand over the brink of one year and look into another, I marvel at how it is that sometimes we can’t really know — and sometimes we know better only in retrospect.

And on that note… I feel it’s impossible to wrap up the year 2009 on its last day, but after the passage of time I begin feel a little clearer about that other old year, 2008.

That was the year we lost Prop 8; we got married, and we also got banned from marrying.  It was the fuel for the worst of days in which I wish we never got up and fought so that people could be so legally ugly to us, and call us psychotic and worse, hurt us, and blame us right here in our homes.  It was perhaps the set-up that led to Question 1 in Maine, confusion in New York and New Jersey and elsewhere, and most profoundly atop much hard work, strife and sadness within the LGBT organizations while “Protect Marriage” rubs its hands in mean glee.

And then I shake my head and I see it there — a brief glimpse of the future, in the light by the sea where we got married.  I see the light in our family and in our friends’ eyes. I see the light in the field across which my daughter runs, stretching towards the brightness of the moving sun, and I know we’re never going to pack it all up and go home, because we LIVE HERE, in this warmth of love and kindness, together with our friends and family, in the light by the sea.  No longer is it the year of failure and loss, but it continues to be the year meanness loses and kindness follows the sun, as day follows night, every single moment of every single day.

I asked my daughter if she learned anything new after our visit to the stars of the Morrisson Planetarium. “I learned that the Sun is a star,” she said wonderously. Twinkle twinkle, little star. To my wife and child and family and friends and community: All the best wishes as one year switches to the next.  You light up my life.

And we begin again.

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!