March 3, 2011
This post is part of P8TT’s semi-annual fundraising drive. Please help us so we can keep this community together to fight the battles ahead. You can chip in here to make a one-time donation, or here to make a monthly donation, which helps P8TT have a more steady source of funding.
The other day, I got the word that Prop 8 Trial Tracker was launching a fund raising drive, as they must do from time to time, and needed some assistance, and I was asked if I could help out. What was needed were some stories, telling why we are here, and what is worth supporting at P8TT. Here are my thoughts.
What brought me to P8TT? Well, about a year ago, while the Prop 8 trial was underway, I was following the news casually on the internet. I was interested to see how the case went, because it had so many implications for the entire country, and I had been saddened that my home state, New York, had not managed to pass our own equality bill. It was a very up and down sort of time here in New York: in New Paltz, Mayor Jason West had married 25 same sex couples in February of 2004; in 2006, the courts finally decided that NY law does not permit same sex marriage; and then various mayors, and eventually Governor Paterson said NY cities and finally New York State would recognize marriages performed in other jurisdictions, while we worked on legalizing marriage equality. I was interested in what was happening in California, as it seemed like it might provide both fuel, and possibly an indication of a time line, for New York.
I was looking for information about the closing arguments in the Prop 8 case, when I came across P8TT. For a couple of months, I lurked, checking in occasionally, reading old threads, catching up on the court transcripts, waiting for info about closing arguments. Then, somewhere in there, I got drawn into the discussion.
What I’ve loved about this place is that there IS discussion. We don’t always agree on things; sometimes we get downright obstinate about our points of view, and the discussions get quite involved. The beauty is that even when we hold divergent points of view, we don’t tear each other down to prove them. For instance, Bob (who is Canadian) and I (who am American) go round and round about freedom of speech and the pros and cons of hate speech legislation. We’ve hit that argument from just about every angle there is, and I don’t think we are ever going to agree about it. But I respect Bob ENORMOUSLY and agree with him on many, many things. I don’t think, were we to have encountered each other on an anti-equality site there would have been room for that respect, yet here there is, and I love that.
I love the education I’ve received here. While the continuing information about NOM and Brian and Maggie and Family Research Council and Tony Perkins and Peter LaBarbera and NARTH and Lou Engle and all is good and valuable, the best thing has been the ongoing availability of court documents, and of people to help explain them. Live blogging of hearings, discussions with lawyers like Shannon Minter and Chris Stoll, and just being able to READ the documents posted and explained by our own amazing Kathleen, Ann S and others, has been an education beyond compare. It is always easy in this sort of a discussion to parrot the talking points that have been used over and over, but to be able to systematically learn about those points, to discuss what the various briefs actually mean, to dissect court rulings for myself so that I KNOW that I know what I am talking about makes me so much better prepared to enter the fray. I haven’t found another site that gives me this sort of an education, and probably won’t short of entering an online law school! I even love it when we defend the enemy, which we do from time to time. When a discussion about Maggie slides into personal insults about her appearance, or when the issue of free speech and Fred Phelps comes up, the fact that there is not a general jumping onto the bandwagon of hatred, but rather that people here actually discuss those issues, is wonderful. And when something like the FKH8T video stirs things up, we don’t always immediately rush to defend because it is “our side” either, we look at it from all sides, and try to give it the rational analysis it deserves.
And I love the community. I would imagine that I am just echoing others when I say that this collection of people, this diverse gang of gay, transgendered, straight, bisexual, and everything else you can think of people is an amazing resource, a terrific support group, an education in and of itself, and a great bunch of folks I am proud to call friends. I love it when someone comes in for a rant on a bad day and stays for cookies and MILK and love and hugs that do flow so freely here. I love it when a side discussion between two people spins out into a new front page thread so that those of us who may have been busy on a Tuesday can catch up on the important news on Wednesday. I love it when P8TT asks one of the posters to write a front page piece to bring in a viewpoint that some of us may have been unaware of, or unfamiliar with. I love that an idea here about making a few phone calls can blossom into a deluge to tell a state senator in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS what we really feel about his or her position on an important piece of legislation. I love that people here come up with brilliant ideas, elliom’s thoughts about feeding the hungry, rather than starving the bigoted, for instance and that people pick up the ball and run with it, turning that idea into Feed Equality, for one. I love that we are not a lock-step “you are with us or you are against us” herd of sheep as some other organizations are, but that we are a collaborative collective of views driven by our own emotional and spiritual and financial and rational involvements in the issue of marriage equality specifically, and of equal rights in general. That I have also had the opportunity to write my ongoing series “On the Bus with Maggie, Brian and Louis” has just been a fun little plus. And upon re-reading this piece, I realize I have left out so many people who should be mentioned by name who are so wonderful around here… but like an Academy Awards speech, I do hope you ALL know who you are, and if I haven’t mentioned you personally, that you will know that if you are reading this, here I am talking about YOU. Each and every one of you!
And that gets me back to why I am writing this down at all.
Here we are at the point where P8TT needs something from us. I know that many of us here do contribute when we can, be it a little bit or a lot, and that is a marvelous thing. I, myself, am not often in a position to make a major monetary contribution to anything other than my rent, but I also know that a random donation of a little bit here and there to the causes I believe in is always appreciated. Adam will be able to tell you much better than I about the expenses in running P8TT, certainly, but I realize that those expenses do exist, and that the folks who work here often do so on little or no budget. And right now (as always, of course, but here they are making a concerted effort) they could use a little help. Often we applaud them, often we sing their praises and quote them and come back to see what good information and new thoughts they have to share with us, and now, if you can, they’d appreciate a little applause of the green folding kind. Whatever you can do, if you can, on top of all the incredible advocacy that you of this community already do, would be of great help in keeping this place that we all love a going concern.