April 12, 2011
Please welcome our old friend Louis for a guest post here at Prop8TrialTracker/NOM Tour Tracker. -Adam
By Louis J. Marinelli
As many of you know, last summer I organized the 2010 “Summer for Marriage Tour” for the National Organization for Marriage. Over the course of thirty days, I traveled across the nation pushing an agenda that is at odds with our constitution and our American values.
As a conservative at heart, I deeply regret the work I did not only during the summer of 2010 but over the past five years as a whole to curtail the rights of gays and lesbians in this country. And I’m coming here to tell you about what led to my change in heart… and to ask for your help.
First, I am overwhelmed by the response I have received from the LGBT community and their straight allies. Over the past five years I have spent my time attacking, misrepresenting and offending these people and since my announcement they have been able to put all of that behind them and show me nothing but kindness and support. I am truly inspired by the messages I have received and continue to receive since I announced my support for civil marriage equality on April 8th.
There are many factors that led to my change of heart but without a doubt it is rooted in the fact that during the very summer tour that I organized, I was forced to see gays and lesbians upfront for who they really were. For the first time they became real people to me who had real lives and I understood the work I was doing was negatively affecting them in real ways.
That is exactly what needed to happen and I directly credit the work the Courage Campaign did in conjunction with all of you here at Prop8TrialTracker/NOMTourTracker for playing an instrumental role in my change of heart.
Arisha and Anthony approached me several times throughout the summer tour. I remember sitting on a bench in St. Louis, Missouri alone with Anthony for a few minutes. It was just the two of us talking off camera. It was then that I empathized with Anthony for the first time, although I did not tell him.
I understood for the first time that my work wasn’t affecting some faceless, nameless political targets but instead good people just like Anthony. Gays and lesbians just wanted to participate in all that is America.
This culminated in Atlanta which was our next stop on the tour. I questioned myself for the first time as I was standing before the hundreds of gays, lesbians and straight allies that came out that day to stand up for equality and civil rights and stand against injustice and ignorance.
I have firsthand experience knowing that anyone can change if they could just see how their anti-equality work is affecting real people. I would like to thank the people at the Prop 8 Trial Tracker/NOM Tour Tracker and the Courage Campaign for doing the legwork and putting in the time and effort to change my life for the better.
Now I want to return the favor by fighting for full marriage equality.
To show just how much I want to make up for what I did in the past, today Courage Campaign sent a guest e-mail from me to some of its members asking for $5 — one dollar for each of the five years I worked with NOM — so that they can make more change of heart “moments” happen with their work. I would be honored, and grateful, if you would chip in to help move more people like me. I am proof that the work you, and they, do with your support actually does change hearts and minds.
Living in Russia, I understand what it’s like to live in a country that doesn’t respect everyone’s civil rights and that doesn’t respect its own constitution. America is better than that.
Now, thanks to Arisha, Anthony and the thousands of gays and lesbians who participated in the summer tour as counter-protesters — including many of you — I support marriage equality for all in this country. Equality is what America is about, it is what our constitution calls for and it is what I vow to help to achieve moving forward.
I am truly grateful for this and therefore I am asking for your help in supporting their work to change more hearts, one by one if necessary, as they did with mine.
Thank you for all the work you’ve done, and I’m honored to do it with you now… together.