How can I help make same-sex marriage legal?
November 6, 2009 4:46 AM   Subscribe

The legalization of same-sex marriage is very important to me. What can I do to help?

I don't have much money to donate and I'm wondering what avenues would be best in terms of volunteering my time. Quick background, in case this is relevant in any way: I am a woman married to a man, my mother is an Episcopal priest who agrees with me on this issue and I live in DC so I don't have any congresspeople to whom I can write. What can I do to help make same-sex marriage legal throughout the country?
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl to Law & Government (18 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

Boycotting and following up that boycotting with letter writing.

With a little googling, you can probably find out what products are made in states that have passed gay marriage and what products are made in states that have explicitly banned it.

Then, make a point of letting said manufacturers know why you will or won't be buying their products.

Encourage people you know to buy or boycott the same products. If you have a blog, this would be a great way to get that message across.

Also, choosing vacation spots based on the status of gay marriage in the states you may want to travel to.

But the important part of this is letting the people who will be impacted by your economic choices know the reason for making these choices, and letting them know that you are encouraging your friends and family to make the same choices. If you were a loyal consumer of their product in the past and won't be buying their product anymore, let them know that.

Use a cordial tone in your writing. You want to come across as a reasonable person.

Here's the contact info for the Maine Lobster Council to get you started.
posted by marsha56 at 5:43 AM on November 6, 2009

Best answer: Human Rights Campaign is headquartered in DC, and I'm sure they would be delighted to have you as a volunteer.
posted by DrGail at 5:48 AM on November 6, 2009

Hi, I'm a man married to a woman living in DC and the son of an Episcopal priest who agrees with me.

May I suggest you write, demonstrate, and push for the DC council's approval of our own homegrown gay marriage legalization?
posted by Pollomacho at 7:42 AM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

marsha56's response is, unfortunately, crap. Boycotts rarely work, and the few circumstances in which they have tend to be massively organized and concerted boycotts of local entities. Companies don't give a flying f*ck why you don't buy their products most of the time, especially when it's about an issue they don't have much control over. Things like this have far more to do with making you feel good than they do with getting sh*t done. Do yourself a favor and move on to non-useless gestures.

DrGail is on to something though. Get in touch with a local/state/national political activist group. You're in DC, so it's going to be hard to walk ten paces without hitting one of these. Such groups always need people to draft letters, read mail, work the phones, organize and staff fundraisers, etc. The boring, day-to-day work of political activism. It ain't sexy, but it works. As well as anything in this benighted political system does anyways.

This isn't really directed at gay marriage as such. I'd say exactly the same thing about whatever cause happened to tickle your fancy: don't bother with posturing, get out there and do some real work. Most of the time there is already someone trying to do that work who is desperate for warm bodies. Give 'em a hand.
posted by valkyryn at 7:47 AM on November 6, 2009 [3 favorites]

My wife and I went to the National Equality March with the "straight-but-not-square" coalition; the other (95% gay) marchers really loved us for it. We went specifically to support a friend in the march, but we got a ton of love and support from others, and were thanked profusely for being there. It was quite emotional. It was a pretty small effort on our part, but it seemed to have a big effect on the marchers.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:28 AM on November 6, 2009

Haven't read it but there was a book on this subject a few years back.
posted by pete_22 at 9:17 AM on November 6, 2009

Mrs. Pterodactyl, as a bi woman (legally) married to another woman, I thank you very much for your position.

To me, the most important thing you can do is be a visible straight ally, which means signing up with an organization of your choice - national or local - and participating in their rallies, marches, surveys etc., whatever you're comfortable with.

A few years ago, a straight friend of mine became a member of a local organization called Love Makes a Family and joined them in going door-to-door to pass out information about gay marriage before the election. People were shocked that she would do this as a straight person, and the message of tolerance and live-and-let-live resonated even more with some of them because she wasn't one of the dangerous gays. Her effort was invaluable. (And gay marriage became legal in CT, though probably not just due to her efforts : ) )

That may be more political than you're comfortable with, but I highly recommend that you google straight ally programs and find something you like. Thank you again.
posted by widdershins at 10:01 AM on November 6, 2009

Best answer: In state-by-state fights, you can volunteer to do phonebank calling from your home. I made calls for the "No on 1" campaign from my cellphone in Missouri. When the next cycle of same-sex marriage amendments are up for a vote, contact the local offices and see how you could help.

The passage of the Respect for Marriage Bill (which would repeal the so-called 'Defense' of Marriage Act - DOMA) is the next national step. While you do not have your own Congressional representatives, you do have a president and you can petition him to take more action on Respect for Marriage.

If you want to volunteer in DC, skip the Human Rights Campaign, and volunteer with the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, also headquartered in DC.
posted by hworth at 10:01 AM on November 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

In addition to these good suggestions (well, not the boycott idea), you should make a conscious effort to engage people who disagree with you, regularly and intelligently. Pick these battles wisely: your time isn't best spent on extreme homophobes or on people who'll want to debate you on either moral or practical grounds. There are a lot of straight people who don't really know any gay people. The fastest ticket out of homophobiaville is to know, like, or love a gay person. A straight person who is vocal, passionate, and compelling about gay rights is a decent proxy.

Simply mentioning your gay friends (so-and-so got a new job, their new baby just started walking) to your friends who don't have gay friends is a good and effortless start.
posted by acidic at 10:09 AM on November 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

As widdershins and acidic say, learn the Art of Persuasion in a social context. Put a human face on things. Remind people of their common humanity. Draft ambassadors - introduce (organically) your normal-happy-cool-good-people same gender couple friends to your other friends and relations.

Since we live in the age of youtube, here's an eloquent expression of the human side.


As for the marriage side, here's some rhetoric: it would be logical to follow the lead of the state with the lowest divorce rate in the nation, since they must be experts in marriage. (Massachusetts, 2003, carrying on its long traditions (cf. 1776)).
posted by coffeefilter at 10:49 AM on November 6, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for your suggestions! I've written to the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce and the Human Rights Campaign, so hopefully I can be helpful to one or both of them. Anything else or any other specific organizations are very much appreciated.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:57 AM on November 6, 2009

Best answer: Another "thank you" from someone who may want to marry a same-sex partner someday. And an additional thanks for referring to it as "same-sex marriage" instead of "gay marriage" since it's about opening up the right to marry to everyone, not just gay men.

Other organizations doing good work in support of same-sex marriage in the U.S.:
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
Marriage Equality USA
Freedom to Marry/a>
American Civil Liberties Union
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
National Black Justice Coalition
posted by notashroom at 12:35 PM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

I know it's chatfilter, but I just have to say that the National Black Justice Coalition sounds like the name of an awesome league of Superheroes of Color.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:35 PM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

acidic has it right. Talk to people. Those who are dead set against marriage equality will not likely be convinced, but there are plenty of good-hearted folks out there who are on the fence, or just haven't thought much about it, or haven't connected it with any real people. For many people, marriage equality is an abstract issue; when they realize that it truly harms their neighbor down the street or their co-worker, or when they realize that straight people can be pro-equality without turning gay, they might start to think more about this.

I would avoid the Human Rights Campaign. They don't seem to accomplish very much except take donations, hold dinners, and cut the president miles and miles of slack. And I don't think they get involved on the state level very much at all.

As a gay man, I thank you for wanting to get involved.
posted by Tin Man at 2:22 PM on November 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

DC is on the cusp of some very important changes regarding this issue. find a grassroots organization and help out!

I agree with Tin Man, please avoid HRC. queer folks i know, myself included, think they're a joke. local, grassroots orgs are the way to go!
posted by kuppajava at 6:12 PM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another vote for avoiding HRC, for the reasons given above plus their history of being unsupportive of the trans community, in much the same way that high profile elements of the women's lib movement were unsupportive of women of color. This is why I provided alternative organizations active in the fight for equality.
posted by notashroom at 9:30 AM on November 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the heads up about the Human Rights Campaign -- I will definitely look into other possibilities.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:51 AM on November 9, 2009

Lalex, that's fantastic. Thank you!
posted by notashroom at 6:41 AM on November 11, 2009

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