Election 2012: Fighting for marriage in Washington state

By Causten E. Wollerman, Task Force Field Organizer

Members of our Academy for Leadership and Action recently returned from Washington state where the push is on to secure the freedom to marry once and for all. Trina Olson, Trystan Reese, Malcolm Shank and I went to Washington to support Washington United for Marriage. We worked alongside field organizers calling voters and recruiting volunteers, and provided training for the Washington United field staff on volunteer recruitment and team development.

Task Force Senior Training Manager Trina Olson trains Washington United staff.

In every campaign, we talk about the power of being open about who we are as LGBT people and allies. In Washington and on other campaigns, we make sure to emphasize that while marriage is an important issue, what we’re really fighting for is a world in which we are free to be who we are and love whom we love, free of fear and discrimination.

No statistic, calculated message or celebrity is more effective at moving a voter than a personal connection. Those of us who work tirelessly for LGBT equality use our personal stories to connect an issue on a ballot to real people and their families.

This point may seem obvious to some, but remember it’s hard to come out to strangers. For many LGBT people and allies, it’s gotten easier to say “gay” in familiar circles or in certain areas. But imagine walking up to a total stranger and asking them if they care about the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. Now, imagine calling dozens of strangers and asking them if they plan on supporting ballot measure “X”, the one about the freedom to marry. It’s scary work and it’s the work it takes to win. There are no shortcuts, only vulnerable conversations.

The vulnerability is also what makes campaigns for marriage and nondiscrimination protections transformative. Win or lose, the communities that take on these campaigns grow closer and stronger. We’ve seen it time and time again and that’s why so many of us have dedicated our lives to supporting campaigns for LGBT equality. This is one way we make our communities and country better.

Campaigns aren’t the only way we can improve our communities. While in Washington state, our board members Marsha C. Botzer and Ken Thompson arranged a dinner with friends of the Task Force. Everyone at the table was engaged in work that improved the lives of LGBT people. It was one of those occasions where it was evident that while each of us did different work, we were all on the same team.

How you can get involved:

Join us in this final stretch before the Nov. 6 election by taking a “Volunteer Vacation” to win marriage for same-sex couples! Full details at UnitedforMarriage.org.