Reading blogs and comments, reactions to our set-back in Illinois are not as diverse as the equality campaign could have been.
The “consensus” seems to be:
- Representative Harris should have called for a vote and;
- The African-American community stabbed us in the back.
The first of these is easy to address. Presumably, by not calling for a vote without sufficient support for passage, the bill is preserved as pending. The bill can be brought up for passage in the fall session. Had the bill been defeated, the process would have to begin anew.
With respect to the black community, nearly five years ago I wrote about Proposition 8 on Pam’s House Blend. This cranky Jewish queer said then what I am going to say now; Lack of support from the black community represents our failure in outreach. Our community has proportionate minority constituencies. Yet we suck at leveraging our own resources.
Furthermore, much like in Prop 8, we seem to have abdicated personal responsibility by relying solely on a campaign of lawyers and media consultants. What happened in states where we have been successful is that we generated a genuine grassroots campaign of individuals persuading other individuals.
Much like in Prop 8, lawyers (in this case ACLU and Lambda Legal) seem to have run this campaign in conjunction with Equality Illinois. The lawyers lost. Shocking, I know. Evan Wolfson (Freedom to Marry) is also an attorney, and a good one. However, he built an organization that is not staffed by lawyers and that is one of the reasons that Freedom to Marry has been so successful.
It’s irrelevant. Pointing fingers at Illinois Unites is not only counter-productive but unwarranted. We can only blame ourselves for a failure to act as a community and individually.
As I wrote, earlier today, this is just a temporary setback. That makes it even more important to coalesce as a community. This is not the time to fragment what should be our fellowship. Channeling W. Edwards Deming, this is a time for constancy of purpose.