Last week, the Human Rights Campaign convened a gathering of leaders from the five states which had marriage on the ballot either this fall or last spring. I had the honor of representing Jewish Community Action at the two day faith debrief in Washington DC last week. The experience was both affirming of our work in Minnesota and eye opening, learning about the efforts in the four other states. Washington State had a faith cabinet, Maryland had courageous leaders from the Baptist church speaking out for marriage equality, and Catholics for Marriage equality were central in each of the campaigns. Our effort to defeat both hurtful amendments was unique and was lifted up as a major accomplishment and the right way to create bridges between communities.
In all of these efforts, four states being victorious, faith had a central role. We were fortunate that Minnesotans United for All Families, the umbrella organization that organized the fight to defeat the marriage amendment, included faith leaders in creating the strategic plan from the start. We were architects in the plan and JCA had a seat at the table. In other states, faith had to fight to get a seat, but in Minnesota we were invited and the Jewish community jumped in with both feet.
The keys to success were the intentional conversations, being positive and having the autonomy to make sure that every faith community had the room to make the message culturally competent. These conversations were the vehicles to creating partnerships, straight and gay, Christian and Jewish, young and old. These partnerships will be the basis of the work ahead.
At the gathering, Marty Rouse, National Field Director of the Human Rights Campaign, led a session on what is next for 2013. Minnesota was one of the states on the radar for marriage equality for this coming year. I hope we can transform our NO conversations into efforts at the legislature to push for a YES for marriage for ALL in Minnesota.
Photo caption: The Minnesota faith team at the Human Rights Campaign Washington D.C. offices, December 3-4, 2012, debriefing our victory with the four other states who had marriage on the ballot on November 6th. Jewish Community Action organizer Adele Brown is third from the left.