In this election, like so many others before it, the call from the pulpit was clear: We must stop the gays. As millions of gays and lesbians had their hearts broken, some religious leaders rejoiced in that suffering. The Rev. James Garlow, senior pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego County, told the New York Times “It was a great victory. We just saw the people rise up.”
It’s time for all of us to rise up like thousands are doing now in the Golden State and elsewhere.
We are tired of defeat, token change, defending ourselves against charges of moral inferiority, and being told to “wait” in the land we love while liberation occurs in other countries. Martin Luther King, Jr. acknowledged that real change takes time; yet he also warned against the “tranquilizing drug of gradualism” and instructed the oppressed to demand equality now – not on the convenient time schedule of those doing the oppressing.
Nonviolent direct action strategies such as marches, vigils, demonstrations, boycotts, public protests, and civil disobedience, seek to create what Dr. King called “healthy tension.” This constructive nonviolent tension forces those who perpetuate injustice, and society as a whole, to pause, reflect, and consider the ugliness of their prejudices and the indecency embodied in their discrimination. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Dr. King wrote: “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.” Public protests empower us and educate those who are still the victims of fear and division.
It’s imperative that we remain nonviolent in our approach. Although it may provide short term emotional release, it’s ultimately counterproductive to scream expletives at those who have harmed us. We must refrain from damaging property or trying to destroy the character of others and instead approach those who promote discrimination in a spirit of nonviolence. As both Gandhi and King taught, we must avoid violence of the fist, tongue, and heart and remember that in truth we are challenging unjust systems, not people. In due course, we seek to be in community with those from whom we currently find ourselves divided.
So, start organizing now. Don’t wait on an LGBT rights group to take the lead. Most of the protests in California were organized by just a handful of people. You can do it too. Imagine the productive conversations around America’s dinner tables if the evening news was flooded with coverage of peaceful marches in the other 29 states that ban marriage equality.
by Soulforce Executive Director Jeff Lutes at 365Gay.com: Time to Take It to the Streets
Don’t forget the national day of protests against Prop 8 is this Saturday, Nov. 15. Get involved and stand up for your rights!