My Reflections on Tuesday's Prop 8 Ruling

Nelson Layag

Tuesday's ruling on Prop 8 makes me reflect on how proud  I am of the work we do and how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with all the folks at CompassPoint and in the community. As an organization, we’ve boldly stated that we WILL achieve social equity together and a moment like this brings to light how important the work is. 

While the fight isn’t over, this was a major victory.  It made me think of something that NAACP CEO Ben Jealous emphasized in 2009 during his Nonprofit Day keynote speech – essentially, the victories in a movement are only possible because those before us took action – he likened it to toppling dominos – that each step will knock down another barrier to the ultimate goal. 

I remember at that same Nonprofit Day, there was a panel about the “new way” of organizing that roundly criticized mainstream nonprofits for being ineffective in mobilizing the campaign against Prop 8.  A panelist in the session hinted that with the advent of social media, movement building was best left to the unhindered masses and organizations were too slow and structured to lead them.  In contrast, this past year, as we worked on our Theory of Change and our messaging, the one word that I love the most is the word “together.”  Not one person, or group, or organization does this alone. Having just recently read a great short post by Rinku Sen, the Executive Director of Applied Research Center, about movements and organizations (focused on the Occupy Movement), watching the Susan Komen Foundation  fiasco unfold, and reflecting back at the efforts over the past 20 years around marriage equality confirms that our efforts to  create “powerful networks and team” (just lifted that  from our TOC) as well as to strengthen leaders and organizations put us in an important role. While this judgment was a “gigantic domino” it brings to focus why fostering the development of leaders in our community continues to be of utmost importance.  There’s still more work to be done and more dominos to fall.

-Nelson Layag, Project Director

P.S. This sparked a memory from 1997 – having just decided to get married and learning about all the “rights” you get when you get married (my fiancée and I were tinkering with the idea of not getting a marriage license), I remember having a discussion in the kitchen of our 706 Mission office with my colleague Steve Lew on how crazy it was that  same-sex marriage wasn’t legal (Clinton had just signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996). I loved that I worked somewhere where we can have serious social change discussions over coffee (and of course silly ones too).  

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