Ever since Proposition 8 in California was passed, the news has been dominated with reports of people protesting in front of churches and various other places, stating that they are unhappy with the fact that it was passed. To top it off, there is a plan to have protests at city halls across the country, including in DC, where apparently people will be in front of the Capitol building as well.
That's cute and all, but this really isn't going to do much.
Yeah, I said it, these protests ain't gonna do squat.
To understand why, you have to look at how the No On Prop 8 folks fatally shot themselves in the foot on this issue, leading to it ultimately passing.
A few months ago, Prop 8 was polling with a sizable majority saying that they were against the proposition. So what happened, figuring an easy victory, many of the organizers who were against Prop 8 sat on their laurels and really didn't push to get the word out. After all, California was such a wonderful and liberal state that there was no way that people would turn out and pass Prop 8. Then what happened? Suddenly Prop 8 started polling much closer to the middle, so it was going to be a tight race. What the hell happened that the numbers changed?
You see, while many folks were sitting back when it came to No on Prop 8, the folks who were organizing to vote Yes on Prop 8 were out there working to get their base to vote on it. They were hitting the church-going folks, basically convincing them that Prop 8 was essentially a spiritual issue because it would mean the gays were going to get married, and that was wrong, because God said so according to their belief structure. To top it off, they made it also sound like the church would be forced to change their belief structure to accommodate the same-sex marriages and allow them to be married in a church. "Oh no!" the people cried, "That's sacrilege!" So in their minds, they turned completely for Prop 8. Suddenly the No on Prop 8 folks went "Uh oh, people are turning against us? Why?"
Their fatal mistake? They weren't out there pushing the fact that Prop 8 was never a spiritual issue, it was in fact a civil issue. By the time they woke up and realized what was going on, a good number of people had decided to vote Yes on Prop 8, motivated by what they were being told by friends, family, and clergy that they knew they could trust when it came to spiritual matters. To top it off, I don't think there was much attempted dialogue going on between No on Prop 8 supporters and the churches to get the word out, and to also stop much of the misinformation that was going around. It was those factors that helped create the environment which could allow Prop 8 to pass.
So now where do we stand? People are now walking around in front of Mormon temples protesting. Sure it makes them feel good, but are they really doing anything worthwhile by standing there? All the folks who plan on showing up on Saturday, is it really going to help for you to stand there for a few hours holding a sign? What will you do after the protest? Go out for a few drinks with friends, maybe even go home and watch some TV? Will you even think of Prop 8 after you're done protesting?
My point is, sure you feel good by standing out somewhere and shouting or holding a sign for a few hours, but if you do nothing after that, you're not helping. This needs to go beyond just standing outside. You need to write to your city council, your state legislatures, and your federal congressmen, tell them why you have problems with Prop 8, with the bans on same-sex marriage in your state, why you're against "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act. Go out there and talk to your friends, your family, your clergy, and yes, your congregation, point out that this has always been a civil matter and never a spiritual one. Make your points and get the word out. Consider volunteering some time with organizations that are taking meaningful action to lobby for same-sex marriage rights.
There are so many things you can do that would accomplish so much more than just standing outside and holding up a sign claiming your support. I challenge you to do it.