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07/12/2011

Counter 7/24? We did, on 6/24!

by Jeremy Hooper

A couple of people have written to ask me about plans to counter protest the National Organization For Marriage and company on 7/24, the day they've planned to take to various NY state sidewalks and picket gay couples' legal lovin'. My reply: There is absolutely no need to do so, because NOM's day-of-history plan is a complete and utter miscalculation that will surely backfire by virtue of its own obtuseness. Of this I am certain.

When the reports go out on that day and the days that follow, the strongest image will be of happily married couples and their supportive families cheering the fact that the state's rich and vibrant LGB population can now utilize the 201107121114freedom to marry without leaving the state. This will quite literally be some people's wedding day, since some city offices plan to open on that Sunday. So the NY media market is going to be flooded with photos of pure joy from people who are either celebrating or closing in on the proverbial "big day." The shots will be emotional, the stories sympathetic -- the end result far more productive for those of us who hope to cut through the opposition movement's wacky portraits of "radical militants" who are "destroying" a scared institution.

The day-of protestors are the true counter protestors here. They have chosen to cast themselves in an undeniably aggressive role -- one part stamping feet over a legislative fight that they lost fair and square, one part spitting on the New York taxpayers who will be utilizing their civil freedoms. I honestly think the effect could come off as Disney-villain-like. At the very least, it will be presented and received in the same antagonistic spirit with which it is being fueled.

And there is no way to even unpack it further and find any kind of merit. Even many of those who loathe same-sex marriage will surely have to see this as an exercise in futility, if nothing else. Because it is. Completely. Futile. Sure, the 5/15 Ruben Diaz rally was incendiary and nasty and divisive (and provided our side with all kinds of lasting, beneficial takeaways). But at least those who showed up were still contending for a possible legislative "victory." Now, that ship has sailed. All that will come from this 7/24 event is the hurtful rhetoric (and again, our side's lasting, beneficial takeaways).

When my husband -- who is much less politically-active than me and who I, for the sake of my own family sanity as well my hubby's enviable and infectious sweetness, deliberately shield from some of this "culture war" minutiae -- first heard of NOM's day-of plans, his instinctive reply was, "Wow, that's kinda Westboro Baptist-like." And while WBC might not be a familiar name to everyone, I truly believe that the great majority of my home state's residents are going to have similar replies. Regardless of what their signs say or what their chants sound like, the fact of the matter is that we are going to have a religious-motivated crowd, out of church on a Sunday, protesting at the doorstep of various civil properties (Gov. Cuomo's Manhattan office, State Capitol in Albany, etc.), using personal faith motivations to wag a very visible finger at marriages that are in no way stifling their own personally-held beliefs. There is simply no way that they will be able to credibly spin this as another example of their own victimization, no matter how loudly they work their ridiculous "let the people vote" claims (in a state with no initiative/referendum, for a matter decided-on by elected reps and singed by an elected gov., in an America that passes laws in this manner).

So should we counter NOM's protest? Oh don't worry -- we are. Every "I do" will ring louder than any clever sign we could concoct; every exchanged ring will photograph with more vibrancy than even our largest chanting crowd.

Break

*NOTE: Although I should say that showing up to cover/film the rally is a completely different story. I'll probably be on hand at the NYC rally to capture at least some of it (when not at the happy buildings), as we certainly need to get these potentially valuable takeaways out there.

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