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03/13/2012

But first: A toast to the archivists/workhorses/game changers

by Jeremy Hooper

An insider who would know such things once told me that the major players within the "pro-family" movement have little to low to no regard for the netroots activists who monitor their work. This is someone who's well connected (if a bit of a mole) who told me this. He said that even though staffers will sometimes get upset about this post or that piece of pushback, the general view is that those of us who spend time tracking the professional proponents of this anti-LGBT "culture war" are really just talking to each other, with the work making little national impact.

My response when I hear this: "Let them underestimate us." Because the truth is that online activists have been making considerable rain in this movement. Heavy rain. Lasting rain. Sometime it's apparent, with certain stories hitting the national, mainstream news cycle. Other times it's more underground, with certain factoids and figures making their way into campaign strategy or legislative conversation. But whatever the footprint, few with an informed ear to the ground would deny the ability of a brain and a keyboard to turn a spark into a flame.

Although I actually think both of these, the apparent headlines and the quiet strategy, are of less lasting importance than the daily, major contribution that comes from simply archiving this stuff. In an earlier day, when communication networks were more pulp-based and data collection more Xeroxed, those who fight against certain kinds of citizens could say their pieces, gather their needed support, then move on with whatever public face they knew would seem more palatable. And forget about something like conservative radio. Back in the day, one would have to have both a long antenna and a handy tape recorder to make even a passable recording of a nasty soundbite. Much got lost. Undeserved passes abounded.

But now? Now we have a team of principled folks who are digging and storing and HTMLing it all. This invaluable resource has provided immeasurable benefit, truly changing this LGBT/anti-LGBT debate. Now, when a Peter Sprigg goes before a state legislative body or on a cable network, many of us remember back to when he said "he'd prefer to export homosexuals from the United States." When Maggie Gallagher speaks at a campaign rally and pretends to be opposing civil marriage equality for same-sex couples, we can easily present an audio clip where she admits she bases her work on a religious sin model, which she applies to both gays and their supporters. Or when a group like the Maryland Marriage Alliance pushes a presentation by David Barton, we can ask, "Oh, you mean the guy who says that voting for LGBT-friendly lawmakers will 'kill the blessing' of this nation?" Etc, etc.

I'm not even sure the other side realizes how much this stuff is changing things, how lasting this whole Internet thing really is, or how ready those of us on the side of equality are to make use of our best resource: Their own words.


But they will. More tomorrow morning.

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