Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tom Lang of KnowThyNeighbor on the ConCon and Movement

There were lots of reasons to have a little chat with the leader of Knowthyneighbor. For starters, tomorrow is the first Constitutional Convention - and he has a lot of important info regarding the atrocity some people are trying to see unfold in the Bay State. Furthermore, my paper is certainly examining his organization as part of the netroots movement. Lastly, who wouldn't want to talk to a guy who had the brilliant idea to list every single name and address of those who had the audacity to try to write discrimination into the constitution? Some people don't like that kind of aggressiveness, but temerity will never get anyone anywhere.

Besides, people have to be accountable for their actions - they shouldn't be able to sign a petition as if they were an Internet alias. They're not doing some online Harris Poll. This isn't a DailyKos open thread. There are no booths or curtains protecting signature collections, just like there's nothing protecting his efforts. Everyone is open to the criticism of their actions. And actions just so happen to be Lang's specialty.

One interesting thing about Lang is that he really knows his stuff. He's been on the battle ground for years now and spends most of his free time talking to congresspeople, talking to fellow supporters, talking to the media... He's organizing a real grassroots/netroots effort. He's helped sway representatives our way - and had a little advice for people that want to do the same. It's not about the stories - Congresspeople just don't really care. To the surprise of hopefully no one, many of them just care about winning the next election. Sure, they want to do good - but they'll do anything to seek that precise vote that will manage to hopefully piss off the least amount of people in doing so. It's not a bad philosophy, really, except when the "least offensive" vote manages to curtail equality. Then, it becomes unacceptable.

Lang and I talked about the state's more 'conventional' gay-rights organization and its lack of action. According to the director of KnowThyNeighbor, one of the key reasons we haven't seen a repeal of 1913 or a host of other important issues is none other than MassEquality and its allies. Certain people in that organization think that legislators would vote for its repeal and essentially say 'see, I support gay rights,' then not vote against a marriage ban. Does it sound ludicrous to you? It sure did to Lang, who was disappointed in MassEquality's inaction there. I'd say Susan Ryan-Vollmar of Bay Windows would agree, but I'll have to ask her tonight during our LeftAhead podcast. 1913 should have been long gone - something that could have happened by now if instead of being afraid of it, MassEquality pushed it.

Despite their disagreements, Lang agrees with Marc Solomon on one thing. The vote on marriage will be happening far sooner than many wanted or expected, though that's not necessarily a bad thing. It just means we've got to work that much harder now to convince our elected representatives to kill this thing once and for all - and hope the wind is on our side. With any luck, MassEquality and everyone in the glbt movement in Massachusetts will be more organized this time around. We can't afford any confusion - every state rep and senator on our side needs to know exactly what to do and a plan has to be made well in advance.

Speaking of which - there's something everyone is counting on, from Tom Lang and Knowthyneighbor to MassEquality: you. Nothing is going to be defeated if thousands of people aren't calling their elected leaders. So, have readers called their state legislator or senator yet? According to Lang, today is one of the best days to do so - the before day or day of a big vote. Heck, call them today and then tomorrow, just so they know you mean business!

1 comment:

laurel said...

Ryan, I'm glad you added that last paragraph about people getting off their butts and calling their legislators. And I would suggest they also call their friends and MAKE SURE they also cal their legislators.

It is academic at this point which organization has the best strategy, and who has made mistakes. When it comes down to it, anyone relying on an organization to make changes for them ain't too swift. The orgs are necessary, but individual action is essential.

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