The Courage Campaign, the California-based LGBT online organizing network which has been a force in the battle against Prop 8 and other initiatives, jumped into the controversy surrounding Freedom to Marry, the group leading the fight nationally for marriage equality, calling the focus of Freedom to Marry’s latest effort “misplaced.”
Freedom to Marry came under intense criticism from some activists in recent weeks after the group announced its Win More States Fund, an effort to raise $3 million for fights in Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Washington. Activists charged that missing from the list of states was Maryland, where a bill granting marriage equality and signed by the governor will be challenged in a ballot measure in November, and North Carolina, where an amendment is on the ballot next month to ban gay marriage and civil unions in the state constitution.
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, defended the group’s actions, appearing on my radio program on SiriusXM OutQ two weeks ago: “This was not about abandoning [Maryland and North Carolina].And it was not about saying what people were doing on the ground [in those states] was not important. We have never said they’re not winnable or the money is not well spent. What we are saying is here are five battleground opportunities where we are putting our fight. Others are taking the lead in other places. We alone can’t do everything."
Adam Bink, Director of Online Programs at the Courage Campaign, responded to Wolfson’s defense, appearing on my radio program this week: “I have all the respect in the world for Evan, but I think some of the focus may be misplaced. In North Carolina, you know, Election Day is about a month away. It’s [about] discrimination against not just marriage, but civil unions are banned. Domestic partnerships are banned, for same-sex couples and opposite sex couples. It really relegates same-sex couples, especially, to second class citizenship in the most hurtful way possible. In Maryland, we have a battleground shaping up for November. So it's a question of priorities and where the focus is.”
Bink attributed decisions to leave out Maryland and North Carolina to “conventional wisdom in DC and New York,” based on a snapshot in time.
“You look at a poll and a day on a calendar, you look on a map and say, 'Oh that it’s not winnable,'” he said. “I think it’s wrong. The polling in North Carolina shows that while a majority supports Amendment One, an overwhelming majority doesn’t support it when you tell them what it does. There are a lot of reasons why progressives and pro-equality voters will be going to vote on May 8. If you just look at North Carolina and think, 'Oh it’s too southern,' [well], North Carolina went blue for Barrack Obama in 2008. North Carolina is the only state without a constitutional amendment [banning gay marriage.] North Carolina is one of the only states in the south to have protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The thought that they’ll lose, it’s not quite right. There’s a big window of opportunity.”
Listen to the full interview below: