(Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton with friend and LGBT/civil rights activist David Mixner at an ANGLE fundraiser for the presidential candidate in 1991. Photo by Karen Ocamb)
Longtime LGBT activists David Mixner and Cleve Jones have penned a joint op-ed in The Advocate for “A Call to Action” at the end of March as the Supreme Court hears arguments in cases challenging the constitutionality of Prop. 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. Mixner has a very long history as a civil rights organizer: from advocating for Martin Luther King Jr. at age 14 to becoming a leader of the anti-Vietnam War movement—which is when he met Oxford Rhodes Scholar Bill Clinton, a fellow supporter of Eugene McCarthy. Mixner came out as gay to the Clintons in 1977 as he was working with gay activists throughout the state—including Harvey Milk in San Francisco—to stop Anita Bryant and defeat the Briggs Initiative. As the movie Milk poignantly points out, Cleve Jones also worked with Milk on that battle—and went on to create the national AIDS Memorial Quilt, as well as work on behalf of the UNITE HERE union. In 2009, Cleve and Get Equal activist Robin McGehee organized a march on Washington—in which David participated and with which I ardently disagreed.
This time, however, I think they are right on target. Here’s an excerpt from David and Cleve’s op-ed, with suggestions on how you can become an activist in your own backyard:
The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the two marriage equality cases on March 26 and 27. Many people have asked us what the community should do as we approach this remarkable milestone in history. Some have suggested a march on Washington. Others have called for local vigils. Some are already engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience.
We have discussed this with some of the smartest and most dedicated activists we know, and, based on those conversations, we offer the following recommendations for action as the Court considers our aspirations for equality.
We do not believe it makes sense to attempt a mass march on Washington at this moment, given the short amount of time remaining, the cost, as well as the uncertainty of weather in Washington, D.C,. in March. We do believe it makes sense to push hard on many fronts in the weeks and months ahead.
As we are on the verge of victory, our tone and actions are critical.
President Obama himself set the tone for this effort in his Inaugural Address when he spoke so movingly of Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall, linking forever the struggles for women’s rights, civil rights and LGBT rights. We encourage all LGBT advocates and all fair-minded Americans who believe in equality and justice to take part in public actions during the last week of March.
Please click over to David Mixner’s blog for the “how-to” portion of the op-ed.