Day-long workshop event intended to allow organizations to share tools, strategies
Texans voted in favor of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage by a 3-to-1 margin last November. But opponents of the ban learned some valuable lessons during their five-month campaign against the amendment, according to Chuck Smith, deputy director of Equality Texas, the GLBT lobby in Texas.
On Saturday, representatives of groups who aligned with the lobby’s No Nonsense in November campaign against the amendment are gathering in Austin to recap their efforts, share ideas on what worked and strategize for the future, Smith said.
“This is a “‘best practices’ workshop. Each organization will be able to talk about the strategies and tools they used that worked, and what didn’t,” Smith said. “Then each group can take those strategies and tools back home and work out ways to put them to the best use in their own communities.”
The event is presented by the Equality Texas Foundation, the educational arm of the lobby.
“This is not a partisan activity. It is an educational and resource-building activity,” Smith said.
The day-long interactive conference, called “From Nonsense to Equality: The Next Steps,” will address “the full range of issues our organizations are dealing with,” Smith said. It will include panel discussions and workshops to develop specific plans based on hypothetical situations, he said.
“Not every community can be effective in the same ways,” Smith said. “The voters in Austin and in Travis County were the only ones to vote against the marriage amendment last November. And in Dallas, there is a very well-organized and effective LGBT community. In those communities, our organizations and individuals in our community have a certain amount of political power. They have power at the ballot box, and they can have a big impact on who is and is not elected to the Legislature from their area.”
But organizations in other areas, particularly in rural Texas, are not as large. They have less political influence locally and therefore less of an impact on elections, Smith said.
“But that doesn’t mean that they are powerless. There are other issues they can work on, other strategies they can use,” he said.
Smith said that last year’s efforts against the anti-gay-marriage amendment pointed out once again the need for the GLBT community to work in coalition with organizations and individuals with similar goals and perspectives. He said Saturday’s conference would provide opportunities to continue building those vital coalitions.
Among those organizations sending representatives to the conference are Planned Parenthood, People for the American Way and the American Civil Liberties Union, Smith said.
“From Nonsense to Equality: The Next Steps” will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in the auditorium of the Agard Lovinggood Building, on the campus of Houston-Tillotson University in Austin. The university is located at 900 Chicon St., and parking will be available across from the Agard Lovinggood Building, at the corner of East 8th and Chalmers streets.
Admission is free. For more information, call Equality Texas Foundation at 512-474-5475.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of February 3, 2006