Speaking of Women's Rights: The Power of a Conversation

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Power of a Conversation

by Laurie Carlsson

You know what a voter said to me the other night during a phone bank?  “My niece is a lesbian and she’s never once told me that marriage matters to her.”  How often do we take for granted that people know where we stand on things?  We assume that because our neighbors know that we’re a gay or lesbian couple, they must know that being able to get married is important to us.  People tell me “everyone I know is supportive of marriage equality.”  This is statistically impossible.  Recent polling tells us that 30%of King County residents do not support marriage equality.  How many in this 30% might be your neighbors, your coworkers, and possibly even your friends?  

Peters Consulting found an interesting statistic last year:  Only 34% of voters who have never had a conversation about marriage equality support it.  In contrast, 56% of voters who have had a discussion about marriage equality with a straight person support it.  The number is increased to a whopping 69% for voters who have had a discussion about marriage equality with an LGBT person.   The movement toward marriage equality in Washington State is goingto be won through dialogue – conversations with the people in our lives, whether they’re close friends, family, or strangers.  We’ve heard the “journey” story over and over in the past few years, from our Governor, to our President, from State Representatives, to State Senators.  People are moving toward support of marriage equality because of conversations they’re having with the people in their lives.  You know what that means?  That means that you and I and every single proponent of equality has got to speak up and be that person who helps people along their paths toward support of the freedom to marry for all Washingtonians.

Whether you’re part of the LGBT community or a straight ally, your voice is important.  What we’ve found moves people toward support is hearing the stories of others.  Whether it’s the story of a lesbian coworker and her loving partner who deserve to have their relationship recognized, or the story of a straight Catholic ally who wasn’t always so accepting, people need to be able to see themselves in the stories of others.  

As part of the Pride Foundation “Hearts and Minds” campaign – an effort to support those who want to reach out to the people in their community and hold conversations around marriage equality – Legal Voice is hosting a Familiesfor Equality workshop this Monday, August 6th from 6:00-7:30.  Join us in learning how you can be an integral part of this historic effort.  It really is as easy as sharing your story. 

Laurie Carlsson is Family Outreach Specialist at Pride Foundation.  She is currently working to support communities in their efforts to hold open dialogue around marriage equality.