Back in 2008, in San Diego, during the course of the entire No on 8 campaign, only around 9,000 volunteers took part in the campaign that entire year as we fought to protect our freedom to marry. One of the challenges organizers faced when trying to recruit volunteers was folks claiming, “California is so progressive. This will never pass in California.” We lost that campaign.
Anger surged in our community, and we protested in the streets. The largest post-Prop 8 march in San Diego had an attendance of around 29,000 people. By comparison, 2019’s Pride Festival had just over 50,000 people in attendance, and since 2008 our Parade attendance has varied widely but has been between 100,000 to 350,000 people. My point is that I know our community has more than just those 9,000 volunteers who care deeply about our community. They want a pathway to engage.
Marriage equality in California or across the country wasn’t won just through a few court cases. It was a comprehensive, decades-long movement that involved everyone from grassroots organizers to elected officials, organizations, and businesses fighting for what was right.
We leveraged emerging social media to mobilize around traditional field-organizing tactics. We wrote op-eds and used earned media as a tool for public education. We took to the streets and the bars to inform our own community, recruit volunteers, and raise funds. Drag queens hosted phone banks, and interfaith leaders led protest marches. Trans and nonbinary people applied for marriage licenses and were denied in front of news cameras. It took every person in our community and our allies bringing their unfettered wisdom and innovative approaches to the movement to help us win that battle. The fight continues.
While we live in a state with wonderful protections for our community, the rest of the country is not so lucky, but we have the opportunity and the ability to impact public sentiment and the lived experience of our community by engaging in the fight in whatever manner best suits our individual strength. Complacency in the face of fascism and hundreds of anti-LGBTQ initiatives across the country is not an option. Within the marriage equality movement, we called ourselves Love Warriors. We are needed again. All of us are, and Together We Rise.
Fernando Zweifach López
San Diego Pride
P.S. Help us turn out the LGBTQ vote this primary and election season by volunteering with our Vote With Pride program.