Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Changing the Future

The Rev. Dr. Caroline Hall
President, Integrity USA

Ok, I admit it, I’m all fired up. The HRC gave us a great line-up of speakers on Monday. I wasn’t really looking forward to it, but it turned out to be a great way to jump start some thinking about what us Integrity-ites are doing, and why. Yesterday morning, political scientist Melissa Harris-Perry challenged us to think about all the places where there is inequality. When transgender youth are the most likely to suffer homelessness and there is precious little protection for any of us LGBT when we apply for housing, why she asked, are we so concerned about gay marriage? Now my push-back on that is that the marriage debate is amazingly culture changing and ultimately will make everything else better. Maybe, maybe not. But here’s something for us to think about at the local level… what, other than gay marriage, are the issues that really matter to LGBGIQ people? Where do we need to be making a difference?

As Episcopalians we know that God is calling us to work for fairness and equality not just in the church but in the secular world as well. Yesterday the Governor of Tennessee signed an anti-gay law which limits cities and counties from preventing more discrimination against LGBT than state law provides. Ouch! Any reduction in our equality hurts – how can the rest of us assist our Integrity members in Tennessee to regroup and work to expand the state law?

The afternoon was led by Beth Zemsky who gave us a quick overview of Social Movements. According to Zemsky the argument of civil rights was most powerful in the late 1960s and has it run its course –it’s like over, totally. No retro thinking allowed… but Zemsky doesn’t know what the new paradigm is, what language we can use to frame our agenda today. Now I’ve heard other speakers argue that Obama nailed it with “Together, We Can.” Zemsky is certainly thinking along those lines as she says the new language will be intersectional (how do we imagine the “we”?), interconnecting and interdependent.

According to Zemsky the way to build movement power is to (1) organize and wage campaigns, (2) build an infrastructure and (3) develop, promote and disseminate a worldview. But because it’s time to build a new movement using new language and finding new ways to talk about equality, we have three (clearly this woman thinks in threes!) strategic tasks (a)reframing our worldview (b) reframing collective identity and (c) base building.

So I guess that pretty much sets the agenda for Integrity for the next eighteen months. If you have ideas about how we can reframe our worldview and our collective identity, and improve our base building, I’d love to hear from you.

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