Editor's Note: Guest Blogger Barbara McCullough-Jones is Executive Director of Equality Arizona. A native of Seattle, Barbara first arrived in Arizona in 1989 and has since enjoyed nearly 20 years working in the LGBT movement. Barbara has received numerous honors and awards throughout her career. In 1994 she became the first out lesbian to run for political office in the State of Arizona with her run for Tempe City Council.
This is a question I am asked nearly every day from folks in Arizona and from folks around the country. They ask questions like how much support came from outside Arizona in 2006? Will anyone outside of Arizona give money this time to defeat Prop 102? Will anyone inside Arizona give money? How do you feel about so much money going to California? What about Florida? Can Arizona win this one too? Do you feel abandoned by those supporting California especially but also Florida since Arizona is the only state in the nation to defeat an anti-marriage amendment?
There is no easy answer to any of those questions. Frankly, I'm not sure there is value in even trying to come up with an answer. I do believe however, the real value lies in the fact that we are even having this discussion. Internal and external to Arizona.
In an odd way it shows people care. They care enough about Arizona's contribution to the movement to worry whether we might be slighted financially in this campaign season. They care enough about our statewide LGBT infrastructure to be concerned we are not damaged in the process - at least hopeful that we might escape long term or irreparable damage.
Instead of answering those questions with only the "what's in front of us" view, I prefer to answer from a 30,000 foot perspective. That means we have to look at our work as a marathon and not a sprint. It means we cannot be angry or feel slighted by donors who, from their own perspective, believe their need and desire to participate in the movement, to make a difference, is best served by giving to a campaign that in their opinion would provide the greatest impact to achieving equality - to meeting their personal political goals. Because we all come from different backgrounds, different economies, different cultural experiences, no one has any right to pass judgment on another for the decisions we make in political giving. Sometimes those decisions are very personal, sometimes they are just hard core strategic moves and sometimes they are the simplicity of altruism.
The higher ground at 30,000 feet allows us to let wash beneath our feet the hardness created by politics - in a way it is cleansing. Don't think for a minute though that coming down from the high ground to do the work is easy. But we have to have a place to land. Something you can touch, hear and believe in. For me that place is community - it is the work. It is the very place where we interact with one another on a very human and hopefully humanitarian level. It is that place that sometimes stinks, sometimes is so loud with opposing voices you can't hear yourself think and on occasion calls into question our belief in that very humanity we seek to be a part of.
Over the past several weeks in particular we have been fighting a battle that stems from the worst display of disintegration of democracy I have ever witnessed. We are fighting with every tool at our disposal to call out those who would seek to limit the fullness of our lives in order to advance their own.
Amidst our ongoing Senate debacle we have organized and are executing our 2008 elections strategy; we have organized a Statewide Coordinated Campaign to defeat Prop 102; and we continue to build the capacity of Equality Arizona - design and deliver programs that change hearts and minds while also managing a hard-hitting public affairs agenda to change public policy.
We need a win in California. We need a win in Florida. We need a win in Arizona. That very trifecta has the potential to change the face of American politics. Just for clarification, "trifecta" as a slang term is used to describe any successful or favorable phenomenon or characteristic that comes in threes (according to Wikipedia). That's what our national agenda should be about.
There is often much angst about coastal states dictating what happens to the rest of the country but today, we need to support our coasts! And yes, tucked into the Southwest - in a place in mid-August where you're sure you're already doing time in purgatory - we WILL continue to do our part to advance equality - to contribute to the greater good of our great state and our nation.
Do we want and need your contributions? Yes! Not at the exclusion of California or Florida but in addition too. Just do it. Don't hesitate, don't even blink.
Just write the checks- address one to California, one to Florida and one to Arizona and sign them simply... from one who cares.