Yeah, I typed it big because that headline made my day and it deserves to be read large and loud. The article from 365gay.com surprised and inspired me with the story of how one of NOM's organizers came around to support marriage equality.
"Louis Marienelli, a key organizer for the National Organization for Marriage who coordinated NOM’s summer anti-gay marriage tour last year, drove the RV and blogged for it , now says he’s for marriage equality."
AND he's being vocal about it !!!!!!!! YAY !!!!!!!! it's almost enough to bring a happy tear to my eye :-)
Granted this Louis Marienelli is far from informed ally status, he thinks homosexuality could be a mental disorder........BUT, listen to these next quotes where he talks about the counter protesters he encountered during the NOM Bus tour....and then just try not to say AWWWWWW!
“The NOM showing in the heart of the Bible-belt was dismal and the hundreds of counter-protesters who showed up were nothing short of inspiring."
“Even though I had been confronted by the counter-protesters throughout the marriage tour, the lesbian and gay people whom I made a profession out of opposing became real people for me almost instantly. For the first time I had empathy for them and remember asking myself what I was doing.”
I think he deserves A LOT of recognition from the LGBTQ community because what he did takes a significant amount of guts, especially from someone in his position. Admitting you were wrong is never easy, but doing it in such a public way (when there's nobody forcing you to) is really really brave.
An important thing to take away from this article is the power that EXPOSURE can have on a person's heart and mind. Many people have never even met a gay couple prior to forming their opinions on gay marriage. Out on the NOM tour across America Marienelli encountered real people with real emotions tied to their inability to marry the one's they love....that experience of exposure to the other side obviously made a big difference.
Reading this article reminded me of John Corvino, an amazing activist, author, and columnist on 365gay.com who came and spoke to our Peers for Pride class this semester. As we all sat and drooled over his incredible amount of smarts and general smoking hotness, he talked about going and having drinks with his most outspoken critics. John told us how important it is to genuinely understand your opposition and to keep your friends close and your enemies closer, as the expression goes. I can't help but wonder if John or another equality supporter might have taken Marienelli out for drinks after a long day on the road, or helped him change a flat tire or given him driving directions. I think sometimes it's simple acts of kindness from the people you are fighting against that have more power to change a heart than the strongest most fool proof argument or piece of evidence out there.
No matter what (or who) it was that finally convinced Marienelli to support equality, I'm thankful that he is now on our side. I hope that his courage and story will inspire others and lead to more vocal allies in communities all across the country.
Read the article and "share" it on Facebook if it moves you. Maybe the main stream media will eventually pick it up and reach even more people.
And to Louis Marienelli I say THANK YOU for your courage to do the right thing.