“Equality For All” – Central Valley Power Summit

What is activism?  According to Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of activism is as follows:

ac·tiv·ism ( ak t -v z m) NOUN:
The use of direct, often confrontational action, such as a demonstration or
strike, in opposition to or support of a cause.

In a nutshell, that sums up this past weekends Power Summit held at Fresno State
University, put on by Equality California, and the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce.
The summit began on Saturday, July 16th and continued on through Sunday, July 17th.
Fourty-four  individuals from throughout the Central Valley attended Saturdays training,
thirty-two of whom returned on Sunday for the remainder of the conference.  The
conference was an intensive course centered around marriage rights for gay and lesbian
couples as well as the issue of equality in general.

Day one of the conference included 12 hours of rigorous training designed to
prepare the attendees to create strong state and local coalitions and campaigns
designed to create change in a positive way in the community.  There were hours spent
indoors doing training, and in the latter part of the evening, attendees were sent
into the community, asking members of the community if they are for or against
marriage equality for all, and if they were for it, would they be willing to host a "house
party" at their residence.  From what I’ve gathered in talking with individuals in
attendance of this portion of the conference, a house party is a party hosted by
individuals in the community.  It may consist of 30-40 people, 40 being the goal, and
the purpose is to educate the community about same sex marriage, while at the same time,
raising funds to further the fight for marriage legalization for all citizens,
specifically here in California.  Each parties goal is to raise $1000, and I believe
final count of the number of individuals willing to throw such parties tallied around 5
or 6 by the end of the evening.  Not bad for a days work!

On day two of the summit, attendees hit the streets of the community again.
Conference attendees were re-grouped on Sunday morning at the FSU campus and then sent out
door-to-door to talk to members of the community about equality and gay marriage rights
once more. Groups were sent to areas near Fresno State University and south Fresno in
the Tower District.  This time groups were sent out with a list of registered voters
in the areas they were sent to, and instructed to ask voters where they stood in
regards to the marriage equality issue.  Attendees who were sent to the Tower
District report that about 7 in 10 households were pro marriage equality for all Americans.
Numbers for the group sent out near FSU are not known at this time.

This is an exciting time for civil rights in our country.  There is much to
be gained and much that could be lost over the next year or so if we, as a community
don’t rise up and defend our constitutional rights as Americans to be treated in
the same way as any other citizen.  Why shouldn’t our relationships be regarded in
the same manner, with the same respect and reverence as heterosexual couples?  This
is not even a gay rights issue, this is a human rights issue, and it’s time that we
made some noise about it! This brings me back to the beginning of this
article…..

ac·tiv·ism ( ak t -v z m) NOUN:

The use of direct, often confrontational action, such as a demonstration or
strike, in opposition to or support of a cause.

Will those of use who live in the Central Valley and the rest of California
cities, continue to pretend that our rights are not being threatened?  Will we
continue to avoid taking direct, confrontational action to guarantee that our rights
are the same as any other Americans?  It’s time for complacency to cease and
conviction to take over.  Our actions now in regards to this issue and many like it are
setting the precedence for what our country will be like, not only now, but for
years and years to come.

If you’d like more information on how to get involved in activism/marriage
equality in the Fresno and surrounding areas, please contact the site administrator here.

If you’d like to reach the writer of this article, please send comments,
ideas, and suggestions to:  nathan@gayfresno.com

Day One (activist training):
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Day Two (talking to local residents):
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Slade, Activist, ringing doors in Fresno for equality:
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Video Interview with Paul Hogarth of EQCA
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