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Another Proposal for Civil Disobedience

Jim Burroway

June 17th, 2009

I am whelmed — not overwhelmed or underwhelmed — with the idea of marching on Washington. Dan Savage calls himself an “agnostic” over it — not for or against it either way. But he does have another suggestion:

Here’s the idea: one gay or lesbian couple—a couple currently denied their rights under DOMA—shows up at the entrance to the White House grounds. A different couple every day. They ask to speak to the president about DOMA. They’re refused. They sit down. They refuse to leave. They’re arrested, carried away by the police. Couples would be recruited from all over the country, demonstrating that gay marriage isn’t just an issue in liberal California or godless New England, and the media in each couple’s home city and state would be notified in advance of their arrest. The occasional famous couple—Rosie and Kelli? Ellen and Portia?—would participate to pull in celeb media. But most of the couples who come to D.C. to get arrested would be average folks. The couples would need support, legal and logistical, and we would need someone to organize media outreach and maintain a website. The website would include a photo and profile of each couple that comes to D.C. to get arrested, collect all the press, and be used to recruit couples willing to travel to D.C. and get arrested.

The action would be small scale—it would be human scale—and it would go on and on and on. It would demonstrate better than another gay march just how seriously we take this issue: we take it seriously that we’re willing to travel to D.C. and get arrested. It wouldn’t be a one-day event that the White House could ignore or bluff its way through with some lame statement about its “commitment” to ending DOMA. The couples would keep coming. Every day an arrest. Drip, drip, drip. Members of the White House press corps would see couples getting arrested every day on their way to work. Gibbs would be forced to address DOMA on a near-daily basis. The president would be asked about the issue again and again.

My boyfriend—who doesn’t do demonstrations (or interviews or photos or anything public)—is so upset about the DOMA brief that he’s willing to go to D.C. and get arrested. So am I. We can’t be the only couple that feels this way.



Rev Ray Thompson
June 17th, 2009 | LINK

Not going to work. We do not need sacrificial lambs. We need action, nonviolent civil disobedience. It is time to develop some gonads and let them know just how mad we are!

Emily K
June 17th, 2009 | LINK

Does it have to be couples? I’m single, but I want to do something. Could I go to the White House by myself, or with a good friend who’s also gay?

Jason D
June 17th, 2009 | LINK

I think this is a great idea, and it would be even better if the couples got dressed up as IF they were getting married by the president.

Matt Algren
June 17th, 2009 | LINK

Honestly, it rings of PR stunt. The press and the President would pretty easily ignore this after day one.

Worse, it’s pretty exclusive, as single folks and couples who don’t want to get married or believe in civil marriage aren’t welcome.

It’s a nice try, and brainstorming is important, but this one’s a dud.

June 17th, 2009 | LINK

I love the idea. So long as it’s kept to average couples (for greatly the most part), I think it sends a fantastic message.

CB James
June 18th, 2009 | LINK

I also love this idea. I think it’s an act that would have legs. A march, no matter how big, is only in the news for a day. This would happen day after day, could make the news for several days and when it falls out of the news, a celebrity arrest would put it back in the news.

I bet we could end up with celebrity straight couples like Brad and Angelina.

But, keep in mind that the White House is federal property. Any crime committed there, even trespassing, is a federal offense, right. And I worry that this could fall under anti-terrorism laws as well.

It sounds like a harmless demonstration, but it could get ugly for those involved.

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