Friday, Apr. 19, 2019

United for Marriage Rally- Online Organizing Done Right

By Dave Leichtman · April 17, 2013

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Marriage equality for LGBT couples is, and always has been, my "#1 issue." I think what's always angered me is the sheer injustice of anyone in this country - a country that purports to be the greatest in the world - being treated as anything less than fully equal.

In case you haven’t been watching the news (or listening to the radio, or talking around the water cooler, or reading your Twitter feed), this week, the justices of the Supreme Court heard two cases related to gay rights- challenges to California's Proposition 8 and 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (NPR has a special series explaining it all if you need the details). It's been decades since two such significant issues have come before the U.S. Supreme Court, and almost never before back-to-back.

With such landmark cases before the court, it was a natural opportunity for equal rights activists to gather and show their support. So yesterday, I joined my friends at Salsa to head down to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to attend the United for Marriage Rally- a coalition project coordinated by our client GetEQUAL along with several other high-profile organizations such as Human Rights Campaign (see the full list of coalition participants). We love supporting our clients' missions, and never so much as yesterday. We were thrilled to lend our voice to this growing chorus .

From a professional perspective, I have to give credit to United for Marriage. They launched a microsite to help people find information about the D.C. rally, or others across the country. In addition, they offered the Organizing Toolkit, which included messaging on marriage equality, tips for organizing and marketing local events and even a template letter to the editor for those who wanted to establish their own local rally. By providing information to empower supporters, United for Marriage expanded their reach from one D.C.-based event to a national movement.

This has also been a triumph for online organizing- it’s gone from a coalition effort to something everyone, everywhere is noticing. Maybe you’re like my aunt, who emailed me last night thinking something was wrong with her Facebook account because everyone's profile pic had turned into a red square with white lines (aka the HRC logo in red in honor of the court hearings). To me, this signals a huge victory in terms of awareness- when ordinary people take notice, it means the message is successfully spreading and the audience is building. When the general population takes notice, not only do you grow your supporter base, you can also begin to affect real change in this country.

And that's what we've seen this week. Groups like HRC and Freedom to Marry have capitalized on supporters' desire to express their pride in their cause to their social circles, and the effect couldn't be more apparent. Ask yourself, is there anyone in your social circles who didn't know about this rally yesterday? Did any one of you not have at least one friend tweeting or posting pics to Facebook from the Supreme Court?

At Salsa, we're excited to witness this bit of history, and we're thrilled to see how effortlessly our clients and their supporters can spread their message online. We're also grateful to be able to play a part in that, however small. If you’re interested in learning more about how to harness the power of online advocacy, you should read our e-book, The Essential Guide to Online Advocacy for Nonprofits. You also might be interested in the new GrowYourBase.org website, an educational effort produced by Salsa that helps nonprofits learn how to grow and engage their base of support.

Dave Leichtman,
Salsa, Vice President, Client Services

Dave has extensive experience with online communities, project development and a wide-ranging technical background – having previously worked on the 2008 Obama Campaign and for multiple tech companies in various roles including Director of Training and Community. Dave’s team is responsible for all client-facing support of Salsa Labs products. He has been very active in Virginia politics holding roles within several Democratic organizations. He holds a B.S. in physics, computer science, and mathematics from William & Mary, and a M.S. in physics from the University of Washington. Dave loves his family, Democratic politics, beer, and particle physics - in that order.

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