Anti-Marriage Group Attacks Camp Courage

Note: I’m the Public Policy Director for the Courage Campaign

It was only a matter of time before the Courage Campaign’s success at empowering and organizing a new grassroots movement to win back equal rights got the attention of the folks on the other side.

Last weekend the Courage Campaign hosted Camp Courage Sacramento, the sixth Camp this year. Inspired by the “Camp Obama” trainings that powered neighbor-to-neighbor organizing across America in 2008, Camp Courage is an intensive two-day training designed to teach the principles and skills of community organizing to activists working to restore marriage equality to California. Drawing on techniques honed for decades by progressive social movements, Camp Courage teaches empowerment, team building, leadership development, and grassroots organizing skills. Julia Rosen wrote earlier this week about this experience and  about some of the moving stories told at Camp.

Well, there’s now another story to tell about Camp Courage: it’s gotten the attention of Ron Prentice, the head of and the mastermind of Proposition 8. Prentice used an attack on Camp Courage to motivate his likely-burned out membership to donate to his organization:

That is why it was no surprise to learn that in the wake of what was a crushing defeat, supporters of homosexual marriage wasted no time in dusting themselves off and focusing on a key component of their playbook: the field operations. They held an intensive two-day seminar in Sacramento called Camp Courage to teach the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) community the finer points of community organizing, leadership, grassroots development and team building.  See full story here.

Ironically, that link – which was included in the original email – goes to a blog post by Syd Peterson, one of Courage Campaign’s facilitators at Camp last weekend. The post is a very straightforward discussion of what was discussed at Camp, showing that LGBT activists are normal, sensible, nonthreatening people.

The seminar focused not only on the various tactics of a grassroots and community-based program, but used as a central point the strategy of storytelling. In fact, participants are encouraged to make their personal stories “flexible to fit into a particular situation” and to have more than one “self story” so that they “can select the most effective one to move the person with whom you’re speaking.”

Prentice is being misleading here. By “flexible,” facilitators mean that