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What can you do?

Fired up about President Bush's endorsement of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage? Want to know how to help stop the president and his far-right cronies? Go ahead and write your congresspeople--but then take it a step further, say two Washington, D.C., activists.

"No one put Rosa Parks on the bus," says longtime gay rights activist David Mixner. "She just refused to get up on her own. We must do the same thing all over the country. To sit quietly while the president presents an amendment that technically is apartheid for gays and lesbians is just no longer an option."

Mixner encourages all gay and lesbian people to volunteer their time and give money to gay rights organizations; connect with local activists and start a campaign to pressure lawmakers to vote against the amendment; and don't just vote, get others to the polls.

It's even more important, he says, to make the issue personal for everyone you know. Start an e-mail tree that explains how this affects your life and urge your friends and relatives to pass it on to their friends and relatives, "Collect pictures of [same-sex] couples who have families in your communities and create community bulletin boards with a wall of photos," Mixner says.

Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, agrees that making it personal is the most powerful tool we have. "The hardest thing many of us will ever have to do is to ask our friends, our family, and our coworkers to take a stand against this amendment," he says. "We so rarely ask the people we know to do anything on behalf of our civil rights, But if there ever was a moment to do so, it's now."

Before you get into discussions with family, friends, and others, however, know the issues. When someone brings up polygamy, what do you say? If someone asks you what rights you can't get with civil unions, will you be able to tell them? Go to www.advocate.com or to the Web sites of the leading activist groups and get your talking points.--John Caldwell

Quittner has written for Business Week and the New York Post.
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Title Annotation:Same-sex marriage
Author:Caldwell, John
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 30, 2004
Words:368
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