This is the first in a blog series about a weekend in the life of Standing on the Side of Love. The series is written by Adam Gerhardstein, Campaign Manager and chronicles the adventures in San Diego between Thursday, February 25th and Sunday, February 28th. The stars of these stories are the people in the pews, who harness love’s power to stop oppression every single day.
I awake at 4:30 AM in Washington, D.C. I brush my teeth, do a quick mental check – passport, phone charger, video camera – got ‘em. Hop in my Prius with the red flames over the wheels and drive to the Baltimore airport. Six very productive hours later (they have internet on planes now!) I’m in San Diego.
Martin Kruming is waiting at the baggage claim for me. I only know him because he told me he’d be wearing a Yankees hat. Martin is passionate about building a network of Unitarian Universalist congregations in the San Diego area to exponentially increase the impact of their social justice work. After I committed to coming to San Diego, Martin ensured that the weekend would be the most action packed and energizing weekend imaginable, both for me and for his fellow San Diego social justice leaders. I was extremely busy working on Valentine’s Day leading up to this trip, so I relied 100% on Martin to arrange my weekends’ activities, accommodations, and transportation. Lucky for me, Martin turns out to be one of the most energetic and talented Unitarian Universalist organizers I’ve ever met, and an incredibly gracious host.
As I’m loading my personal luggage and 44 lbs. of Standing on the Side of Love signs, t-shirts and buttons into his car, I notice that he has some tennis rackets in the trunk. Two hours later I’ve lost three sets, but couldn’t be happier. I’m playing tennis in February!
At 6:30 PM we arrive at First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego for a Marriage Equality Mini-Conference. Jan Garbosky and Jonipher Kwong speak before me, between the two of them marriage might as well give up and start including everyone. It is only a matter of time.
I am nearly moved to tears sitting in a room with people who courageously battled against Proposition 8 and continue the fight today. It is more apparent than ever that California ran their own Standing on the Side of Love campaign more than a year before our now iconic black heart was chalked across a vibrant orange canvas. Californian people of faith sang the hymn and rallied around this message of love throughout the entire Prop 8 campaign. It was an anchor of faith and respect in the midst of a storm.
I address the crowd with the respect, energy and enthusiasm they deserve and that I authentically feel. Afterward, I speak with youth looking to take action, a wedding planner looking for more business, and a slew of passionate advocates. All of them are bubbling with enthusiasm for the work of the campaign. They think it is so cool what the campaign is doing and as I stood there underneath a Standing on the Side of Love banner, hugging people who pounded the pavement during prop 8, I also think it is pretty cool what the campaign, what we, are doing.
I leave the church with Martin at 8:30 PM and on the way to my hotel we stop for delicious Thai food. Martin asks if the owner is there so that he can introduce me, something he will do during that weekend at a Mexican restaurant, a downtown cafe, and a Harley Davidson Store – who doesn’t this guy know!