Creating Change: Minnesota and Beyond

Yesterday in Minneapolis kicked off the annual National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change, run by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Freedom to Marry staffers are joining more than 2,500 advocates for LGBT issues who are there to work on organizing, leadership, and political skills. This year's event is the biggest since it started in 1988.

Freedom to Marry is running sessions on the current state of the marriage movement and how to go forward, messaging for persuading people who are unsure about the issue, and a breakdown on polling strategy.

Host-state Minnesota was the first in America to pass a nondiscrimination law covering sexual orientation, back in 1974 – but now there is a law banning gay couples from getting married, and there's concern that an anti-marriage amendment may soon be introduced.

Minnesotans John Rittman and Tom Trisko have been together for 37 years, and got married in Canada in 2005. In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, they described a grim wake-up call about how devastating marriage discrimination can be for committed and loving gay couples. A friend had died, but the hospital couldn't release the body to his partner of 40 years.

"They had to call a distant cousin who lives in England who didn't even know that Frank had cancer, [or] was in a hospital," Rittman said. "And David the whole time is standing there holding Frank's dead hand, crying. They didn't do it to be nasty. They did it because of legal requirements."

Now John and Tom are part of a lawsuit challenging the Minnesota marriage ban. Couples like them will certainly be on people's minds at Creating Change.

Listen to an interview with John and Tom here:


Here's the info on the sessions that Freedom to Marry is running at the conference:

Roadmap to Victory: How We'll Win the Freedom to Marry Nationwide
Friday, February 4th, 9-10:30am
Evan Wolfson, Sean Eldridge, and key leaders from the Freedom to Marry staff discuss the current landscape of the marriage movement, and how the Roadmap to Victory points us forward.

Here's How Marriage Matters: Tools and Messaging Training for Marriage Education
Friday, February 4th 3-6:15pm
Thalia Zepatos and key leaders from across the movement, preview the first-ever national public education campaign on marriage, Why Marriage Matters.  The workshop will cover how and why the campaign was developed, and all of the great messaging tools that now exist including television ads, handouts, talking points, and so much more! Attendees will have the opportunity to sign-on as partners of this national campaign, and receive free resources at the workshop.

The Joys and Challenges of Polling
Saturday, February 5th 9-10:30am
Join key leaders and pollsters to learn more about the best way to get what you want when performing research. We will walk through everything from how to find the right pollster for you, when to use the different methods of research (focus groups, polls, etc.), how to work with your pollster to make sure you get the information you need, and the overall strengths and weaknesses of polling vs. other research methods. We will also discuss how to target specific communities when doing research.