Please read this important message from Louis Marinelli who worked for the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). You’ll see the power of storytelling and sheer dedication in changing hearts and minds. -Rick Jacobs of the Courage Campaign
Dear M. Linley B.,
Last summer, I organized the “Summer for Marriage” Tour for NOM. For 30 days, I traveled across the nation pushing an un-American agenda that harms gays, lesbians, and their families.
I’m writing to tell you that I now regret it. Last Friday, in an interview with the Good As You blog, I renounced my past and affirmed my support for marriage equality. You know why? Because during the very summer tour that I organized, I was forced to see gays and lesbians for who they really were: real people with real lives who were hurt by the work I was doing.
I directly credit Courage Campaign members like you for playing an instrumental role in my change of heart. And that’s why I’m writing: to ask for your support to continue that work, and to make up for what I’ve done.
Can you contribute $5 right now — $1 for each of the past 5 years I’ve spent working against equality? Courage Campaign will use the money to change more hearts and minds, as they did with mine on that summer tour.
I’m asking, M. Linley B., because I deeply regret the work I did during the summer of 2010 and over the past 5 years as a whole. I helped curtail the rights of gays and lesbians in this country and I want to make up for all of that — with your help.
Throughout the summer tour, Courage Campaign’s Arisha and Anthony approached me several times. I remember sitting on a bench in St. Louis, Missouri alone with Anthony for a few minutes. It was then that I empathized with Anthony and who he was for the first time, although I did not tell him. I understood that my work wasn’t affecting faceless, nameless political targets but instead good people like Anthony who just wanted to participate in all that America is.
I know firsthand that anyone can change if they could just see how their anti-equality work is affecting real people. I would like to thank you, the supporters of Courage Campaign and NOM Tour Tracker, for doing the legwork and putting in the time and effort to change my life for the better. Now I want to return the favor by fighting for full marriage equality.
I’m writing to ask for your help so that you and Courage Campaign can help make up for what I’ve done. Your $5 contribution will help right those wrongs, and move more people like me towards the side of justice.
I am truly inspired by the supportive messages I have received and continue to receive since I announced my support for civil marriage equality on Friday, April 8th. So many have shown me nothing but kindness and support.
Now, we need to make LGBT people more visible to people like me. We need to have conversations with people of faith, people with deep-rooted hostility towards equality because of their upbringing. I’m being honest, M. Linley B., when I say I’ve been there and we have a lot of work to do. If someone like me can be moved, I believe folks like Courage Campaign, and its supporters like you, can move anyone.
Thank you for your support, and for all the work that you do.
Proud to now stand with you,
Formerly with National Organization for Marriage
I now support full marriage equality by Louis J. Marinelli
Having spent the last five years putting all of my political will, interest and energy into fighting against the spread of same-sex marriage as if it were a contagious disease, I must admit that it is hard for me to put the following text into words let alone utter them with my own voice.
Whether it is an issue of disbelief, shame or embarrassment, the one thing that is for sure is that I have come to this point after several months of an internal conflict with myself. That conflict gradually tore away at me until recently when I was able to for the first time simply admit to myself that I do in fact support civil marriage equality.
While I have come to terms with this reality internally, speaking about it, even with the closest members of my family, has proven to be something difficult for me to do.
In short, if there is an issue of disbelief surrounding my newfound support for civil marriage equality, it is disbelief from those who surround me. If there is an issue of shame, it is a result of acknowledging the number of people I have targeted, hurt and oppressed. And if there is an issue of embarrassment, its roots lie in the face-to-face encounters I have had and expect to have with those with whom I once toiled over this very contentious issue.
I understand that those whom I approach now are well within their right to disbelieve and question me and my motives. I accept that is the result of what I have done over the past few years and would therefore like to take this time to, as openly as I can, discuss the events that brought about my change of heart.
As you may already know, I was the one behind the 2010 Summer for Marriage Tour which the National Organization for Marriage sponsored and operated throughout July and August last year. It was my doing when, in March that year, I approached Brian Brown, then Executive Director of the National Organization for Marriage about sponsoring and participating in a series of traditional marriage rallies scattered around the Nation.
In fact, the tour route itself, while chosen largely by NOM itself, incorporated as many of the sites I had originally chosen and helped independently organize. Other locations were added due to strategic, political or simply logistical purposes.
Ironically, one of the last tour stops added to the itinerary was Atlanta and I bring this site up because it was in Atlanta that I can remember that I questioned what I was doing for the first time. The NOM showing in the heart of the Bible-belt was dismal and the hundreds of counter-protesters who showed up were nothing short of inspiring.
Even though I had been confronted by the counter-protesters throughout the marriage tour, the lesbian and gay people whom I made a profession out of opposing became real people for me almost instantly. For the first time I had empathy for them and remember asking myself what I was doing.
If my transition from opponent to supporter of same-sex civil marriage was a timeline, Atlanta would be indicated by the first point on the line. The next point on that timeline would be two months later.
After the marriage tour wrapped up and everyone went their separate ways, I transformed my marriage tour “Inside Look” blog to a more general blog about protecting marriage and opposing the homosexual agenda.
Over the course of September and October I occupied my time writing up articles along these very lines. Some of the articles were fair, even if you disagree with them, but many of them I would now categorize as propaganda filled with strong and unnecessary rhetoric. This is especially true of the YouTube videos I made.
One article I wrote, towards the end of October, 2010 caught the attention of a blogger by the name of RJ, who writes on the blog AmIWorking. He responded to my article about the homosexual agenda with an article addressed personally to me regarding marriage equality. In short, his article had the miraculous effect of instantly putting things into perspective for me.
At that point, between what I had witnessed on the marriage tour and RJ’s post about marriage equality, I really came to understand that gays and lesbians were just real people who wanted to live real lives and be treated equally as opposed to, for example, wanting to destroy American culture. No, they didn’t want to destroy American culture, they wanted to openly particulate in it. I was well on my way to becoming a supporter of civil marriage equality. You can read my statement retracting the statements I made about gays and lesbians here.
As a result of that I closed down my blog within a couple of days. That gave birth to my current endeavor, The Conservative Dispatch, which is how I occupy my time. The site is about promoting general conservative principles and is not focused solely on social issues.
In December I came out in support of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I also removed the admins I had delegated my moderating duties to for my Facebook page.
Having done that, I had to pick up where they left off. I was largely taken aback by the fact that the page I created had become such a hateful place. My comments and rhetoric paled in comparison to what that place had turned into. I began to understand why the gay community was out there claiming opposition to same-sex civil marriage was all about hate.
I soon realized that there I was surrounded by hateful people; propping up a cause I created five years ago, a cause which I had begun to question. This would be timeline point number three. I wanted to extend an olive branch in some way and started to reinstate those who had been banned by previous administrators of my page. I welcomed them to participate on the page and did what I could do erase the worst comments and even ban those who posted them.
Also, I started regularly conversing with same-sex marriage supporters in another Facebook group. This further solidified my new perception of gays and lesbians as real people, not some faceless political opponent. That could be considered the next point on the timeline.
Lastly, I came to understand the difference between civil marriage and holy marriage as in the sacrament of the Catholic Church. Let me rephrase. I understood that but either willingly chose not to accept it or just didn’t see it. Regardless, I see it now and the significance of that is as follows:
Once you understand the great difference between civil marriage and holy marriage, there is not one valid reason to forbid the former from same-sex couples, and all that is left to protect is the latter.
Indeed Christians and Catholics alike are well within their right to demand that holy matrimony, a sacrament and service performed by the Church and recognized by the Church, remains between a man and a woman as their faith would dictate. However, that has nothing to do with civil marriage, performed and recognized by the State in accordance with state law.
My name is Louis J. Marinelli, a conservative-Republican and I now support full civil marriage equality. The constitution calls for nothing less.