Edgewise's latest offering shows that we obviously agree on the basics but a few semantic choices we have made lead us into disagreement. I simply feel that it is better to make the "big push" now as we have the public paying attention to us. Bringing attention to a topic is what direct action is meant to do and in the past decade (roughly) Edgewise and I seem to agree that direct action has lost some of the "punch." S/he wrote earlier about how protest is more for getting the protestors together than influencing hte public of late.
But this is no longer true with the amount of attention given to gay marriage. Now we have the attention of the public and the best way to get an idea across is not to wait for the media to pick it up and run some editorials, but to create the news and create the tension. We do have some amount of tension, but the path of least resistance (the status quo) will win out if we do not make it clear what is at stake and why gay marriage should be legal.
There are so many parallels with the bans on interracial marriages. Politicians trying to appeal to both sides by claiming its the states problem to deal with. Opponents claiming that the marriages are morally wrong or unhygienic.
Direct action brings the matter to the attention of public and forces its way up the legal systems as far as it can go. It is true that the ability of outspoken advocates to show again and again to a large public why a law is unjust will make them have to reconcile the advocates reasonings with the law. Direct action is about making it impossible for society to ignore a problem. To make them so aware of the reasonings for and against, that they have to reconcile them.
It is a simple matter of cognitive dissonance. We, as human beings, either ignore a problem or we reconcile it. Otherwise, we are racked with confusion. When the chance to ignore a problem is taken away from us by way of direct action, we must reconcile. It is simply our nature.
This is the coercive aspect of direct action. So where does the urgency come from you ask? By the fact, that we have the mind share here and now. Direct action is not only about forcing an idea into a society's attention but also about showing why a certain law is unjust. This "why" is important. Without showing society the "why," direct action just sounds like noise. It becomes a mere irritant. Something to brush off. The public just becomes used to it, and pushes it to the back of their minds like any other annoying noise. If the other side presents a nice, pleasant sounding "why" while we simply scream bloody murder, the public is going to focus on that nice, pleasing sound. Eventually, the topic will be dropped. Even if it is not resolved, we will lose the attention of the public. Straight to the back of the brain with this whole equal right to marriage idea.
That is where the urgency comes from. We could lose not only the attention of the public but their opinions as well. We have so many people being forced to pay attention and a large number of them are on the fence. We have to make it clear what is wrong and why it is wrong. This is not the coercive aspect of direct action, but it is just as important. We are on a time limit. Either the public will be swayed away from us, or the attention will be lost for who knows how long. We cannot allow the rights of our citizens to be trampled on while the public is off looking at some other issue. We must describe the problem and the solution here and now.
MLK noted that extremists make people listen to the moderates. If nothing else, the discussion of gay marriage will become the "extreme" view point that forces people to listen to the "moderates" that simply suggest civil unions. Our strongest case is for gay marriage (Loving v. Virginia states that marriage is a right) and I feel we mu st lead with our strongest case. If we must, we could settle for civil unions, but they are not ideal.