Hello all – I’m Casey Pick, one of the co-directors of the Central Route van on the inaugural Soulforce “Right to Marry” campaign. After joining Haven yesterday morning in picking up our van from the rental agency, and making the painstaking drive out of New York City – I now have tremendous respect for cabbies – I finally had the pleasure of meeting some of the other “Right to Marry” Riders face to face. We have spent months preparing for this campaign, and hours on the phone
in conference calls or in sending e-mails back and forth across the country, but there is something special about actually seeing somebody in the flesh. They become more real to you, and for me, that meant the campaign itself truly coming alive.
Six of us rode from LaGuardia International Airport together to Albany, beginning the first of many conversations that will draw us together as a team. We were a mix of past Equality Riders and people (like myself) who are new to Soulforce actions. We include a wide range of personalities, family backgrounds and political beliefs – and when you’re on the road in a large white van for several hours, giddy from lack of sleep and excitement at the impending beginning of something great, all of that information comes pouring out of you.
This is a passionate group, with opinions on everything from national oil policy to African missionary work. But through it all, I find I was most struck to learn that several couples from past Soulforce actions will be marrying next year. It seems such a simple, normal thing – I’ve celebrated three weddings for straight friends this year – but at the same time, it is a radical demonstration of what we’re here for. The ability for a same-sex couple to say “we’re getting married next year” is something new and powerful and wondrous, and simply hearing that makes me excited to get moving.
Today we took another important step in that direction by beginning our training. The discussions of nonviolence are not entirely new to me – I came to this campaign with the mantra of “know your enemy; know yourself; love your enemy as yourself” – but here, nonviolent activism is not merely a tactic or a strategy. It is an attitude that pervades everything we will do, and it is the bar against which our many ideas and messages will be measured.
In the political world of sticks and carrots, polls and power plays, the concept of nonviolence takes on new meaning when compared to direct actions or civil disobedience. What does it mean to debate nonviolently? What does it mean to truly see the humanity of the lawmaker who does not consider your loving, committed relationship – your dignity as an adult human being who wants to be responsible for the well-being of another adult human being – worth the price of the political capital it would risk? How can it be that the best way to achieve our ultimate objective of marriage equality is to be detached from that objective, satisfied in our own self-worth when that self-worth is constantly being denied? These questions and more will stay with us on the journey, becoming more real as we meet with each new legislator or stranger on the street, and it is my hope that, like seeing my new friends faces as they climbed into a van, it will all become clearer in a way that brings joy and new beginnings.