All Beliefs are Welcome Here!
Sharing a post from a Facebook that I am supporting, it is called Boycott Holland Until Love Is =.
Please join or share and help us?
This post is intended to address two very legitimate questions in detail:
1. Why are we boycotting Holland?
2. Why does our boycott have 'exemptions'?
Nearly two weeks ago, Holland (MI) city leaders voted down an ordinance that provided basic anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. Such protections have been adopted by almost every metro area in Michigan. A lot of outside money poured into the effort opposing the ordinance despite the fact that many of Holland's residents and employers wanted it to pass.
The night of the vote, the disappointing outcome spread quickly on social media, throughout West Michigan. Many of my fellow Michiganders reacted with indignation, embarrassment and frustration. I tried to imagine what would happen next: would this be another cycle of acute frustration left to run its course, to taper off and - ultimately, once more - to be forgotten? Was our outrage that inert? Were our options so limited?
No. It was more than just an "option" to right this wrong. It felt like an obligation.
The idea of a boycott emerged as a tool with several potential benefits. First, it provided a vehicle for expressing a general sentiment: if you turn your back on all the people, all the people turn their backs on you. Cause/effect.
Second, a boycott provided the opportunity to expedite a conversation between those that would be most directly affected by it - businesses and the city. The health of any city is downstream (of the health) of its businesses. For this reason, businesses have a strong and direct voice in shaping city policy. Pushing businesses to advocate for change on this issue became the most available and immediate way of pursuing equal protection under the law for all communities.
I'm hopeful this helps to explain generally why we've 'targeted' businesses *despite* the fact they're not to blame for the five votes that excluded a minority from basic civil rights. It deserves reiterating: the blame for the outcome of this ordinance lies with the five city leaders who cast these "no" votes. (One of which is particularly repugnant; but I've asked everyone to stay on message, so I shall do the same.)
All of this brings us to the launch of the Until Love Is Equal movement, which originated here on Facebook. Robust discussion occurred in the hours following the inception of this Group, especially regarding the tactics we'd deploy to seek resolution. What would be the scope and nature of the boycott? We wondered if it were fair to punish supportive businesses along with the neutral/apathetic ones. Would it be fatally inconsistent to advocate for inclusiveness while effectively punishing allies as if they were enemies?
Would a general boycott throw the baby out with the bathwater?
It was decided, yes, this would be too rigid: a blunt instrument, designed to strangle to submission. It didn't fit us right. One-dimensional, inflexible, cold, punitive and exclusionary. We are none of these things.
We pushed ourselves to find another way. We had faith there'd be businesses supportive of equal protections for all customers from all communities. We embraced the idea of creating a list of such businesses and excepting them from the boycott - even promoting those businesses and driving traffic to them! What a message that would send, as non-supportive businesses watched customers going into other stores. Stores where the "WELKOM" sign applies to *everyone.*
But time was against us. We had to launch our initiative quickly. No time to establish a bona fide list of businesses who welcome all customers from all customers. We had to put the burden of proof on the businesses - they'd have to contact us and declare their open, formal objection to the outcome of the vote that excluded civil rights protections for the LGBT community.
So we agreed that the 'exemptions' hybrid was a better fit, for many reasons. A general boycott without exceptions would have misrepresented us as tyrants. We'd have injured allies. We'd have lost on public perception. We sensed we'd forfeit the participation of many good souls if we hadn't found a way to accommodate and support businesses that support our movement.
And after all, these friendly businesses within Holland were to be the frontline of the dialog we hoped would occur on the City level. How much better to have them walking in unison with us toward a shared goal - rather than submitting reluctantly under the heel of a boot.
Movements can be designed many ways. The efficacy of the path we're on may not be known (definitively) until it's all said and done. We've arrived at this place through open discussion, by trusting instincts and through soliciting dialog. I actually believe we'd have fallen apart by now, if we chose the rigid path. We want Holland to support all communities of people. We have to support all who do.
Looking back, I feel strongly that our process for exemptions hasn't weakened or compromised our momentum or impact. Quite the opposite. When we drive customers to a business that supports our goal, we throw into clear relief the tactical and financial wisdom of supporting all customers, from all communities.
So we'll continue with this approach and enhance it along the way. I believe nothing else could've worked so well. We're not trying to punish the businesses; we're trying to ferment the dialog between business leaders and city leaders, the subject of which is a most obvious truth (that human rights are not up for debate,or subject to local vote.) By initiating any action whatsoever, we're saying we don't have time to wait for that conversation to happen on its own. We are attempting to expedite it by demonstrating openly the consequences of cutting a segment of the population out of the inherent freedoms, liberties and protections that come with being born American.
We require, expect and demand that our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community be protected, welcomed and respected. That's why we're here. Nothing would be finer in this world than rendering our movement unnecessary by realizing unanimity among all businesses in Holland, all whom can advocate on behalf of quickly, finally enacting an ordinance that protected all minorities from discrimination, equally.
And here's the best part: we've discovered there is a LOT of people in Holland (and throughout this nation) who feel the very same way. Christians, agnostics, straight, gay, whatever category, *there is a change in the wind.* A prevailing sentiment. Love Is =
Thank you for taking part in this. Let's continue to discuss how best to move forward - this is the most pivotal week yet, for this young movement. The best is yet to come.
And we go from here.