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LA People 2009: Marriage Counselor — Rick Jacobs

Rick Jacobs
Kevin Scanlon

Rick Jacobs has just wrapped up another weekend of training gay activists at Camp Courage. This time, work took the grass-roots organizer to Fresno.

“It was a home run,” Jacobs says of the session. “People are working together and people want to work together.”

Founder of the Courage Campaign, Jacobs is fighting to overturn Proposition 8, the ballot measure that took away the existing right of gays and lesbians to legally marry in this state.

“If we lose at the hand of the [California] Supreme Court,” Jacobs says, “we need to win at the ballot box. There’s no other way. So we need to change people’s minds.”

Jacobs, though, wants to correct the mistakes of November, when Californians passed Prop. 8, and build a true grass-roots movement that reaches out to every voter in every county.

“It’s going to be the test of our movement to see how hard we are willing to work.”

With the help of other gay-rights activists, Jacobs has been teaching political-organizing skills through Camp Courage weekend training. He’s also built up his online presence with more than 700,000 subscribers to e-mails from his www.couragecampaign.org, which provide news, action updates and guidance on what to do next to overturn Prop. 8.

Gay marriage may be the focus now, says Jacobs, but the larger goal is to organize a strong grass-roots movement to promote full equality for gays and lesbians across the country. “If we are going to win equal rights — state and federal — we have to be a part of the broader progressive movement.”