Milk is easily the best live action film I've seen this year, not only for its exceptional quality but also for its political and social relevance. The filmmakers had no way of knowing how the Prop 8 campaign would play out but the parallels between the fight to defeat Prop 8 in 2008 and Harvey Milk's 1977 struggle to defeat Prop 6 as dramatized in the film are truly eerie. So, it's no accident that, post-election, Milk would play a pivotal role in the pushback against the passage of Prop 8.
A few weeks ago I attended a free screening of Milk hosted by the Courage Campaign (for whom I have worked,) which offered local activists an opportunity to gather, see Milk and speak with each other about both the film and the next steps in the marriage equality movement. Little did I know it would be the first of many such screenings, which Courage Campaign members throughout the state have organized for tomorrow.
From a Courage Campaign e-mail:
On Saturday all throughout California, will "you, and you, and you" attend a Courage Campaign screening of "MILK" and then participate in a "Light Up the Night" candlelight vigil, organized by our friends at Join the Impact?
We're calling this special event "MILK plus LOVE" and we want you -- and your friends, family and neighbors -- to be there. Courage Campaign members just like you are organizing these screenings on Saturday at 40 movie theaters in communities across California. All you need to do is RSVP now so they know how many people are coming (and then buy your movie tickets at the theater before the event)
In California? Sign up to attend a screening HERE.
If you saw Milk then you recall the dramatic scene in which Harvey Milk debates Proposition 6 in front of a hostile audience. Against the advice of consultants who urged him to cower and not rock the boat, Milk knew he had to not only get his message out but he had to do it in the belly of the beast, in Orange County, CA, which today is home to Rick Warren's Saddleback Church.
Harvey Milk's courage back then has inspired Courage Campaign to challenge Barack Obama's homophobic invocation speaker Rick Warren to a debate about Proposition 8 with progressive minister, Reverend Eric Lee.
From Courage's e-mail:
We can not ignore Rick Warren's fervent support for Proposition 8 or his mobilization of thousands of evangelical Christians to enshrine discrimination into our state constitution.
Harvey Milk did not ignore John Briggs in 1978, when Briggs sought to pass Proposition 6 -- the infamous "Briggs Initiative" that attempted to ban gay and lesbian teachers, and anyone who supported them, from our California's public schools. Milk challenged Briggs to debates across the state.
Urge Rick Warren to join Rev. Lee for a Prop 8 debate HERE.
Finally, last Friday -- the opening day of Milk in many parts of the country -- I attended a people-powered rally organized by a student in Claremont, CA in association with Join The Impact to protest the passage of Proposition 8, which culminated in a candlelight march to the theatre where Milk had just opened. Several speakers spoke to the crowd of more than 200 people who gathered in a small park in Claremont, including Mother Karen Macqueen who spoke about having briefly met Harvey Milk in San Francisco during their fight against Proposition 6 and the lessons we can learn from him today.
Harvey had some principles we have to remember. One of them is that we need organizers and we need activists, we don't need politicians and there is deep truth in that. We need a people's movement, a law-abiding, peaceful people's movement who lets other people know how important marriage equality is.
That's exactly what Courage Campaign is building with their Pledge to Repeal Prop 8. If you haven't signed it, join over 310,000 people who already have HERE.
And if you haven't seen Milk, I highly recommend doing so. Not only is it incredibly entertaining but it contains lessons moving forward for how to take on the Rick Warrens of the world and -- this time -- win.