Allies

In college, I served on the board of a student group that advocated sensible drug policy. During this time, our school’s chapter was named one of the top ten most succesful chapters in the country. This honor was in part because we succeeded in passing a “Good Samaritan” policy to encourage students to seek medical attention for drug overdoses. It was also because we managed to unite a number of otherwise disparate groups – we co-hosted various events with the College Republicans, the College Democrats, the Arab students organization, Hillel (the center for Jewish student life), and more.

When we organized events with the College Republicans, they did not refuse to collaborate with us simply because one of our board members supported raising taxes to fund a single-payer healthcare system. When we organized events with the College Democrats, they did not refuse to collaborate with us simply because a different board member supported defunding Medicare extending the Bush tax cuts.

Those issues were core to what these organizations believed in, and they were actively lobbying for both issues at the same time as they sponsored initiatives with us. However, they were able to recognize what was relevant to our collaboration and what wasn’t, and recognize the difference between the personal views of our members and our stance as an organization.

Effecting social change involves building a coalition, and a coalition is by nature diverse. While I would love for the leader of every company to agree that I deserve the right to marry, I also understand that one’s allies in one movement may not be allies in every other. Disagreement about other issues is not the sign of a bad coalition; it’s the sign of a broad one.

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