Marching for Equality: A Conversation with Robert Moore
Robert Moore at the Eve of Justice Rally & March, March 4, 2009.
"It is imperative to build bridges across movements for social, racial, and economic justice, so that we are working together to move forward"
In interview with Hugo Salinas
On March 25, Robert Moore, a gay Mormon and an Affirmation member, will join many others on a 5-day march from San Francisco to Sacramento, where they will call on the Supreme Court to overturn Prop 8. In this interview Robert talks about his involvement with
One Struggle One Fight, the organization sponsoring Robert's march.
Tell us about your Mormon background.
I was born and raised most of my childhood in Stayton, Oregon, except for the couple of years we lived in Roy, Utah. My family has been members of the church since the 1840s, when one of my ancestors, Archibald Gardner, fled Canada to join Brigham Young in North Omaha, Nebraska. He joined Young and the others for the Mormon Exodus to Utah. Gardner was one of the founders of West Jordan, Utah. His legacy can still be seen in modern West Jordan. His historic mills and houses have been renovated into a specialty shopping district known as Gardner Village.
Growing up, I went to church each Sunday, had family home evening every Monday night, and didn't consume caffeine, drugs, or alcohol. I also took part in the passing of the sacrament and did baptisms for the dead, like so many other young men my age. The whole time, I was thinking, what would happen to me after I felt the need to be truthful about who I am?
How was your coming out process?
When I was 17, I stopped going to church, but I did not come out to my family til I was 19 and had already moved away. All my family except my grandmother turned their back on me. I was not allowed to step inside some family members' homes, attend my sister's wedding, or see some of my younger cousins. The saddest memory I have of the Church is when my grandmother died in 2003; I was 23 years old and when back home to the church I grew up in for her services. After the services, the bishop (whom I had known since I was very young, and who had been the bishop since before I stopped going to church) walked down the line of my family shaking their hands, hugging them, and offering words of sympathy, even to family members he had never met before that day. When he came to me, he did not even look at me and passed right on by to the next family member. I don't understand how a church/ people that have been (and still are in many places) persecuted for their beliefs and the way they live their lives would then do the same thing to others.
What is the Civil Rights March to Sacramento?
When Prop 8 passed last November, we were hurt not only by the injustice of having our rights stripped away, but also by the racist and anti-faith scapegoating that was happening within the LGBT community. A cynical "divide & conquer" effort based on misinformation pitted LGBT folks, communities of faith (particularly Catholics and Mormons), and communities of color (particularly African Americans) against each other. Not only did this highlight the realities of racism within the LGBT community, it also directly impacted LGBT folk within communities of color and of faith, who especially needed to be supported but found themselves as outsiders in multiple capacities.
The spirit of our march to Sacramento is to lay a foundation for healing and bridge building. It is our goal to organize with integrity beyond the concrete and tangible goal of repealing Prop 8, or even of marriage equality in the broader sense. We believe it is imperative to build bridges across movements for social, racial, and economic justice, so that we are working together to move forward.
How does your Mormonism inform your activism?
While growing up, I was always taught to give back to my community, stand up for what I believe in, and to lead by example. By being a part of this march, I am doing all of these actions. I think that our march for civil rights has resonances with the Mormon pioneers. They traveled from state to state to find a place where they could freely practice the religion of their choosing and for the right to marry whom they choose. They were arrested, persecuted, and killed because of the way they loved. We in the LGBT community have also been arrested, persecuted, and killed for the way we love. Our fights are very similar. I hope one day both sides can see this and join together to eliminate discrimination against any person or group.
There are people in the GLBT community who fight for gay rights, yet they hesitate when they hear about social justice. Isn't there a danger of diluting the message by talking also about immigrant rights, economic justice, and other social issues?
There is nothing more relevant to the LGBT community than social justice. We seek basic human rights and equality within U.S. society and the world at large. If anything, the concept of social justice makes our cause much stronger rather than diluting it. It is the driving force behind the fight against Prop 8. When we fight for social justice, we fight for equality for all people, whether they be immigrants, impoverished, or any group that finds themselves the object of oppression in our society.
How can someone support the march?
There are many ways to support the march:
- Make a monetary donation or even an in-kind donation of food and/or
water. Please contact me directly to make a donation, or on my cell. All money donated will go towards food, water, and permits for the march.
- Hold a house party or potluck (don't forget the green Jell-O) to let your friends, coworkers, family, and neighbors know about the march. Ask them to support the march with donations or by joining themselves.
- Form an "affinity group" with your friends, neighbors, co-workers, sports
team members, church group, support group, etc., to go on the walk together and/or help publicize the march.
- Write an op-ed piece or letter to the editor to your newspaper of choice
explaining why you think it's important to support LGBT and civil rights by participating in the march. If what you've written gets published, please let us know!
- Download and print posters and flyers. Put them up anywhere you can, and
ask stores you frequent to put them in their windows. If you plan on doing any big scale printing, we suggest using a union print shop, as we fully support unions. Don't forget to ask them to add a union bug/logo to the bottom of anything they print for you!
- Join the Facebook group "One Struggle One Fight" and invite all your friends to join. Send out announcements about the march to any e-lists you're on and start groups in online communities you belong to. Write about the march on your blog and post the link on other blogs.