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LAist Interview: Max Buschman of Equality Network

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The successful passage of Prop 8 took those of us who aren't bigots by surprise in the same way Barry Keenan took Frank Sinatra Jr. at gunpoint. Having assumed that California was different from the Medievalists running the American South, the codification of anti-gay hatred was a stroke-inducing reminder that the State most associated with GLBTQ rights is also the State that inflicted Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Howard Jarvis on the World.

Obviously, the revocation of equal marriage rights was a massive wakeup call to the GLBTQ community, and since November numerous groups have sprung into action, working solo and in tandem on Prop 8's repeal. One such group is Equality Network. They're holding an Oktoberfest Fundraiser tomorrow to raise money to send 4 of their activists to the National Equality March in Washington, D.C. We spoke with co-organizer Max Buschman about the fundraiser, Equality Network, and the apoplectic side effects of Prop 8.

LAIST: Hi Max, thanks for taking the time to talk.

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Max Buschman: No problem

LAIST: Can you talk about Equality Network? How did it start?

MB: Equality network was formed following the passage of prop 8 in November. Jordan Krueger and David Comfort started co founded it. They had an obvious connection due to the passage of 8 and similar feelings and concerns on the issue

LAIST: I admit that the vein in my forehead exploded the day after. How did you get involved?

MB: Hah! My head about exploded the evening of the 4th. I got involved by chance. I met David at a meeting about where to go from here and just listened to what He and the group was about.

LAIST: As you know, there are several competing strategies for restoring Marriage Equality to California - one of them ironically being spearheaded by Ted Olson, is to provoke a SCOTUS challenge asap. This has been criticized by some other GLBT rights groups as the wrong strategy. What is Equality Network's preferred strategy?

MB: Speaking for myself, I'm all for moving forward for attaining marriage equality in California in 2010. I hate speaking for others, but I'd say [Equality Network] is overwhelmingly for marriage equality in 2010. Different groups and organizations have different goals and time-lines and strategies that they see best for 8's repeal in the state. I applaud them on their research and thoughts, but I honestly believe we can win equality here in California in 2010.

LAIST: I certainly hope so. Do you see a ballot initiative having the most success, or the court push? or do you see them as working in tandem?

MB: I believe they can work in tandem. Winning in back in the state through a ballot initiative takes changing peoples hearts and minds. I think there is progression in that area. Many groups are out in the streets and knocking on doors and speaking to people and there is success there.

LAIST: I think we were all a bit shocked by the prop 8 victory - I would argue that a part of that was due to outright lies by proponents of the bill. Even so, a stunning number of Californians were apparently opposed to equal marriage rights. Did you have a sense of that before the passage. And compared to last fall, have you personally seen a noticable change?

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MB: I did have a sense of peoples opposition to marriage equality prior to 8's passage. And there still are people who are opposed to it. I think we need to talk to those on the fence on the issue. The movable middle. There are some people who will never change.

LAIST: Sadly true.

MB: There has been change on the national level, with - what - 6 states with marriage equality after 8's passage. People pay attention to that. I think the other side used lies and manipulation to persuade voters that they were right about the issue.

LAIST: Definitely. which the good guys are now prepared for.

MB: Changing hearts and minds is just one aspect to attaining marriage equality.

LAIST: What else?

MB: Actions in the streets, direct actions, for example.

LAIST: what does Equality Network have planned in the coming months?

MB: gathering signatures for the ballot, organizing the community for direct actions, fundraising for marraige equality.

LAIST: Tell us about the fundraiser this weekend.

MB: The fundraiser on Saturday is going to be used to send 4 youth activists to The National Equality March in DC the following weekend (10/11/09). The national march is a brilliant idea to bring awarness and affect change on a national level.

LAIST: And it is an Oktoberfest theme.

MB: Oktoberfest ends on October 4th in Munich and I remember being in German glass in high school and always wanting to go. So i thought that we should have one. German BBQ, Phyllis Navidad will be spinning, dancers in Leiderhosen.

LAIST: And the Bouffant Sisters!

MB: As well as Tammi Brown

LAIST: Last question - there's a lot of people out there who might want to get involved and aren't sure where to start - any advice?

MB: There are so many great groups in LA and all over the state. groups creating change on a grassroots level. - Plug: You can always visit our website to find out where and when we meet. Wednesday's from 7-9pm every week. We will be meeting at Fubar from now on and following are meetings there will be a benefit for Marriage Equality and the Pasadena Aids foundation.

LAIST: Thanks a lot Max, I appreciate you taking the time to speak with us - I'll also expect a mountain of Teutonic Deliciousness on Saturday!

MB: me too!

Equality Network's Oktoberfest Fundraiser is tomorrow, October 3rd, from 4 PM to 9 PM. at Micky's, 8857 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069. Get out, eat and drink, and do it for a good cause.


Photo: Oktoberfest Barbie® Doll, by Sagespot via Flickr.