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The Courage Campaign is a progressive grassroots advocacy organization based in California. With more than 750,000 members, the group works on a variety of progressive causes, such as LGBT equality (including the repeal of California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act) and economic issues such as health insurance reform, tax reform, and job creation. They also organize around California ballot measures, leading the online efforts to successfully pass Proposition 30 and defeating Proposition 32 in 2012. The chair and founder of Courage Campaign is Rick Jacobs.
The organization relies heavily on online and grassroots organizing methods, including email, Facebook, and Twitter. Courage’s EqualityOnTrial.com, founded to cover the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial when the courtroom forbade live television coverage, is the #1 Google search result for “Prop 8 Trial” and has received over five million views and 150,000 comments. Courage Campaign has produced a number of videos that have gone viral, including “Fidelity, Don’t Divorce Us” a four-minute video featuring same-sex couples who were married before the passage of Proposition 8 in which each couple makes the same request of the California Supreme Court: "Don't divorce us." The video is accompanied by the song Fidelity by Regina Spektor and to date has been viewed more than 1.5 million times.
Their efforts have been praised by former Speaker and current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who said of Jacobs and Courage on September 22, 2011, “Rick knows this better than anybody – we can do just so much in the Congress with our inside maneuvering. Without the outside mobilization, we cannot do the best possible job. So thank you, Rick Jacobs, thank you Courage, for making the future better.”
- "Can’t Pray the Gay Away"-Courage organized a flash mob protest against Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Over fifty people danced to Madonna’s hit "Like a Prayer" outside of the 2011 California Republican Party convention. The protest, covered in the Los Angeles Times, called attention to Bachmann’s connections to controversial reparative therapy—which claims to make gay people straight—practiced at her husband's clinic.
- Ed and Derence—When the California Supreme Court decided it would take six months to rule on the next phase of the Prop 8 trial, Courage Campaign asked its members to tell us what six months' wait meant to them and their families. Three hundred stories came in, including one from Ed Watson and Derence Kernek in Palm Springs, a couple for over 40 years. Ed had Alzheimer’s and his health was quickly deteriorating. Courage Campaign’s field staff drove out to Palm Springs to get them on video and their story ended up being featured on the front page of the Los Angeles Times. Ed passed away in December 2011, never having the chance to marry his partner due to the long delays in the Prop 8 trial.
- No More Dirty Tricks—a successful campaign against a state-wide right-wing movement to change electoral college vote-counting in presidential elections, starting with the 2008 presidential campaign. No Dirty Tricks received nationwide coverage on CBS News, which led to the failure of the right-wing effort.
- NOM Tour Tracker—a video blog covering the National Organization for Marriage's Summer for Marriage Tour and interviews with attendees. NOM Tour Tracker received nationwide coverage when the founder of the Summer for Marriage Tour, Louis Marinelli, penned an e-mail on behalf of Courage Campaign renouncing his actions on behalf of the National Organization for Marriage and his decision to support same-sex marriage. The development was the subject of a feature segment by Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC.
- Occupy Golf Course--While he was holding a fundraiser for wealthy donors during a visit to the Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Beach, California, Courage confronted Republican House Speaker John Boehner with almost 30,000 signatures demanding that he hold a vote on President Obama's American Jobs Act. Courage flew a plane over his entire golf outing which said "GOP Jobs Plan = Occupy Golf Course? ~Courage Campaign" while also organizing a protest of about fifty people outside of the resort, which was covered by the LA Times and MSNBC.
- Anthem Blue Cross—Anthem Blue Cross has been a frequent target of Courage Campaign. In 2010, Courage successfully convinced Blue Cross to revise a proposed 39% increase in insurance rates after mounting a public campaign asking Gov. Schwarzenegger to intervene. In 2013 Courage mounted a successful public campaign challenging Anthem Blue Cross’ proposed cuts to the pharmaceutical benefits of HIV/AIDS patients. Anthem Blue Cross rescinded the policy change.
- Walmart: Stop Selling Assault Rifles—In the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, Courage worked to pressure large retailers, including Walmart, to stop selling assault rifles, joining with SumOfUs.org, MoveOn.org and MomsRising to deliver hundreds of thousands of signatures to their store 15 minutes from Sandy Hook Elementary School in a nationwide media event. Courage members also engaged in a boycott of Walmart on Black Friday in 2012, due to Walmart’s labor practices.
- Apple and the NRA Shooting Game App—in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, Courage convinced Apple to increase the recommended age from 4 to 12 for the NRA’s new shooting app.
- Don't sell the LA Times to the Koch brothers—In March 2013, Courage Campaign partnered with DailyKos and MoveOn.org to deliver over 100,000 signatures to the Los Angeles Times opposing a sale of the newspaper, owned by the Tribune Company, to right-wing Koch brothers. Courage and DailyKos members also funded a newspaper ad to appear in the pages of the Times. After the advertising department rejected the ad, Courage staff revised the ad to add six footnote citations of the Times' own reporting regarding the Koch brothers' right-wing activities. Following the petition delivery, the advertising department relented and the advertisement ran on April 3, 2013.
- Mitt Gets Worse—Playing on the “It Gets Better” campaign, Courage worked with the American Bridge 21st Century to expose the anti-LGBT agenda of Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential elections. This was the first project to track Mitt Romney’s record on LGBT issues from 1994 to 2012.
- National Organization for Marriage- Courage filed a complaint with the IRS after the head of the Ruth Institute (a 501c3 “public education” arm of anti-same-sex marriage group National Organization for Marriage) was caught on video using her non-partisan position to ask people to vote for Carly Fiorina.
- Courage Campaign website
- Courage Campaign on Twitter
- Prop 8 Trial Tracker