Courage Campaign Success Stories

12 Days of Courage! Our most courageous moments of 2013.

Check out what can happen when 800,000 people who have the courage to care and to act come together and speak with one voice. (Hint: really awesome stuff.)

#12. Shaming the GOP for the government shutdown -- Republicans thought the public would support their destructive political game, but 450,000 Courage members called them out, demanding that Congress not get paid during the shutdown. Our work received national media attention, and politicians tied themselves in knots trying to explain why they should get paychecks while federal workers would not. Public opinion shifted dramatically, and the shutdown ended with an agreement that left Tea Party demands in the dust. With your support, we will continue to courageously call out elected officials -- regardless of political party -- and hold them accountable for playing politics with people’s lives.

#11. Calling out the Coward Caucus to reduce gun violence -- When four Senate Democrats blocked passage of universal background checks, we dubbed them the ‘Coward Caucus’ and 25,000 Courage members pledged not to donate a dime for their re-election, gaining national media attention. Next year, Courage will take the fight to the NRA and make gun violence an issue in the 2014 election, forcing candidates to go on the record in favor of common sense reforms and paving the way for progress.

#10. Demanding VISA have the courage to stand up for our LGBT friends in Russia -- While others stood silent, we had the courage to call on the biggest and most influential sponsor of the Sochi Olympic games -- VISA -- to speak out against the state-sanctioned violence and persecution of LGBT people in Russia to help pressure the International Olympic Committee to act. As the Olympic games approach, we plan to escalate our campaign to protect the equality of all LGBT visitors, athletes, and people in Russia.

#9. Demanding Senators have the courage to pass filibuster reform -- 2013 was yet another record year of filibuster abuse by Senate extremists with unconscionable and unprecedented obstruction of democracy. After Courage members demanded bold action from their Senators -- including a press conference outside Dianne Feinstein’s office in California. Reluctant Democrats finally threw their support behind reform, and the filibuster was amended for presidential nominations. We will continue fighting until the filibuster once again becomes an extraordinary measure that requires real, personal sacrifice from a Senator, only entered into in the most extreme of circumstances.

#8. Fighting to ensure benefits for married LGBT service members -- Our members had the courage to demand stronger action from our ally, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, when 6 GOP-controlled states refused to grant spousal benefits to married same-sex couples in the National Guard. This defied the Supreme Court's ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Sec. Hagel pushed harder, developed a creative solution, and now all service members have equal benefits under the law!

#7. Courage to stand up to Wal-Mart -- Fighting for a living wage and campaigning against low-wage employers that force taxpayers to pay their healthcare costs, Courage Campaign members have been critical to turning the tide against Wal-Mart and their immoral and destructive business practices. We helped to raise the minimum wage in California and change the conversation in Washington, and we celebrated when the National Labor Relations Board prosecuted Wal-Mart for their unethical practices, leading to the ouster of Wal-Mart's CEO. Much work remains to be done, but only through reform of the retail industry and we achieve an economy that works for everyone.

#6. Courage to call out the Governor of California on prisons -- When Gov. Jerry Brown tried to sneak an irresponsible prison expansion plan through the Legislature over Labor Day weekend, we ignited a tsunami of opposition. Other progressive groups stood silent for fear of angering the Governor, but we stood toe-to-toe with him, ultimately forcing him to revise his plan in favor of increased education and rehabilitation. And when Gov. Brown vetoed a historic sentencing reform bill that would have made huge strides against the “War on Drugs,” we called him out for his cowardly ploy to appear “tough on crime.” Momentum is shifting toward reform of our nation’s vast and deeply corrupt prison industry, and Courage is leading the way.

#5. Fighting for workplace equality (ENDA) -- When Speaker Boehner refused to allow a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and made dishonest arguments against it, we called him out for his cowardly appeasement of Tea Party extremists. We won’t stop fighting until we have workplace protections in all 50 states.

#4. Courage to fight lies about Obamacare -- When Koch Brother front group, Generation Opportunity, launched a cowardly propaganda campaign -- using free beer, pizza, models, and a creepy Uncle Sam to spread lies about health insurance and bribe college students into opting out of Obamacare -- we launched the Obamacare Reality Response Team to educate the public about the realities of the law and their affordable healthcare options. And when the California Republicans created a fake and misleading Obamacare website using taxpayer dollars to to sow fear and confusion, we slammed them with a viral petition that received national media attention. Our online education campaigns have helped to make California the leading state exchange despite efforts to make it fail. This fight is far from over, and we’ll be there, defending affordable healthcare for all.

#3. Leading the way to smarter, safer national gun policy through California -- After Washington failed to take even the most modest of actions to reduce gun violence, Courage shifted its focus to passing the smartest, safest gun laws in the largest state in the country. We pushed the Lifesaving Intelligent Firearms Enforcement (LIFE) Act through the Legislature by building a website which detailed the gun deaths in every Assemblymembers’ district. And when the Governor vetoed several of the bills in a cowardly effort to placate the NRA, papers all over the state covered our condemnation. The success of California's gun laws -- which have reduced gun violence by 58% -- will help them become more widespread. We continue to do everything in our power to bring these common sense solutions to other states.

#2. Stopping the Koch Brothers from purchasing the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and eight other major newspapers -- when others said it was impossible, we launched an innovative, ferocious campaign that torpedoed the deal. We’re now leading a campaign to remove David Koch from the Board of the most influential PBS station in the country, WGBH. We’ll be announcing next steps in January.

#1. Ending Prop 8 and DOMA -- the product of YEARS of work educating the public and fighting various individual campaigns for equality, which led to the historic Supreme Court rulings in June. It was a decision that would not have happened without the work of Courage Campaign members who slowly turned the tide in favor of marriage equality, through bold, intelligent activism. And we will not rest until marriage equality is realized in all 50 states.