Sangha activists have always existed. In fact, my own tradition has several and mostly they are unknown in the West. Why is that?
Perhaps those in the West who claim to be activists are actually not. They are not effective. They show too much emotions, too much law breaking, too much noise, spouting slogans and stink of commercialism.
Sorry for you. But really when you apply the 8 fold Noble path in daily life you get a much better short term result. If you further take refuge and 5 precepts you can have longer term results, if you are fully ordained and well trained you can effect immediate results.
Those householders and not necessarily Buddhists often haunt the Buddhist temples.
They haunt will on the hunt.
They hunt for unwitting Sangha to support their cause.
Sadly some are coerced into a cause, donations held in front of their noses perhaps, but alas that would be just sheer guesswork. Some have interests in stopping suffering to children, animals, women, gays, forests, migrant workers, slaves, elderly, environment, the hungry, politics, and the war shocked. What ever the noble intention the Sangha member has; it turns ugly rather fast if they are in the public eye, often pushed into waving signs, shouting, screaming at the law, screaming at the public conducting themselves in manners that are extremely deplorable and shameful for Sangha. Even worse the extreme is suicide in a public way, in horrific ways like burning themselves, forced by others out of misguided desperation for change.
But we live in America or the West you protest!
I say those in robes who have faith, practice diligently, uphold their full Vinaya precepts, uphold Bodhisattva ideal by practicing it daily (not in substitution for Vinaya precepts which are not less than Bodhisattva precepts/ordination) are the ones with Right View. Right Effort in this case is to stand up to support those who ask for their help directly by conducting Buddhist services for the persons who ask, addressing issues in their dharma talks skillfully, and helping householders create solutions that work by pulling together skilled concerned persons of any faith or no faith at all who can effect changes. That means it's ok to make media statements, ok to offer comparisons and support in counseling, services, social media, join in public debates skillfully, join in committees, join in communities that are not violent, not proponents of bad behavior or break the laws of their country.
Not all is fair in life, but that does not mean lack of public address to a situation is not the same as not caring about an issue. What matters is how long a change can be considered stable, and long-lasting. But then that is the issue, everything changes, we are always in flux. Situations of dire nature today are later resolved and then disappear, only to reappear later in time.
Moderation and decorum are still in effect of public Sangha behavior. Screaming, shouting, shaking fists, waving signs, burning or supporting someone to burn, blocking law, blocking workers, blocking businesses, blocking public access.... All are not appropriate to Sangha behavior.
Sangha need to be leaders and as such in robes obey and conform to Vinaya guidelines regarding behavior.
Two Buddhist Brides Wed in Taiwan This is an English article.
Recently Ven. Zhao Hui from Taiwan received flaming on Facebook and elsewhere for her public action of Blessing Wedding for a gay couple (two women) who had been partnered. It was reported around the world as groundbreaking, one for she is a woman presiding in such a leadership role and two the gay couple was groundbreaking and advocating for Taiwan to address the issue of gay marriage in the first place.
I am aware of various Elders, all of them happen to be bhikshu, who have come down in the recent past against gays and surmise why they are gay and they do not support the lifestyle, discuss loosely the impact and rejection by those gays who want to become ordained fully and the potential harm those who do not give up the lifestyle after attaining robes. They are not in touch with the reality of householders who are gay, they spend too much time analyzing and nothing about doing. It contrasts greatly with the actions of Bhikshuni who are providing counseling, programs, and services to LGBT groups in their countries.
I'm not gay, bi, nor transgendered, never was; not even in my past lives memories.
Being a Sangha member does not make you gay nor does having disciples or becoming a friend to those people who are gay or bi or transgender, nor does supporting their rights, nor does being in community doing normal Buddhist activities with proper focus on the Vinaya, that has the privileged of being that mature and diverse to welcome them as laity.
Being in favor or human rights and in this case the rights of gays to marriage is not a declaration of gayness or indication of gayness. It's stupid and very childish to assume so, I had to delete a Chinese poster who asked in an APP on Facebook if I was gay would they sleep with me! So stupid! What arrogance they had to post that!
However, everyone regardless of gender, gender choice, or gender attractions deserves protection under their country's laws, inheritance rights, marriage services, full family services, counseling that is unbiased and non-coercive, full social security inheritance of spouses/partners, rights to employment with out bias, rights to retirement without bias, rights to defend their country in military service without bias or hate crimes, full access to legal services... and anything else the straight or majority in their countries have to offer.
Having said the above it bears repeating, Sangha are not to engage in debates about sexuality, sexual orientation, or support those that do. That matter of sexuality is a private matter of householders. We can offer only counseling to help people who want advice on how to apply Buddha dharma to their daily practice so they reduce their own suffering.
As Sangha we lead, we need not spout,shout, or force on others views on a vast array of worldly concerns.
We are supposed to live as left-home persons not as householders.
Here is some advice for those who insist on worldly names for themselves by using coercion.
If you as Sangha are so concerned about the rain forest then you better move there and help conserve it. Do not engage in politics, protests, nor coercion.
If you as Sangha are so concerned about human trafficking then go to those kids and rescue them yourself, join the local law enforcement and provide lifetime counseling to those kids stuck in those hell-holes, and the families that support them or are created by their own bodies.
If you as Sangha are so concerned about the suffering of LGBT community get involved with counseling them, provide lifetime Buddhist services for them without fear of catching something, stand up professionally and join the law, psychiatric, medical, social services, family counseling, community activities of non-sexual nature, join in politics as last resort by addressing the lawmakers, forming petitions without coercion by just announcing the existence of services and petitions or a what can you do to support this LGBT community page. Ven Chao Hui is a leader with compassion, she offered only one Buddhist service to a happy couple. She spoke in support of gay rights. There is a list of of many good things to do. What can you do?
If you are Sangha so concerned with hunger, then cook for the hungry; go to the famine places with lots of money, resources for farming, resources for counseling, medicine, and doctors and nurses. Most of all be prepared to offer grieve counseling to the remaining survivors.
If you are Sangha so concerned with freedom of Tibet or engages in political protests, genocide of non-Buddhists, or any type of violence against another, then you are on the wrong path. If you can't understand the Vinaya guidelines then you should not shame your robes and elders with political protests, screaming about how unfair the law/govt is, engage law breaking and worst of all supporting suicides by self-immolation in the name of politics or killing another human being. The last act mentioned is immediate parjika and you should disrobe.
We have many Sangha who are rescuing abandoned babies, children and elderly. We have many Sangha who are teaching the poor, educating the youth in their community, conserving the environment in their daily life, engaging in public works projects that help whole districts, collecting donations for the hungry, cooking for the homeless, providing free medical care to anyone who is in need. The reason so many are unknown to you is that we are very, very busy and too busy to step in front of a camera or arrange a press conference or a protest.