I had the chance to attend the National Equality March in Washington, DC this past Sunday. Around 150,000 gay, lesbian, and transgendered people (along with numerous straight allies) marched from the White House to the Capitol in support of equal rights for all Americans. The March came a day after a passionate speech by the President in front of 3,000 well-heeled members of the Human Rights Campaign (noticeably devoid of concrete details and deadlines, it sounded more like another campaign speech than an address by a Democratic President with large majorities in Congress).
I think this march represents the passing of the torch. The points of power are no longer in the halls of Washington or large metropolitan areas. It’s decentralized now. You have young activists and gay people from all walks of life converging on Washington not because a national organization told them to, but because they feel the time is now. –Corey Jones, activist and blogger at Towleroad.com
More after the jump . . .
It was inspiring to witness the huge crowd and to experience the vast diversity of those involved — from kids marching with their parents to grandmothers marching with their gay grandkids. The gathering of gay rights proponents — the largest in over a decade — revealed what many already knew about the civil rights struggle of our time; the “leadership” of established gay rights organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign are at odds with the Stonewall 2.0/ Prop. 8 generation which is made up largely, but not exclusively, of people in their twenties and thirties. (Proposition 8 was the election measure that reversed California’s same sex marriage law).
Our generation is no longer satisfied with words and promises that are not followed up by action. President Clinton attended the fancy dinners and gave nice speeches; he also gave us the bigoted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy which forces hundreds out of the military annually just for being gay. He also signed the Defense of Marriage Act law which denies married same sex couples federal benefits. (Clinton has since eclipsed President Obama in his support of equal rights for all American citizens.)
Some limited progress is being made. The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act is likely to be passed and signed into law shortly. But gay people still can be fired for who they are, prevented from marrying the person they love, and denied over 1100 federal benefits given to straight couples. It was encouraging to see so many people standing up and letting their leaders know that we will fight for equality, we will fight to be treated as full citizens of this imperfect but wonderful nation.
(Note, you might think from these pictures that it was an immigration march! We were marching with Immigration Equality, a national organization fighting for equality under U.S. immigration law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and HIV-positive individuals.) Find out more about them here.
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