by Rex Wockner
A grassroots GLBT network called Equality Across America will stage “a massive national day of action” Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C.
According to organizers, the National Equality March has been endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches and Join The Impact, among other groups.
Oct. 11 also is National Coming Out Day, and 2009 marks the 30th anniversary of the first gay march on Washington.
“We’re marching this October to demand action from the federal government to protect our rights in all 50 states,” said co-organizer Kip Williams. “Real equality can only come from the president, the Congress and the Supreme Court.”
Organizers said the march also is supported by veteran national GLBT activists David Mixner, Torie Osborn, Cleve Jones, Ann Northrop, Nicole Murray-Ramirez and Nadine Smith, along with newer activists such as Dustin Lance Black, Lt. Dan Choi, Corey Johnson and “Meet in the Middle” organizer Robin McGehee.
“We’ve got people from the Stonewall generation to the Facebook generation working together to win real equality,” said McGehee. “We’re tired of compromises and delays.”
Black said the march will refocus attention on the federal government following decades of gay activists’ working more on state and local issues.
“The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law, but LGBT Americans are still denied that protection – now is the time to push for real equality, in all matters governed by civil law,” Black said.
Organizers say they are “recruiting volunteers in all 435 U.S. congressional districts to pressure members of the House of Representatives.”
“We want every member of Congress to know that there are LGBT people and our allies in every single district,” said Johnson.
On Aug. 12, the Human Rights Campaign issued a “statement” on the march, calling it “a starting point – not a destination.”
“I’ve heard criticism about this gathering diverting resources from existing goals such as marriage equality in Maine and New Jersey,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “It’s our intention and our obligation to ensure that in October, we amplify our energy, not divert it. … With thousands of LGBT people and allies coming to Washington to make a difference, it’s our mission to help them become the citizen lobbyists that they want and need to be.”
A list of large, mainstream GLBT organizations that do not appear to have endorsed the march would be lengthy. However, the post-Proposition 8, “Stonewall 2.0” era also is one in which grassroots activists have achieved a prominence and visibility not seen since the days of ACT UP.
The weekend also will feature workshops, trainings, seminars and teach-ins, but no officially sanctioned parties, concerts or other entertainment.
Non-political events “are being actively discouraged,” the 60-member steering committee said.
“It’s not about another party,” said Williams. “It’s about getting to work.”
The march route remains to be finalized. For more information, see http://www.nationalequalitymarch.com.