Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Momentum Building for October 11 National Equality March

Equality Across America, the new grassroots network calling for Federal action to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, has moved forward with plans for a massive national day of action on Sunday, October 11, 2009. Major national LGBT organizations including the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), along with participation and support from the Human Rights Campaign, have endorsed the march as have local and state grassroots organizations like Join the Impact Chicago, One Struggle One Fight and Freedom Democrats of Miami-Dade.

October 11 has been observed as “National Coming Out Day” since 1988. As well, this year commemorates the 30th anniversary of the first March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. “We’re marching this October to demand action from the Federal government to protect our rights in all fifty states,” said Kip Williams, one of the organizers. “Real equality can only come from the President, the Congress and the Supreme Court.”

Equality Across America brings together veteran movement activists such as David Mixner, Torie Osborn, Cleve Jones, Anne Northrop and Nadine Smith, with new organizers like Williams and Robin McGehee, who lead the successful “Meet in the Middle” rally in Fresno, California following the California Supreme Court decision on Proposition 8. “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.”

The march in the nation’s capital is necessary to help supporters of equality focus their attention on the Federal government after decades of work at the state and local level according to Academy Award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. “The Fourteenth Amendment to the US 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.”

Lt. Dan Choi, also a member of the march steering committee, is working to ensure a strong presence by LGBT and straight veterans at the march. “The majority of Americans reject discrimination in the armed forces, it’s time for Congress and the Administration to move on this and all issues of equality for LGBT Americans.”

Equality Across America pledges more than a march and has begun recruiting volunteers in all 435 US Congressional Districts to pressure members of the House of Representatives. “We want to bring together all the different groups that support equality: young and old, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, people of all races, faiths and backgrounds from every corner of this country” said Corey Johnson of New York. “We want every member of Congress to know that there are LGBT people and our allies in every single district.”

Equality Across America has also reached out specifically to HIV/AIDS activists, interfaith leaders and Youth organizers to create independent events during the weekend in DC, as well as to state equality associations to build local actions throughout the US in conjunction with the march for those who cannot travel to DC on October 11.

"The LGBT struggle for equality is the civil rights movement of the 21st century," says pioneer activist and City Commissioner Nicole-Murray Ramirez of San Diego. Ramirez who has been a part of every national march for LGBT rights, since 1979 says, "history has proven for us to achieve full equality we must be engaged in the suites of political power and the streets of activism."

The National Equality March is scheduled to begin at 12 Noon on Sunday, October 11. The exact route of march is still being negotiated with the DC authorities. Organizers are building partnerships with other groups to create workshops, trainings, seminars and teach-ins throughout the weekend. Parties, concerts and other entertainment are being actively discouraged. “It’s not about another party, it’s about getting to work,” said Kip Williams.

The march and district lobbying campaign are directed by a national Steering Committee of over 60 members from throughout the nation, reflecting the diversity of the LGBT community. Operating under the auspices of the Tides Center, Equality Across America is a not-for-profit, tax exempt organization.

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