Friday, October 09, 2009

Is the National Equality March Worth a Trip to DC?

By now it seems silly to think that issues gay are, well, issues at all. If you live in a Bravo TV bubble like me and spend most of your day surrounded by svelte men in designer denim you'd furrow your brow in puzzlement at the thought of driving down to our nation's capital for a weekend to demand your rights. You'd ask What are we demanding? When do we want it? What does one wear for a rally?

Some people, however, don't live in a haze of indolence.

When a community is oppressed,the response to bigotry through the ages has been thus: some people will advocate for a no-sudden movements approach, hoping that gradual assimilation will sway hearts and minds, while others will want to seize the gilded gates of power, shake the powers-that-be by the lapels, and demand reparations for egregious wrongs. What everyone wants, however, is for the Red Sea to part and for the down-trodden to be delivered.

This weekend, hundreds of thousands of people will descend on Washington with such a hope as they gather for the National Equality March , a call to action by Equality Across America, "a network of decentralized organizers in every one of the 435 Congressional districts. These organizers form Congressional District Action Teams (CDATs) that will do the work on the ground in their own communities to achieve full equality." They're demanding full equality for the LGBT community, from the right to marriage to workplace protection, and they want it now.


President Obama (who can now add Nobel laureate to his distinguished resume) will address high-faluttin' gays and their sure-to-be-well-coiffed fruit flies tomorrow at an HRC dinner in Washington to lend his support for Sunday's march. While the President hasn't been parting seas for gay rights as much as skipping toward the water and then scurrying back everytime his toes get cold, it's a nice gesture.

And that's how one could dismiss this weekend's march. While I do love a parade and the spectacle of costumes and forgotten disco legends, to march aimlessly on Washington for a poorly publicized effort (I'd heard about the march earlier this year but didn't think it would really happen) seems counter-productive. At the same time, if the march is happening, and no one shows, isn't it my responsibility as an informed and concerned gay man to go? I'd almost hazard the trip but I'm traveling to LA for work this weekend. HONEST!

Elder statesman and gay patriarch Barney Frank has called the march "useless." Calling instead for the mobilization of gay activists to educate their local representatives on the importance of their issues, Frank, in an interview with the Washington Post, asked the gays to choose their battles: "'We don't have the votes to [repeal] DOMA,' he said, referring to the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law explicitly stipulating that marriage is between a man and a woman. 'We do have the votes to pass hate crimes, the employment non-discrimination acts and get domestic-partner benefits for federal employees. To divert energy for that, to a bill we have no possibility of passage, doesn't sound smart to me.'"

The time for action, when faced with injustice, has always been now. A group can't idle in the petty allowances made by politicians who have no right to dictate who is more American and more entitled to the rights of citizenship. With our right to existence on the balance, with our legitimacy of our citizenship the subject of debate and when lies are being spread about our community's alleged attempt to rob America's children, it is time to seize the capital and (politely) shake some sense into our leaders. This should be a non-issue but too many people on the right are making careers out of keeping the gays down. It has to stop. Now.


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