Monday, October 12, 2009

Thousands of Gay Rights Supporters March in DC

Tens of thousands marched yesterday from the White House to the nation's Capital at the National Equality March in Washington, DC, in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender rights. March spokesman Phil Siegal, estimated the crowd at "more than 150,000" according to the Los Angeles Times.

Activist and blogger Corey Johnson told the the New York Times "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." Dave Valk, a student coordinator for the march, also told the New York Times that "There are a lot of people getting involved not just because it's a gay rights movement but because it's a generational movement. People feel like they're part of a shift, that this is important."

Prior to the march, President Obama spoke at a Human Rights Campaign black-tie gala, where he reiterated his commitment to reverse the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibits openly gay individuals from serving in the military and his support of abolishing the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal acknowledgement of same-sex marriages. Joe Salmonese, president of The Human Rights Campaign, in a statement following Obama's speech on Saturday night wrote "This was a historic night when we felt the full embrace and commitment of the President of the United States. It's simply unprecedented." The Human Rights Campaign gala and the march were two separate events.

However, the march also demonstrated a split in the gay rights movement and received variable support from activist organizations and government officials. Openly gay democratic Representative Barney Frank (MA-4) told the New York Times that "The only thing [marchers are] going to put pressure on is the grass," not the Obama administration.

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