Full Equality Now

Next week, LGBT people from across the United States will be joined by family and friends in a historic journey to Washington DC to take part in the National Equality March.

In 1979, we marched on Washington to tell America we would not go away. In 1987, we marched to fight for our lives.  In 1993, we marched to prove we would survive. In 2000, we marched to claim our place in the new millennium.

On Sunday, October 11, we will once again march on Washington with the ultimate demand:

Full Equality Now.

We go to Washington to address the nation as a whole. We believe America is ready to accept LGBT people as full citizens, deserving of all rights afforded any other citizen.

We make this demand in the tradition of all those in America’s past who were told their gender, race, or ethnicity defined them as less than equal to other Americans. Each, in their own time, came to Washington to speak to the nation and its leaders, and to fight for full equal rights. We gratefully recognize that without the example of their leadership and sacrifice, it is unlikely we would be on our way to Washington at all.

Now it’s our turn.

Like those before us, we recognize the truth of Thomas Jefferson’s declaration that “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him." To paraphrase, our equality must be legally protected from those who oppose it.

We march because Congress has ignored Jefferson’s wisdom and has been negligent in its responsibility to enact laws that would end discrimination against LGBT people.  We march because courts have been slow to overrule anti-LGBT bias. We march because our nation remains littered with laws that institutionalize discrimination on the basis of gender attraction or identity. We assert that America’s leaders have a 14th Amendment obligation to end these blatant inequalities without further delay.

That includes the President of the United States.  We want him to turn his supportive words into action.  We will follow Franklin Roosevelt’s advice to petitioners: "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it."  We must show President Obama that the time for him to fulfill his promise to be a fierce advocate for equality is now.

Some have suggested that the timing of this March is flawed, and that we should place all our resources into local battles.  Yet if one looks at the history of other civil rights movements, many of the greatest gains were the result of organizing on a national level. We know our community is more than capable of working in local and national arenas at the same time. Full equality is our common goal.

Our strategy goes beyond the march itself. Proposition 8 generated a tidal wave of grassroots energy and a new generation of highly motivated LGBT activists. If that energy is not encouraged and developed, it will dissipate. We will not let that happen. The very act of organizing the National Equality March has jump-started grassroots activity in communities all across the country. We intend to maintain that network, build on it, and deliver the kind of political pressure the President and other LGBT Congressional allies will require in order to make Jefferson’s words a reality. We are convinced this new level of grassroots organizing will not only advance our national strategy, but will also generate additional support for local battles.

Join us in Washington if you can.  If you can’t go to Washington, visit equalityacrossamerica.org  to learn how to get involved locally.

Never let them forget: it’s our Constitution, too!

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