May 20 2009

1979_march As this Administration sits in offices plotting timeline charts on what rights they feel comfortable granting us this year, clearly it is time for us to gin up our efforts and stop waiting for them to hand us our God given entitlements. Enough. I really can't stomach any more being told 'not now'. As nice as it would be, no one is going to give us our freedom; we are going to have to continue to fight like hell for it. It is demeaning to us to be moved around on a political chess board like freedom is a move in some game.

We have to stop it.

Let's never forget that we are not talking about just another piece of legislation nor just an executive order. What is at stake is over 1,000 rights, benefits, privileges and protections granted to all other Americans and denied to the LGBT community. It is about the ability of those who choose to serve their country can do so in total honesty and freedom. That the vision of America is for our young as well as other young Americans. Finally as we work toward full equality we must halt in its tracks the efforts of a number of our fellow citizens to put in place a system of Apartheid for LGBT citizens. The stakes are way too high for them to tell us to wait until next year, or even until the next term.

Our freedom can't be negotiated in the political offices of the White House and in the halls of Congress. Our goal is not to make their path easier but to ensure that young LGBT citizens will not be beaten, denied the right to serve, have their love demeaned in some sort of separate but equal system or excluded from giving their gifts and talents freely to this nation. At this moment, there is very little movement on any of these issues in the White House and it appears that some even believe we should be happy with just hate crimes legislation being passed this year.

I adore President Obama but not enough to allow his team to delay my freedom for political convenience or comfort. It is unacceptable.

My plea is for our LGBT leaders to call a March on Washington for Marriage Equality this November and if they won't do it, I appeal to our young to come together and provide the leadership.

We need to come together in a display of powerful community unity to empower our young and to show the nation that anything less than full freedom is unacceptable. Clearly there are other issues that should be on the agenda for the march but marriage equality is the lynchpin that deals with so many of those issues. The most striking outside that institution would be the freedom to serve in our nation's military - and that weekend I think we could have a separate powerful event to highlight that.

Having organized a number of major marches in my near 50 years of activism, I don't take this call lightly. Trust me, I know that there are times when such marches are ineffective and poorly timed. Yet, I have also seen them be extremely effective both in message and building momentum within the movement. For the first time, we have the opportunity to have tens of thousands of our straight allies and straight students join us and we should organize the march to make it easy for them to be by our sides.

My experience has taught me the secret to any march is to keep the message simple and to make it easy for others to join. Of course, our best organizers must be enlisted in order to ensure that hundreds of thousands attend in an orderly and safe fashion.

Tapping into my previous work, I would suggest the following for consideration: On the Friday before the march 12,000 (approximately the number of our service people that have been dismissed under DADT) led by our veterans walk single file from the Pentagon to the White House until all 12,000 are across from the White House. Let the nation see visibly how many of our citizens have had their careers destroyed while the military allows convicted felons to serve. I would love to see 12,000 across from the White House chanting "Let US Serve."

One of the lessons from previous marches is that everyone should be on the Mall by no later than 3PM. We should not let logistics prevent people from getting to the Mall or otherwise they won't be counted. Everyone must be present before the evening news has to develop their stories. Each marcher and organizer should be told that every single person has to be on the Mall from 2PM to 3PM in order for us to have a success. How they choose to do that I will leave to the organizers.

Watching press secretary Robert Gibbs dodge and duck answers on LGBT issues while it seems almost every other group and issue is being discussed is so depressing to me. The promise of the Democrats being in control was great. They still can rise to greatness. It is not too late but they need our help in lifting them out of their own fears and into the light.

President Kennedy had to deal with a recession, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis and so much more. However, when Dr. King and others filled the streets of cities around America and yes, Washington, DC, the president found the resources and time to stay by their sides. The time has come for us to remove the current administration's option of shrinking from leadership on this issue and to insist they rise to a new level of greatness along side us as we all fight together for freedom. It is the only way.