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Cleve Jones Joins Call for National LGBT March on Washington D.C.


Guestblogger CLEVE JONES: Exclusive

Cleve Jones is a longtime LGBT rights and AIDS activist and author. He conceived of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in 1983. He worked as an intern in Harvey Milk's office in 1978.

Response To David Mixner's Call For A National March On Washington For LGBT Rights

One of the great pioneers of our movement, David Mixner, has issued a call for a national march on Washington, D.C. this fall. In his call to action, David powerfully articulates the frustration and impatience growing among supporters of LGBT equality throughout the United States.

Jones Over the past six months I have been contacted by many of the emerging new leaders of the grassroots movement created in the wake of Proposition 8, some eager to organize a march on Washington. Up until now, I have discouraged plans for a march, based mostly on my memories of the cost and difficulties of previous marches. I also had high hopes for our new President and the Democratic majority in Congress.

As I write this, we in California are still waiting for the State Supreme Court's decision on Proposition 8. Today is the 30th anniversary of the White Night Riots and tomorrow is Harvey Milk's birthday. Next month we will observe the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion and the birth of the modern LGBT Movement.

Across the country, a new generation of LGBT leaders is rising up, learning how to organize, speak out and fight back. These young activists reject compromise and delay; “the tranquilizing drug of gradualism,” described so aptly by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They are demanding nothing less than full equality under the law for LGBT people in all fifty states.

Continued, AFTER THE JUMP...

In my travels throughout California and around the country, I have been stunned and inspired by the determination and fearlessness of our young people. This is the generation that is going to win. This is the time to unite and push - as we have never pushed before - to achieve victory.

Sadly, at the very moment we are poised to reach our greatest goals, President Obama and the Democratic leaders of Congress have turned their backs, forgotten their promises and betrayed our trust. In recent weeks House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stated that repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act is “not a priority.” President Obama has ignored the appeals of brave young people serving in our military as they are drummed out of the services for being gay or lesbian. Indeed, Lt. Daniel Choi who recently “came out” publicly, was dismissed from the army, even though he is a highly valued fluent Arabic speaker and a veteran of the Iraq war.

Apologists for the Democrats counsel caution and patience. They speak of “political reality.” The time has come to change that reality.

I applaud and endorse David Mixner's call for a national march with the following four suggestions:

— Schedule the march for the weekend of October 10 - 11, 2009. This is National Coming Out Day and the 30th anniversary of the first national march. Several subsequent marches and AIDS Memorial Quilt displays have also occurred on those dates. The Columbus Day holiday provides a three-day weekend for many and the weather is generally favorable.

— Have one demand only: “Full Equality Now - full and equal protection under the law for LGBT people in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states.” Let's stop settling for fractions of equality. Every compromise undermines our humanity. We must declare our equality.

— Organize the march from the grassroots with a decentralized internet-based campaign. Keep it simple; avoid bloated budgets and cumbersome structures. The primary objective must be to turn out the largest possible crowd. We don't need elaborate and expensive staging or fabulous dinner parties and concerts - we need a million or more people in the street demanding equality now.

— Encourage and enlist our allies in the broader progressive movement to build the march. Involve the labor movement, racial, ethnic and immigrant communities, progressive faith leaders, peace and social justice advocates and other supporters. LGBT people of all ages and races recognize the challenges facing our nation and our planet. We are eager to stand, as equals, with our fellow citizens in meeting these challenges.

We are on the verge of a new chapter in the history of our country and our movement. There is a bold new spirit and a powerful new resolve within our communities. Now is the time. We are equal.

(cleve jones image - bkusler on flickr)

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  1. So Cleve Jones is outright saying a March on Washington only became a good idea when an old, rich, white man suggested it?

    I can't tell you how much that alone turns me off to the idea.

    Posted by: ohplease | May 21, 2009 10:23:34 AM

  2. Sign me up. I am an art director in Chicago and I would donate my time in helping get out the word and organizing local participation. The LGBT community is full of highly talented, vocal artists and activists. We can do this. I moved from Oklahoma to Chicago five years ago to escape the prejudice and bigotry, but even in Chicago I cannot marry my partner of 15 years. It is wrong. And it will never change until we demand that it must. With one very loud voice.

    October 10-11, 2009. Washington, DC. National Coming Out Day.

    Posted by: Daniel | May 21, 2009 10:34:23 AM

  3. HERE HERE! And its about time everyone realizes that the silent passive fight just won;t work. We need to band together and show our numbers and DEMAND what should rightfully be ours and not be moved into complacenty by the crumbs they throw us here and there.

    We need to stand TALL. Stand PROUD. And Demand NOTHING LESS than FULL and Equal RIGHTS and RECOGNITIONS!


    Posted by: Jeff | May 21, 2009 10:34:50 AM

  4. I will be there and ready to raise Hell! Gradualism hasn't worked. It's time to get in their faces!

    Posted by: NObamaNObetter | May 21, 2009 10:36:13 AM

  5. ohplease : I don't think it's because it's an old rich white guy. He does have a history of being a notable activist. (Not saying I agree with him on everything).

    Posted by: JT | May 21, 2009 10:41:09 AM

  6. I think a March on Washington is an appropriate action. I would hope it is an actual march and not a parade - at the last march there were more people on the sidelines watching as if they wanted to be entertained.

    And a message to OHPLEASE, stop being part of the problem, get over it - and don't respond with some smartass comment. Get busy and start organizing your non-white, non-rich, non-old white men friends and march.

    Posted by: Randex | May 21, 2009 10:46:56 AM

  7. I'm there!!!!

    Thank you Cleve Jones. . .

    Posted by: JohnVisser | May 21, 2009 10:47:10 AM

  8. I'm in.

    Posted by: JohnInManhattan | May 21, 2009 10:54:09 AM

  9. Ohplease, your comment is just a blatant attempt to stir up another tired black vs white dialogue on this site. Stop stirring the pot you troll.

    Jones' post is not in that spirit at all. Don't try to divide us with your petty remarks.

    Posted by: doc | May 21, 2009 10:54:58 AM

  10. I'm there!! It's about time we showed America that we will not be denied!

    Posted by: JerzeeMike | May 21, 2009 10:57:08 AM

  11. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. It is exactly the right time for this.

    Posted by: rascal | May 21, 2009 10:58:11 AM

  12. Excellent, but this is going to take all of us working very hard. This is going to involve massive organizing at the grass-roots, using that organization to get big hitters on our side (ACLU, NAACP, MoveOn, SEIU, SLDN, etc., including, yeah, HRC; I don't like them either but they have resources we will eventually need). We have to get started now as the season of Pride festivals are upon us and we need to start getting people on board.

    Posted by: Alex | May 21, 2009 11:00:49 AM

  13. I agree with Cleve Jones and David Mixner. It's time for a march.

    Posted by: Terry | May 21, 2009 11:03:45 AM

  14. @ OHPLEASE
    I'll let the others be polite and say shut your snarky hole you little twat. Guys like Cleve Jones got us where we are today. He explained why he was willing to give Obama a chance and why it didn't work. That's called logic. Try it sometime.

    Posted by: MikeMick | May 21, 2009 11:04:13 AM

  15. I'm all in!

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | May 21, 2009 11:07:01 AM

  16. I don't think I can make it to DC in November, but I'd love to donate some money to make it possible for others to go.

    Posted by: Marco | May 21, 2009 11:09:21 AM

  17. Absolutely. But the organizing needs to start now if we really want to make this work; groups at the community level need to make this happen. We need to recruit our straight allies to come there with us.

    We need to make this happen.

    Posted by: Dan E | May 21, 2009 11:23:49 AM

  18. i'm there!! cleve jones is the man!!

    Posted by: matt | May 21, 2009 11:24:44 AM

  19. I'm there, and will organize as many people as possible to come with me

    Posted by: JCashell | May 21, 2009 11:28:16 AM

  20. Here's some thoughts from Chicago. Let's make sure the march has legs to carry the spirit forward after the main event. I'd suggest a few more strategic actions and objectives to the fine list Cleve Jones offered.

    In concert with the march let's plan for participants to visit and lobby at the offices of their senators and representatives. For the many supporters in who can't get to the march in Washington (the cost!), we should target similar lobbying actions at the local offices of our elected officials. We need to remind these people that we are VOTERS and we will hold them accountable!

    I know that we've got some great organizations here in Chicago who can be effective advocates for our message.

    Posted by: Michael J. Harrington | May 21, 2009 11:38:52 AM

  21. This won't be an assinine pride parade. I'm fired up enough to bring some REAL energy (and everyone I possibly can) to the capitol.

    Posted by: Jersey | May 21, 2009 11:41:31 AM

  22. Fucking yes. I'm in for a dust up. Sign me on.

    "This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy."

    Martin Luther King - from the "I Have a Dream" oratory.

    Posted by: Anonymus Rex | May 21, 2009 11:44:59 AM

  23. It's about time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. Let's make it happen!

    Posted by: Darian Aaron | May 21, 2009 11:45:44 AM

  24. I'm glad to see Mr. Jones encouraging the simple, yet broader message of "Full Equality Now." While marriage is important to me, if its the "March for Marriage Equality" that Mr. Mixner envisions, it will end up being a march of predominantly white gay men and white lesbian women, kids in tow. Nothing wrong with that (I'd be there!) but we all know our second class citizenry is a bit more complex than not being able to get hitched.

    Posted by: Andrew Ansel | May 21, 2009 11:45:52 AM

  25. Let's go! I marched on Washington is 1994 and it is time to do it again. The time is (urgently) NOW!

    Posted by: Jim | May 21, 2009 11:46:20 AM

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