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

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)