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Don Gorton: Open Letter to Critics of the National Equality March



Don Gorton is a Board Member of Join the Impact MA and former Chair of the Greater Boston Lesbian/Gay Political Alliance (1988-1994).


An Open Letter to Critics of the National Equality March

LGBT people are fortunate that the organized community is highly mobilized to preserve marriage equality in Maine. The cause of equality in the 2009 elections is well-represented in the Pine Tree State by Equality Maine and the back-up of the Equality Federation. Everyone across the country should consider how they can help the No on 1 campaign in Maine.

The National Equality March is one salutary means to advance the struggle for equality in Maine and across the country. Yet some people have pointed to the difficult Maine campaign to say, in effect, that mobilization should shut down at the national level. More than a few pillars of the LGBT  community have been running down the March saying it diverts resources from Maine. Of course they overlook the fact that the activists being turned on by the exhilarating experience of a March on Washington wouldn’t otherwise be available to fight for equality. How much better off we would be if critics of the March took the positive tack, doing everything possible to help out in Maine, rather than putting down the like-minded efforts of other equality-seeking tacticians.

Continued, AFTER THE JUMP...

Nothing in our collective struggle since 1969 has been more dispiriting than the need some gays have had to deprecate the initiatives of others seeking  the same ends. The rage-filled experience of the Gay Liberation Front in New York 1969-1971, whose members emotionally terrorized each other, cautions that one should criticize other LGBT rights initiatives and activists only where the rebuke will serve the greater good. Put-downs don’t do any good in any respect, in contrast to volunteering for Maine if that’s what you think should happen.

I share the conviction that Maine is the top priority in the near term, especially for New England neighbors of the folks Down East. Even so our movement needs to regenerate for the long-term. Movement 2.0 that started with Proposition 8 and the movie Milk is real and is drawing a new layer of activists into the struggle begun at Stonewall. These emerging Millennial Generation LGBT leaders will bring the dream of equality in all 50 states to  fruition in this century.

In collaboration with our friends in Mass Equality, Join the Impact MA aims to recruit a new wave of activists who can help out the No on 1 campaign in the crucial final weeks. And win or lose in Maine, our movement will soldier forward toward the objective of full equality in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states, as long as it takes.

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  1. I agree that we must stop sniping, but more than a march on Washington, we need a march on strategy. Marching doesn't work anymore because we are not fighting against the government to give us rights we're being denied. It is the people of our country who want to hold gay rights initiatives back. The government, in this case, is on our side, and we need to change people's minds.

    Marching on Washington will not do that. We need a new strategy, a new method that will show that gay people are just like everyone else, and deserve the same rights as everyone else does.

    Posted by: Cameronj | Sep 28, 2009 2:11:04 PM

  2. All members of the community are or should be concerned about Maine. Recent polls show the pro-gay marriage side in Maine trailing (but within the margin of error) and opponents lead in fundraising by 3 to 1.

    I'm sure as a community we can have a federal and a state strategy; we certainly need both. But our time, energy and money are finite and sometimes hard choices have to or should be made.

    There is a real and immediate danger that we will lose in Maine just as we did in California. However, the practical, on the ground gains from the National Equity March aren't as clear. Hate Crimes is going to become law within the next few weeks whether we march or not and ENDA is going to get a vote before the end of the year.

    I'm afraid the National Equity March is just going to be more preaching to the choir but I hope its principle focus will be to raise money for Maine.

    Posted by: EH in SF | Sep 28, 2009 2:36:12 PM

  3. "the need some gays have had to deprecate the initiatives of others seeking the same ends."

    Anyone have any idea what he's talking about? I've certainly never seen any evidence of anything like that here!

    Posted by: KevinVT | Sep 28, 2009 4:54:27 PM

  4. Those of us who live in D.C. saw Glenn Beck turn out more than a thousand points of FRIGHT. The message is simple: get off your ass and get here 10/11. I don't care how you get here. Get here if you can.

    Posted by: Brent | Sep 28, 2009 5:31:32 PM

  5. Competitive demonstrations? Size matters? a horrible waste of resources.

    Follow the AARP and the NRA -- write your congressman, donate, and vote.

    The rest is noise/masturbation.

    Posted by: BillyBoy | Sep 28, 2009 8:17:47 PM

  6. Unless Mixner, Jones, Towle, Gorton & the rest of the entitled are prepared to chain themselves to the White House fence, why bother?

    Posted by: hadassah weinreb | Sep 28, 2009 8:49:56 PM

  7. @Hadassah, not a bad idea. Hmm....

    Posted by: Derek Washington | Sep 28, 2009 8:56:02 PM

  8. Marches can make a difference, even in this day and age. They get people mobilized and energized. They provide good PR opportunities and show Americans that the gays are not going to sit quietly at the back of the bus waiting: we demand our equal treatment under the law NOW.

    That said, please ALSO support No on 1 ( and Yes on 71 (

    Washington's Yes on 71 campaign is running on a shoestring budget and really needs our help.

    Posted by: David R. | Sep 29, 2009 1:25:24 AM

  9. Right on you can help Maine from where ever you live. By signing up with Phone for Maine and you can phone bank from your home if you have a computer and a phone. Its a great system and easy to use.

    check phone bank someone will get back to you

    Posted by: Michael | Sep 29, 2009 1:07:06 PM

  10. The March was DOA because nobody (especially the organizers) ever demonstrated any valuable "results" that would come from this antiquated idea of "marching."

    I don't expect the March to attract more than 20,000 people. That is worse than no March, because it is embarrassing. No show of strength or solidarity.

    I agree with the many comments that suggest what we really need is a "strategy," because we're all pissing in the wind and "where" we are pissing is of no consequence.

    Let's hope Cleve retires.

    Posted by: Andrew | Oct 2, 2009 12:51:51 AM

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