Sunday, October 11, 2009

National Equality March: festive if underwhelming, on a perfect fall day

The National Equality March took place in Washington today at noon, and I arrived at the rally on the West steps of the Capitol at about 3:30. C-SPAN started coverage at 2 PM. The Main website now is “Equality Across America”, here.

The event did not seem as overwhelming and transcendent as the 1993 march (just after Andrew Sullivan had published his famous New Republic piece on “The Politics of Homosexuality”), or even the 2000 march. (As October events go, it was nowhere like the “Million Man March” of 1995. There aren't as many shorts in October.) Some of the speakers sounded more radical than at past events, almost as if “mainstream” gay organizations like HRC (at whose dinner President Obama spoke last night) and SLDN were part of the capitalist “establishment”. (The Socialist Workers Party was well represented.) Well, as far as mainstream western “democratic capitalism” that the US and Europe want to export, they probably are.

Kate Clinton spoke (I can’t quite recall her jokes how), as did Cleve Jones, and a 13-year-old from Montana.

Judy Shepard spoke, as captured by CNN.

In general, there was an impression that Obama’s speech was mostly talk with little evidence of action or quantifiable "resume accomplishments" (although, come on, the House just passed the hate crimes bill).

Rep. Barney Frank ("Bailout Barney" and "don't punish the country" -- and remember what Dick Armey -- 'dem Republicans -- called him) downplayed the March -- but, they say, Frank is a professional politician, and activism must work bottoms up, with more solidarity, however.

Later, my Sunfish cap caught the attention of someone else in the Navy Reserves, and I explained (as I do in Chapter 4 of my first book) about my own 1993 submarine visit when I was preparing to write a book (and use an indirect line to the Clinton White House). He had served on submarines and said that some subs do have openly gay sailors without problems today.

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