Alex Blaze

What about a 50 state march?

Filed By Alex Blaze | May 25, 2009 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: gay rights, march

Last week we discussed the possibility and calls for a march on Washington this October.

A few people brought up the possibility of a march on the 50 state capitals instead, so I thought we'd continue the conversation here on Memorial Day.

IMHO, the two main benefits would be (1)having better symbolism, visuals, and message because we'd be marching throughout the US and directing our message towards the state governments, where a lot of change will have to occur first, and (2)spending less money on travel expenses.

What do you all think?

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I love that idea! I live in my state capital, saves me money!! I would defiantly be able to make that.

I really love this idea. I think it has the potential to help our cause a lot.

I like the idea of getting more involvement by keeping it at the state level, but I'm afraid that the visuals of smaller groups marching on the State capitals will not have the same impact as an en masse protest in D.C.

Tom, I'm not so sure... The trouble is that marches on Washington have been done. Now if we don't get like well over a million of us there en masse we won't get the media's attention.

If we can actually organize 50 (+ D.C, P.R., etc) well-attended events all over the country and all on the same day, we can get national media attention because it's something different as well as a whole lot of local media attention.

A fifty-state march! YES!

Such a set of marches could achieve several important goals:

1. Prove that we are every where. Many people believe that we live only in big cities. Surely, no gay people live in their states or communities.

2. Demonstrate to many politicians that they have GLTB constituents.

3. Raise issues of fairness at levels where they can be addressed.

The downside: Organizing fifty marches for the same time is going to be super hard. And is not the kind of strategy that will appeal to national organizations, which want to head national strategies. (Besides, marches on Washington give people an excuse to travel to an interesting, exciting place. Most state capitals are less appealing destinations.)

Of course, most politicians will try to ignore these marchers. And will try to use them as wedges in appealing to hatred.

But this is a long, long war. Our opponents are not going to give up easily.

DCO in Sacto | May 25, 2009 7:31 PM

We are getting pretty damn good at it here in Sacramento... see you all tomorrow! Come join us!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 26, 2009 12:21 AM

What makes a heterosexual mother of three, retired, with problems of her own, get on the phone to her state representatives and demand rights for us? (answer at bottom)

Work from that point of view and remember how you comport yourself. The local media will smirk while telling the story and look for the most absurdly dressed person or the most outlandish behavior. I am always amazed at how we shoot ourselves in the foot at every media opportunity.

So do not make it a "Gay Pride" event with bar floats, leather chaps and glitter. It should be a peaceful protest of lack of equal rights under the law. If numbers are few in your action create a false funeral casket with the words "Matthew Shepherd" on them. Or the words "GLBT Victims of illegal discrimination." Think of a powerful visual message for television that will not make us the butt of their jokes and stereotyping. As Monica would point out march WITH THE AMERICAN FLAG as you demand equal rights under the law. Vets, wear your uniforms.

And before someone says it, I am not suggesting that men should "butch it up" or women should "femme it up." Be yourselves, as you would act and dress for a job interview, because you are being evaluated no less as much.

The little old lady will help people to whom she can relate. If you can obtain the help of even a few of those people you will have converted many more less conservative people.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 26, 2009 2:59 AM

Local actins are a good idea in rotation with a persistent round of regional and national marches. The strategy of militant mass actions is guaranteed to win equality, organized and educate our communities and cow our enemies. The loser strategy of desperate dependence on the latest Democrat version of the lesser bigot gets us Obama, whose increasingly hostile and chilly attitude seems to be focused on putting us on the back burner until the next election cycle. Then, as they did in 2007, the Democrats will dump our agenda in the name of political expediency.

It's a bad idea if it’s counterpoised to national and regional marches.

The point of mass marches is not to convert conservatives and bigots but to intimidate them and demonstrate that our ‘won’t take no for an answer’ will create social volatility until we’re satisfied. ‘De-gaying’ our efforts is always a disaster, as most recently shown by the fight against Prop 8.

As for the flag, it means different things to different people. I can’t see the point of confusing things by making it seem as if we’re a collection of pro-war rightist paytriots at a time when the national flag is being displayed over the killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Those who feel they have to inject paytriotism into a march for human rights should at least carry it upside down to indicate distress.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 26, 2009 11:03 AM

If you convert one conservative to our side of this issue you convert ten moderates and a hundred liberals.

The American Flag is our flag too. I spoke about media image in the fifteen seconds that a march would have footage on local television. We have no ability to intimidate anyone and gain nothing through any attempt to do so. That is a total failure and non starter. It must be done safely, legally and effectively. Police are hardly going to bust heads of a group who are sporting an American Flag.

It is far more effective to point to the best our country can be rather than point to the worst of what it is.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 27, 2009 1:16 AM

The statement that “If you convert one conservative to our side of this issue you convert ten moderates and a hundred liberals” doesn’t seem to be supported by the facts.

Emboldened by Obama’s blatant bigotry - “gawd’s in the mix” - moderate and liberal bigots voted against us in large numbers. That is supported by the facts.

That aside, there actually is a point to squatting down and singing Kumbaya with the DAR round the old campfire.

It lulls them while the rest of us organize focused, militant demonstrations for equality. So go for it. And don't forget to wear your stars and stripes lapel pin, just like the one George Bush wears.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 28, 2009 10:33 AM

If you like to fail, more than you enjoy succeeding, go right ahead. I do not ever recall a police officer arresting a protester carrying a properly displayed American flag.

Lapel pins?, no thank you, they are made in China.

This idea is definitely more economic and do-able than a march on Washington. It gives local groups more input and control.

I just saw the announcement by Robin Tyler and her organization, that 103 actions are planned for tomorrow, in 25 states and D.C. Twenty-five states is already pretty impressive as a spontaneous happening.

One possible drawback of so many marches, especially in red states: the law-enforcement fallout. Anyone who marches needs to get briefed on how state criminal codes have escalated the punishments for peaceful protest. It ain't like the Sixties any more. The other day I talked to a friend who was all worked up about getting his protest arrest on record, and I asked him if he was ready to face up to a year in prison for a single misdemeanor -- possibly even a felony conviction if prosecutors decide to slap him with a "conspiracy" charge. It turned out that he had no idea how punitive the laws have gotten.

Personally I think there are more effective, less risky ways of leveraging our society towards change. Legislators need to know that they will be "fired" from their jobs by angry voters if they continue to support laws that actually deny equality under the law.

A 50-state march certainly makes more sense if you want to get more people involved in these recessionary times. I might be able to swing a day trip to Austin; there is no way I could possibly manage a trip to Washington, D.C.

Also, remember the impact and publicity of the nationwide rallies for immigration reform a couple years ago? Something like this that is well-publicized, local and regional, and seems to happen everywhere -- not just way off in Washington -- has a potentially greater impact on people here at home.

Ten years ago, in late March 1999, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and nearly every existing statewide LGBT organization teamed up for a project called Equality Begins at Home. In 49 states (there was one outlier statewide org that declined to participate), advocacy events were organized to make progress on state legislative/policy agendas, whatever those agendas were in any particular state. Some marched, some rallied, some held press events, some held lobby days, some did educational/organizing presentations to LGBT people in order to bump up participation. In one week's time, between 250 and 300 different events were held in 49 states, Puerto Rico and Guam (if I remember correctly). In addition to serving as the coordinator and press contact for the unified actions, the Task Force re-granted $5000 to each state's organizing entity (some states at that time were not home to specific LGBT advocacy groups), even the group in the outlier state that declined to participate. Given that social/political change rises from the local level to the federal level, I believe that a re-do of something like Equality Begins at Home is a great idea. Doesn't need to be a project of the Task Force; there are other orgs that could lead the effort: Equality Federation, Join the Impact, CenterLink, and so on. My 2 cents.

We are American citizens without basic civil rights. It is time to march on DC. We need the hate crime bill passed, the DOMA removed, the DADT ended.
If you think it is too expensive to travel, remember what it costs us to not have the same rights and benefits that straight married couples have: social security, pensions, health and life insurance, child support, adoptions, immigration status, etc.

Thanks for the comments, all!