Ben Finzel

Why I Will March in October

Filed By Ben Finzel | September 14, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement

I began life as a dyed-in-the-wool 60's liberal. My parents took me to the first march on the Pentagon during the Vietnam War, I was at Martin Luther King's last speech in Washington, D.C. and I participated in the big 1993 March on Washington for LGBT rights. Knowing that, you'd think I would have been one of the first people in line to support this fall's next march on Washington on National Coming Out Day.

I wasn't. In fact, I've been conflicted on the idea and the wisdom of a march for months. My first reaction was "of course we should march: now is the time to keep the pressure on AND take advantage of our gains in recent months." But I was also swayed by the sensible arguments that organizing a march takes more than announcing it and assuming everyone will follow along, even if they weren't consulted and they feel that other strategies might make more sense.

After much thought (and review of a few Bilerico posts and Michelangelo Signorile's recent Advocate article), I've decided that my first reaction was the right one. It's too late to argue about the specifics of where the march came from, who organized it, whether it competes with other priorities, etc. It's going to happen. Turning our backs on the march now threatens our future ability to successfully organize around the critical national, state and local issues that demand our united attention and action.

Yes, we need to continue to focus on important state and local initiatives (marriage efforts in Maine and the District of Columbia come to mind). And yes, we need to continue to engage on national initiatives such as an end to "don't ask, don't tell," passage of a fully-inclusive ENDA, repeal of DOMA, full funding for the Ryan White Act, etc. But we also need to demonstrate that we have the maturity and ability as a community to come together on the national stage. We need to throw our weight around a bit.

And that's why we should march. To fully and visibly demonstrate who we are, what we care about and why we deserve full equality. It's not an either or situation - action in the states or action in DC. It should be both. Yes, that's a lot of work. But we don't have the luxury of choosing our battles. We must be everywhere and do everything we can to shatter the myths and lies that too easily take root in the American consciousness.

I live in DC, so it's not much of a stretch for me to march - it's just a subway ride away. But, I hope that those who can, will. And for those who can't, I hope that you will keep up the pressure in any way you can. We're all in this together and we can't forget that.

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