By almost any measure, Sunday's National Equality March was a roaring success, yet the true impact of the march can't be judged by what happened on Sunday. The true measure is what happens today, tomorrow and the day after.
First to the obvious: The turnout was amazing, particularly for an event organized on such short notice. The speakers were largely interesting. (Getting Julian Bond was a real coup, although I would prefer that he be transgender inclusive when he discusses LGBT issues. My favorites were David Mixner, Urvashi Vaid and Kate Clinton.)
Compared to Saturday night's Human Rights Campaign dinner and its largely white, heavily male crowd, the March looked to be far more diverse. Also, compared to the recent far-right tea bag march and its gun-totting, screeching crowd, the National Equality March was populated by a calm sea of reasonable souls.
And yet, I worry.
I admit that I'm prone to worry, so do take this with a grain of salt. I remain concerned about whether this march will have any impact outside of giving those who attended a nice weekend. That's because the true impact of any national march depends on whether it energizes people to work locally.
There's a paradox involved in winning change in Washington, D.C. No one wins in the halls of Congress without first winning in the neighborhoods of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, California, New York, Florida and hundreds of other places.
In cold, crass terms, we won't win until we have the political muscle to pressure 60 senators and 218 representatives in their home districts. Those are the numbers needed to pass bills through the House and Senate.
We have to be so well organized on the local level that 60 senators and 218 representatives know -- right down to their socks -- that if they vote against us, they'll be punished, and if they vote with us, they'll be protected.
Some estimates put the size of the march at up to 250,000. That's great, but the number means very little to individual senators and representatives because those 250,000 people came from all over the country.
Think about it this way: If 250,000 voters... No, let me revise that... If only 25,000 marched in the home states of 60 senators and 218 representatives, we would surely win the day.
I applaud the march organizers and speakers for doing a fantastic job of urging marchers to go home and work locally. Now, we get to see if marchers take their advice.
I was home, nursing a nasty respiratory bug, and could not attend the march, although I watched the whole thing on C-SPAN. I'm curious to hear from those who went. What do you think?