(RNS) Tens of thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their allies rallied at the foot of the U.S.
Capitol on Sunday (Oct. 11) to push for federal recognition of same-sex marriage.
Rainbow-colored outfits and flags adorned many marchers, who held signs calling for equality, an end to bigotry and “segreGAYtion.”
After starting outside the White House, the throngs of marchers cheered outside the Capitol as lawmakers, activists and entertainers called for immediate action to legalize, or at least recognize, same-sex marriages.
Veteran gay rights activist David Mixner, who first called for the march earlier this year, said the fight for civil rights equality has simply taken too long.
“We are looking at gay apartheid,” said Mixner. “There’s one set of laws for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and one for everyone else. Oh no, you don’t!”
Lt. Dan Choi, a West Point graduate who was discharged under the Pentagon’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, said the fight would be worthwhile, no longer how much time or effort it took. “I’ve fought for many things,” he said, “… love conquers all, love is worth it.”
Other speakers included “Sex and the City” actress Cynthia Nixon, pop singer Lady GaGa and Judy Shepard, whose son, Matthew, was killed 11 years ago in perhaps the nation’s most notorious anti-gay hate crime.
Many of the speeches focused on an emerging gay youth movement that will soon assume leadership from older activists who cut their teeth on the Stonewall riots 40 years ago and, later, in the fight against AIDS.
Student activist Ayanna Ford said it’s easy to have safety in numbers when thousands of people converge on the National Mall. “How will you act alone when you are left with the company of your own conscience?” she asked.
Religious leaders, led by the Rev. Troy Perry, who founded the predominantly gay Metropolitan Community Churches in 1968, offered a benediction at the start of the rally.
The rally was the culmination of many events held by diverse organizations throughout the weekend, including a Jewish queer-themed celebration of the holiday Simchat Torah, and a workshop on how churches could best support the same-sex marriage movement.
At Washington’s All Souls Church, the Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, preached to a crowd of more than 300 on the UUA’s “Standing on the Side of Love” pro-gay campaign.
“When we are connected with each other,” he said, “we are one with God.”
The weekend of events, including President Obama’s rousing speech Saturday night to the pro-gay Human Rights Campaign, drew the ire of religious conservatives.
Obama said he would sign a “hate crimes” bill that add sexual orientation to a federal list of protected classes, repeal a 1996 law that keeps the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions, and allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.
“President Obama tried to hide his pro-homosexual agenda during the presidential campaign,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “With the election behind him and a liberal Congress beside him, he is now positioned to move forward an agenda with the ultimate goal of redefining marriage at the expense of religious liberty.”
By MICHELLE MINKOFF
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.