There was talk last fall that the National Equality March on the steps of the Washington Monument was an unnecessary waste of LGBT energy. Not anymore.
A receptive Congress and a supportive president suggested things were about to change. But with ENDA stalled, DADT postponed, and a barrage of hate campaigners belittling gay leaders as ‘fags,’ no one is saying that rally was not necessary now.
The Co Chairs of that march, Kip Williams and Robin McGeehee, are taking the battle for gay civil rights to the streets, with the formation of a group called “Get Equal.” They have the complete support of this paper in every way possible.
The talented organizers have spent months since the March on Washington, carefully putting together an effective national network of activists to battle for civil rights for the LGBT community.
They have traveled across the country, held retreats with young leaders and worked with March participants to create an entity that will fill the vacuum of the absence of a ‘direct action’ organization in our movement.
Seeking a broad and inclusive community, ‘Get Equal’ promises to bring together people of every sex, gender, race, class, age, ability, look, religion, family status, or citizenship; those who can contribute in small ways, and those who are able to put themselves on the line.
In just two days, over 2,500 young activists joined the group. Apparently, thousands more are signing up at getequal.org. You can too. Sign up for this new organization by going to the”Get Equal Facebook Page” or to their website. They also have an online store to generate revenue.
The protests are loud and many, reminiscent of forty years ago, when Democratic activists turned against a Democratic president to help stop a foreign war.
“We believe there are millions of Americans who are tired of waiting and are ready to act. Our goal is to serve and grow this constituency by helping them take strategic, coordinated, bold action to demand equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way,” wrote Williams on their website.
Without a doubt it is one of the largest organizations to form outside the Beltway of Washington, DC. In their press release this past Monday they stated:
“Emphasizing direct action and people power, the mission of GetEQUAL is to empower the LGBTQ community and its allies to take action to demand full legal and social equality and to hold accountable those who stand in the way.
“All over the country we are under attack,” said McGehee. “From the recent actions of the Attorney General in Virginia to strip away protections for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people on college and university campuses to the young lesbian student in Mississippi who is being denied the right to take her date to the prom. Nearly, every day there is a new story, but the subject is always the same: we are being bullied. We are no longer willing to sit back and wait—we want change now.”
A blog post on Qweerty said it best last week: “What HRC is engaged in is Inactive Activism. Lots of “pretty pleases” and “sir would you permit mes.” They commended Dan Choi
for his chaining himself to the White House fence to protest DADT.
Choi has spoken out against gay apathy, and overt passivity in the face of denying the LGBT community its civil rights. He declared, ““Why not now? Within the gay community so many leaders want acceptance from polite society. I think there’s been a betrayal of what is down inside of us in order to achieve what looks popular, what look enviable. The movement seems to be centered around how to become an elite… this shouldn’t be about which group has better branding.”
Choi commented to Newsweek: “There is a tremor right now in every gay and transgender youth that these groups are not grasping. I would say to them—you do not represent us if all you are looking for is a ladder in to elite society. .. what are you willing to sacrifice? We are tired of being stereotyped as privileged, bourgeois elites. Is someone willing to give up their career, their relationships with powerful people, their Rolodex, or their parents’ love to stand up for who they are? I’m giving up my military rank, my unit—which to me is a family—my veterans’ benefits, my health care, so what are you willing to sacrifice?”
My analysis, based on history, is that we are at the nadir of a new activist revolution, and the battle is going to be taken where it belongs, to the streets, and away from the fancy cocktail parties. A younger generation of leaders is about to emerge and put an end to the delays and denials and unjust postponement of civil rights we were always entitled to. And so it should be, and so should you be with them. Put away the tuxedo, ditch the cocktail, and grab a sign, joining the protests in front of the White Houses in your community too.