Cambridge vigil for LGBT rights

By Keith Rosenthal

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--About 40 people held a vigil here before the opening-night screening of the new movie Milk in support of the newly resurgent movement for gay rights.

Milk is based on the story of Harvey Milk, the pioneering gay rights activist of the 1970s and the first openly gay politician elected to major office in the U.S. Milk was assassinated in 1978 by Dan White, a one-time San Francisco supervisor and anti-gay bigot.

The event was organized by the recently formed group Join the Impact-MA. Initially formed in the wake of the passage of the anti-gay Proposition 8 in California, the group has been very busy ever since.

In recent weeks, the group has organized a 10,000-person protest in Boston (built mostly through the social networking Web site Facebook), a 100-plus person march in Cambridge, and weekly meetings of 20 to 30 activists. Though gay marriage is already legal in the state of Massachusetts, Join the Impact-MA is organizing around issues of transgender inequality and the repeal of the federal anti-gay law, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

While recognizing a place in the movement for more lobbyist-oriented groups such as the Human Rights Campaign, Join the Impact-MA sees its role as organizing mass actions, protests and grassroots meetings. The next major initiative the group is preparing for is the national "Join the Impact Day of Action" against DOMA, called for January 10 at Boston City Hall.

Chris Mason, one of the leaders of Join the Impact-MA, summed up the mood of this new movement:

"This struggle is long overdue. The [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] LGBT movement has grown complacent recently, but the passage of Proposition 8 set off a spark that's become a fire all across this country. This could be the start of the big push for full LGBT equality.

What's important is that we are demanding these rights and that we're not gonna take it anymore. We're not going to sit back and wait for the courts or the legislators to decide these issues--we're going to fight back on our own."

For more information visit Join the Impact-MA.