The next step in our struggle

October 7, 2009

THE NATIONAL Equality March for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender civil rights is taking place in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, October 11. This march is the next step in the struggle for full equality being fought by the new lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights movement that was born after the passage of Proposition 8 in California.

The march is being organized by thousands of grassroots LGBT activists and organizations nationwide and has one simple unapologetic demand: "Full equality in all matters of the law, in all 50 states. Now!"

The National Equality March is being organized because as Fredrick Douglass said, "Without struggle, there is no progress." LGBT people are still recognized as unequal second-class citizens by the U.S. government. The federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) denies same-sex couples federal marriage benefits; thirty-five states have passed laws prohibiting same sex-marriage; same-sex relationships are regularly torn apart by immigrant deportations because they are not given the opportunity to marry.

Since the institution of the "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy in the military over 13,000 service men and women have been dishonorably discharged because of their sexual orientation. Thousands of same-sex couples are denied adoption opportunities. Over 640,000 homeless youth identify as LGBT, and LGBT youth still have the highest rate of suicide compared to any other group.

President Barack Obama ran his presidential campaign on promises of equality and justice for the LGBT community. Yet the first African American president and the child of biracial parents still clearly says that he refuses to support full marriage equality for the LGBT community. Since coming to office, Obama has continued to make promises of equality to the LGBT community, yet continues to have his Department of Justice uphold DOMA and has refused to overturn DADT.

Obama, along with other Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Barney Frank, continue to say that full equality is not "realistic," and that we need to be "patient." Barack Obama's presidency and the new Democratic Congress have shown that change and equality will not inevitably come.

If oppressed people want the justice and equality they deserve, we must organize and fight for it. Blacks and other people of color didn't win equality by patiently waiting for it. They built a grassroots civil rights movement of millions that organized, empowered and educated people. They protested, sat in, got arrested and never stopped fighting for their vision of justice and equality. After a decade of struggling, they won legal equality and forever transformed the political and social landscape of this country.

We need to know history so that we can learn from it. As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," "Justice delayed is justice denied."

There is no reason why LGBT people need to accept the inequality, discrimination and injustice we endure. The civil rights movement teaches us that if oppressed people and their allies stand up, unite and fight an uncompromising struggle, they can win!

That is why you should help us build the largest student and faculty mobilization possible and join us in making history on October 11 in Washington, D.C., when we send our message loud and clear to those in power-"Full LGBT equality now!"
Keegan O'Brien, Boston

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