I’ve been reading around this morning and am interested to see a few people squawking about the National Equality March (facebook | twitter) scheduled for October 11, 2009. Their squawks are dedicated to supporting the proposition that it’s better for them to stay home than to participate in this day of activism and the congressional-district-level organizing associated with it. I’m not an organizer of the march, and I don’t know anyone who is an organizer of the march (other than being aware of Cleve Jones by history and reputation), so I don’t have any nepotistic reason to take a side on the matter. I just think that a National Equality March is a good idea with current relevance and a smart local auxiliary function.
Even if I didn’t think the National Equality March was a good idea, I would be frustrated at the sniping coming from some quarters about it. I’d be frustrated because those snipes are, frankly, inaccurate. The three biggest myths I’ve seen being spread about the National Equality March are:
1. The National Equality March doesn’t even have permits / its permit application has been rejected! Myth status: Untrue. The National Equality March has obtained permits for a march and rally at the Capitol.
2. The National Equality March is all about California/marriage equality, and it’s not all about California/marriage equality, dammit! Myth status: Bizarre. See I’m-on-CNN Bil Browning for a particularly weird version of this myth, in which “it’s not all about California” makes for 4 out his 10 reasons to not want to go to the march, and “it’s not all about marriage” makes for another one. The National Equality March website doesn’t anywhere limit its goals either to California or to marriage equality. It just doesn’t. The March on Washington’s one-sentence description of itself: “Equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states.” A fuller version:
Equal Protection encompasses many issues, including:
Repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) so that every marriage in every state has the same federal rights.
Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell so that LGBT persons may serve in the military openly and with the same rights as their straight counterparts.
An end to workplace discrimination for everyone with an Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that protects everyone.
The right to adopt children and raise families like any other parents.
Hate Crimes legislation that includes LGBT people and protects us like any other targeted group.
Immigration reform that recognizes same-sex couples and ends the needless separation of families.
I don’t agree with every one of those planks in the platform (I think “Hate Crimes” legislation is unconstitutional and a waste of time, since violence is already illegal), but they’re not limited to marriage, and there’s no “Cali” or “fornia” in any of them.
3. It takes a whole year to organize a successful March on Washington. Myth status: bullhockey. As anyone who attended anti-war demonstrations in 2003 can attest, huge numbers can be brought to Washington, DC with just a couple of months’ notice. The same was true with demonstrations a decade earlier regarding the first Iraq war… the big demonstrations were put together in weeks. The 1963 March on Washington was planned and executed within one summer. These marches work and attract people to the extent that people are motivated to attend and willing to organize.
If you don’t want to go to a march in Washington, DC, then fine, don’t go. But why toss around inaccuracies? I’ll be in Washington on October 11 because the issues are timely and important. In the meantime, I’ll be participating in local activism around the issue of marriage equality where I live here in Maine. I’ll be getting active on this issue at the local and national levels, even though as a married straight man I am not personally affected this time around, because the failure or achievement of equality under law affects us all.
If you’re thinking of taking part, don’t let the nay-saying myth-spreaders deter you.