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October 9, 2009

 

Countdown to National Equality March nears zero

Washington, D.C.--The countdown to the October 11 National Equality March has almost reached zero.

Gay civil rights advocates are scrambling to make last-minute plans to get to the nation’s capital in a display of political and social power aimed at the passage of national laws ensuring equality for LGBT citizens.

Various groups across Ohio have organized mass transportation to Washington for the event, including a bus being chartered to take people from Akron for $40. Last-minute reservations, if there is still room, are available by emailing Charlie Snyder at charlie929@aim.com or calling 330-5351708.

The Mahoning Valley Stonewall Democrats are also trying to organize a contingent. As of October 3, two options were being examined: an overnight trip for $85, or a day trip for $28. Information is available by contacting Don Rowinsky at mvstonewall@yahoo.com or 330-2076437.

Trips are also being planned through campus organizations across the state.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a letter on September 30 endorsing the march and the fight for LGBT equality.

“I write to join in your commitment to ensure equality under the law,” Reid wrote. “As Senate majority leader, I will continue to work tirelessly to pass the Matthew Shepard Hate Crime Act and the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, as well as to repeal the ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy.”

“I will also continue to advocate for funding of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, research and housing programs,” he continued, concluding, “I believe that every American should be treated equally under the law regardless of religion, sexual orientation, gender, race, or other forms of identity. I see your struggle for equality as part of a larger movement for peace and social justice.”

With the march permits now officially in hand, organizers released details of the route, with staging being held at 15th Street and I Street, near McPherson Square. Taking H Street to 17th Street, and then 17th Street to Pennsylvania Avenue, the march goes past the White House to 15th Street, then down Pennsylvania Avenue all the way to the west lawn of the Capitol for the rally.

Once there, an extensive list of speakers will address the throngs, including activist David Mixner, one of the first to call for this march, as well as co-chairs Cleve Jones, Lt. Dan Choi and Nicole-Murray Ramirez. March directors Kip Williams and Robin McGehee will also speak.

Perhaps one of the biggest names behind the podium will be Julian Bond, board chair of the NAACP and a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, an elder statesman of the struggle for civil rights for African Americans and a fervent supporter of LGBT civil rights.

“We had a dream and marched on Washington to demand our right,” Bond said in a statement released by the National Equality March. “I am proud to stand with the LGBT community as they march for theirs,”

Judy Shepard, mother of slain college student Matthew Shepard, will take the stage, as will Dustin Lance Black, Academy Award-winning screenwriter for the film Milk.

New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn is slated to talk, along with former National Gay and lesbian Task Force head Urvashi Vaid, among dozens of others.

For more information about the National Equality March, the websites www.nationalequalitymarch.com and http://2009equalitymarch.org have full details, including a schedule of the events on Saturday, October 10, which will see a full day of workshops and activist trainings.

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