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September 25, 2009

 

A single donor covers half of Equality March’s budget

Washington, D.C.--A Utah gay advocate has donated $100,000 to the October 11 National Equality March, estimated to be half of the budget for the event.

Bruce Bastian already gave $70,000 and said he plans to donate an additional $30,000 because he believes that it will engender more people stepping up to fight for LGBT equality.

The march, and an accompanying rally on the west lawn of the Capitol, will be held on Sunday, October 11. It will be the fifth national march for LGBT equality; the others were in 1979, 1987, 1993 and 2000.

On Saturday, October 10, a related conference will cover all aspects of LGBT advocacy, from youth to AIDS to repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The march will begin at noon on Sunday, and it is expected to last around two hours. The post-march rally will be in the same location as President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Organizers refused to posit a guess as to attendance, but Park Service recommendations suggest one portable toilet for every 300 attendees. The National Equality March has ordered 300 port-a-potties and an additional 60 wheelchair-accessible units, reported the Washington Blade.

While the formula would then put predicted attendance at around 100,000 people, march planners point out that the Park Service suggested the 360 units.

Organizers were criticized during the early planning for the march, facing accusations that in a troubled economy, many people would be unable to afford the trip, and that it could well siphon funds that would otherwise be spent fighting anti-gay ballot measures in Maine and Washington state.

However, especially in the case of Maine, planners pointed out that it would be a perfect venue for those trying to keep same-sex marriage in the state to bring their travails to a national stage.

Lead organizer Cleve Jones, one of the creators of the Names Project AIDS Quilt, said in a conference call on September 14 that there will be an impressive lineup for the rally, with some “spectacular” speakers, but that the program would not be announced until it is finalized.

Jones told the Blade that “we do have some amazing people confirmed, including [NAACP board chair] Julian Bond, Matthew Shepard’s mother Judy, Lt. Dan Choi and Dustin Lance Black.”

Black, the writer behind the screenplay for the biopic Milk, won the Academy Award for best original screenplay at this year’s Oscar ceremony. Choi is an activist advocating the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

The ultimate goal of the march is simple, according to Jones: complete civil equality for LGBT people in all 50 states.

“We are trying to change the strategy. We are doing this because we are tired with the endless state-by-state, county-by-county, city-by-city, hoped-for victories that, even when achieved, are incomplete and impermanent,” he said.

Full information on the march, rally and conference are available online at www.nationalequalitymarch.com. Chartered buses are planned to bring people to Washington D.C. from across the Midwest.

Ohio information is at http://2009EqualityMarch.org,  or email contactjack@earthlink.net.

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