Gays: 'We will not back down'
Vowing not to back down from urging Obama to follow up on his campaign promises to gays, many gay activists view Sunday's March for Equality as just the beginning.
They want President Barack Obama to follow his words with actions and end the discriminatory "don't ask, don't tell" policy of homosexuals in military service, and to take a stance on the Defense of Marriage Act.
The United States seems to have its own resistance to the gay rights platform which is seen less in Canada and Europe. For an interesting take on this, see this Huffington Post essay: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/12/nbc-reporter-obama-white_n_317081.html
WASHINGTON — Rainbow flags fluttered above the crowds near the White House as tens of thousands of gay rights supporters rallied to demand that President Barack Obama keep his promises to end discrimination against gays and also let them serve openly in the military.
"Hey, Obama, let mama marry mama" some chanted Sunday. Others cried out, "We're out, we're proud, we won't back down."
Some taking part in the National Equality March woke up energized by Obama's promise to end the ban on gays serving openly in the military. He made that pledge in a speech Saturday night to the Human Rights Campaign, nation's largest gay rights group.
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Sunday that Congress will need to muster the resolve to change the "don't ask, don't tell policy" — a change that the military may be ready for.
"I think it has to be done in the right way, which is to get a buy-in from the military, which I think is now possible," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.
Joining the march were 20 cast members from the musical, "Hair." They chose to let a Broadway matinee show go dark to come march and were led by the show's star, Gavin Creel.
"I take him at his word," the 33-year-old Creel said of Obama afterward. "This is just the beginning."
Those marching listened to activists such as Cynthia Nixon, a cast member from HBO's "Sex and the City," who hopes to marry partner Christine Marinoni next year; and Judy Shepard, whose son Matthew was killed because he was gay.
During a rally at the Capitol, keynote speaker Julian Bond — chairman of the NAACP — linked the gay rights struggle to the Civil Rights movement, saying gays and lesbians should be free from discrimination.
"Black people of all people should not oppose equality, and that is what marriage is all about," he said. "We have a lot of real and serious problems in this country, and same-sex marriage is not one of them.
For Lt. Dan Choi, the day began with a jog around Washington's memorials, calling cadence at 8 a.m. with fellow veterans and supporters before joining the march. A West Point graduate and Iraq war veteran, Choi is facing discharge under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy for revealing in March that he is gay.
He appeared later at a rally in his Army uniform, a piece of black tape over his mouth.
"Many of us have been discharged from the service because we told the truth," he said.
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Redwater, Alberta, Canada