Cathy Renna

Are we still marching?

Filed By Cathy Renna | November 15, 2008 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: gay marriage, gay rights, marriage equality, National Day of Protest, Prop 8, Washington D.C.

My three year old asked us this as we began the long walk back to our car after the Washington, DC protest march this afternoon. It was her first protest and she was enthralled by the people, sights and sounds. She watched the first hour on my shoulders and it was priceless.

Babys1stProtest.jpgThe crowd was huge - definitely in the thousands, probably about ten thousand. The energy was great, the people diverse and it felt like I had taken a trip back in time about 15 years. Initially I felt surrounded by people much younger than me, then I would see someone I knew. Andrew Sullivan was there, as was Jonathan Rausch, along with prominent local longtime activists Mindy Daniels and Erica Gloger with their daughter and uber-PFLAG parents Lanette and Bill Graves.

But mostly we saw lots of new faces - young and older, LGBT and lots of allies and tons of diversity in all it's forms. Hell, there were even Metalheads against Prop 8, who got all Ozzie Osborn on us as we passed them.

(Click all pics to embiggen.)

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It felt good to be out in a crowd, chanting, marching and feeling like part of something bigger. Not at all like the many big fancy dinners I go to all the time. Nearly everyone had homemade signs - us included - and the messages were as diverse as the people. They all mattered and they all resonated. Some were heartfelt, some funny (my favorite: The Gay Agenda, #1 Equality #2 See number 1) and most very simple.

DCProtest1.jpgOurs was the latter: We ARE An American Family - a simple truth that we didn't see in any No on 8 ads and something that may have made the difference. Until the general public sees us as real people and not some nebulous "other" asking for what seems to them an elusive and abstract notion of equality, we will never make serious progress in the court of public opinion.

It was an inspiring afternoon. I was thrilled to see that when it suddenly started to absolutely pour the crowd didn't disperse. Out came the umbrellas, the kids in strollers were covered in their little plastic bubbles and some just got soaked (that would be me).

We all trudged through the mud puddles and grass past the Washington Monument and toward the White House. There was no stopping us - the final destination was as important as the journey. DCProtest4.jpgAs one sign said: Obama, Don't Forget Us. No matter who is in the White House, it will continue to be important to show up at the front door every once in a while.

It remains to be seen if this Stonewall 2.0 has momentum. I hope so. This afternoon made me feel like the grassroots movement that has seemed so elusive to many of our national organizations is actually there for the organizing. But that also seems like it needs to come from the bottom up, for many reasons.

One thing I do know is that our community's reaction to these recent losses seems to have an very ironic silver lining, prompting an upsurge in grassroots organizing and certainly discussion of the strategies and tactics we are employing in our battle for equal treatment under the law. This is going to be very interesting.

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great to see you and your family :)

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 16, 2008 9:17 AM

The DC rally was amazing! I had the best time at a gay event that I have had in a long time.

The DC rally amazes me. So many people. I've never seen anything like it!

Way to go Cathy, Leah and Rosemary!
I am so proud of all you are doing for equality and fairness in the world!

I was there too, and was one of those who got soaked (tried to share the umbrella with too many people). It was great to see the crowds, and the stamina of people throughout the day. I wish there had been more of a formal end to the day - most of the crowd just dispersed - but other than that it was great.