Editors' Note: Guest bloggers Kip Williams and Robin McGehee are the Co-Directors of the National Equality March.
As Co-Directors of the National Equality March scheduled for October 10-11 of this year, we were moved yesterday by Toni Broaddus's post reminding us of the hard work and victories for equality at the state and local level over the past three decades. And as Southerners, born and raised in Mississippi and Tennessee, we are children of inequality states. We know the pain and demoralization of hard work at the local level in the conservative South.
We have deep respect and admiration for all those who have done that hard work. Their struggle has given us a handful of rights in some states. But we are still not equals.
Toni is right. The state strategy is not a failed strategy. The piecemeal strategy is the failure.
LGBT people are equals in every way, and like everyone else, we are guaranteed equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. But over those past three decades, the fight for equality has been fractured. We have poured resources into certain battleground states, but we have ignored and under-resourced many of the states that most need help - states like Mississippi and Tennessee, who will not see real equality in the next three decades at this rate. Even the few important victories at the state level are imperfect and impermanent, as we saw in California last November when voters passed Proposition 8 and stripped our rights away at the ballot.
Meanwhile, equality at the federal level has been subdivided into a laundry list of confusing and incomplete legislation. We have prioritized some rights over others. We have bargained and compromised, but we still have not passed one piece of legislation at the federal level.
No more compromises, and no more fractions of equality. We are equals.
As a free and equal people, we should respectfully look back to 1963 for our strategy. That's when the movement for African American civil rights turned its focus to our nation's capital. In under six weeks, Bayard Rustin and others organized a march on Washington to demand civil rights. That march - and that demand - was by all accounts a turning point.
We're at a turning point now, too. We are building critical mass in the culture of this country. We have a Democratic majority in the House and Senate. More importantly, we have a President who acknowledges and respects our community. He has committed to be a fierce advocate for equality. But for him to succeed, we have to start acting like equals.
Free and equal people do not bargain or compromise. We have one demand, promised to us by the 14th Amendment: Equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states. Now.
Join us on October 10-11 for the National Equality March in Washington, DC. Get involved with the Equality Across America network now by finding a local Congressional District Action Team on the map on our website. If there's not a team in your area, we can help you start one.
We will return home to our Congressional District Action Teams to do the hard work at the local level. People in every Congressional District across the country must come out, stand up, and take our place in the rank and file.
We are the ones we have been waiting for.