Why I'm Marching

COMMENTARY: At first he thought the march on Washington planned for October was ill-timed and ill-advised, but Michelangelo Signorile now says there couldn't be a better time to take to the National Mall en masse.

BY Michelangelo Signorile

August 24 2009 12:00 AM ET

It's time for these new, even risky approaches, and it's time to ask for it all -- now. That's why I'm going to Washington for the National Equality March -- called for by legendary activists David Mixner and Cleve Jones -- even though, like others, I wasn't initially down with the idea. It's time the rest of us showed up on the National Mall and let Obama know that the cocktail party crowd -- the suck-ups, the sycophants, and the scaredy-cats -- doesn't represent us. We want full equal rights (or at least see a substantial commitment to moving in that direction) -- not photo ops and wine spritzers.

It's not that I was ever really opposed to the idea of a march. To the contrary, as listeners to my Sirius/XM radio show know, I've been talking about marching on Washington ever since the morning after Election Day. For me, it's been a matter of historical precedent: The black civil rights movement wisely took advantage of a window of opportunity in 1963, when Democrats controlled both the White House and Congress. Republicans could no longer be blamed for the lack of civil rights protections, and marchers knew that media attention would put pressure on the Democrats and shame them into action.

We have that same window of opportunity today.

But that's not to say I was immediately sold on this march. I didn't think there was enough time to organize (I thought we'd need at least a year) and I thought it made more sense to march when Congress was in session (rather than out on Columbus Day recess).

Activist Cleve Jones came on my show and pretty much dismissed my first argument: In the old days, yes, we needed a lot of time to plan an event of this magnitude. But with the Internet, organizing can happen at lightning speed. Indeed, the protests that popped up across the country in the weeks following the passage of Prop. 8 -- including one that I helped organize in New York City that drew more than 5,000 people -- are a testament to that.

Tags: Politics

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