BY Michelangelo Signorile
October 22 2009 2:40 PM ET
The National Equality March, which Time magazine estimated brought roughly 200,000 people to the National Mall earlier this month, was such a huge success even before it happened that we must plan another one — even if it never happens. That’s because we’ve learned a few things in this first year of Barack Obama’s presidency.
First off, this administration responds to pressure, and unlike the previous Democratic administration, these White House officials cannot contain our discontent by going to groups like the Human Rights Campaign or politicians like Barney Frank (more on that and the reasons why farther down).
They want to keep LGBTs at arm’s length, but we continue to make that difficult, and we force them to move — ever so reticently — each time we have applied pressure.
Sure, it was dispiriting to realize that after electing Obama we have to make a lot of noise to get even a little attention, but hopefully we’ve gotten over that: They’re politicians, they must be pressured, and there is absolutely no downside to pushing them hard.
The successes of the march began when the president decided to address our issues days before the march, agreeing to speak at HRC’s annual dinner. Just as he decided to commemorate Stonewall back in June, inviting gays to the White House after much public criticism of the administration’s dragging its feet, the president was responding to the marchers’ criticisms. The speech didn’t outline any new details on how the president would follow through on his promises, but he did spend a bit of capital just by speaking to a gay group — and doing so with much more passion than any time before, and saying a few things more emphaticall y— and sending a message via the televised coverage to the mainstream and to the opponents of LGBT rights.