The third annual Women’s March stepped off on Saturday amid calls for the organization’s leaders to step down in light of accusations that they support anti-Semitism and homophobia. At the Women's March in Washington D.C. on Saturday, Women’s March leaders Carmen Perez and Tamika Mallory publicly addressed the controversy, according to CNN.
"Over the last year, my sisters in Women's March and I have faced accusations that have hurt my soul," Perez said from the stage. "Charges of anti-Semitism and neglecting our LGBTQIA family. And I want to be unequivocal in affirming that Women's March and I and my sisters condemn anti-Semitism and homophobia and transphobia in all forms."
Meanwhile, Mallory, who’s lately been called upon to condemn the anti-Semitic / anti-LGBTQ rhetoric of Louis Farrakhan, the incendiary leader of the Nation of Islam she openly supports, shouted out to various groups of women, including Jewish women at the march. But she stopped short of addressing those in the LGBTQ community.
“To my Muslim sisters, I see you. To my Latina sisters, I see you. To my Asian sisters, I see you. To my Jewish sisters, I see all of you. I see your pain. And to my Black sisters, I see you!” Mallory said, according to CNN.
The official Women’s March has faced intense scrutiny over the organizers’ apparent support of anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, and several organizations that formerly backed the event, including the Southern Poverty Law Center and the political action committee EMILY’s List, pulled support.
Also, in recent months, individuals including formerly ardent supporters like Alyssa Milano and Debra Messing vowed not to participate in the official Women’s March after the accusations of anti-Semitism and homophobia were leveled at Mallory, Perez, Linda Sarsour, and Bob Bland.
Last November, Teresa Shook, who first conceived of the march as an answer to Trump’s election, called for those organizers to resign in light of having brought “anti-Semitism, anti- LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric” into the movement.
The turnout at many of the Women’s March events around the country this year was down from the record-breaking events that occurred the day after Trump’s inauguration in 2017. And there were fewer high-profile politicians and celebrities on hand to deliver speeches, according to The New York Times. But just how much of the lower turnout can be attributed to the controversy has yet to be determined.
Although, one wildly popular politician who made her voice known at the march was New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who championed trans women in her speech.
“Let us remember that a fight means no person left behind. So when people want to stop talking about the issues black women face, when people want to stop talking about the issues that trans women or immigrant women face, we’ve got to ask them, Why does that make you so uncomfortable?” Ocasio-Cortez said. “This is not just about identity, this is about justice and this is about the America we are going to bring into this world.”