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National Equality March to take place in October
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National Equality March to take place in October

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

The October 10-11 National Equality March on Washington, D.C. is scheduled to take place in a little over 30 days. As the date approaches, support for the national march on Washington is building, with 140 prominent LGBT leaders and allies publicly endorsing the event, which seeks equal protection in all matters governed by law in all 50 states. The list of supporters includes strategists, media figures, elected officials and community activists, to name a few.

Gay activist and LGBT advocate Cleve Jones and the team organizing the event, Equality Across America, see the community's struggle for equality as a civil rights issue.

"The 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on July 9, 1868, and granted citizenship to 'all persons born or naturalized in the United States.' In addition, it forbids states from denying any person 'life, liberty or property, without due process of law' or to 'deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of its law,'" Equality Across America posted on their website, adding, "By directly mentioning the role of the states, the 14th Amendment greatly expanded the protection of civil rights to all Americans and is cited in more litigation than any other amendment."

According to Equality Across America spokesman Kip Williams, support for the march continues to grow with each passing day.

"We're actually seeing a lot of momentum nationally, although it's not coming from the places you might expect," Williams told SGN in an interview from his San Francisco office. "The new grassroots movement is on fire across the country right now. Though many of us are outsiders or newcomers to the national LGBT movement, we are everywhere."

He said it will be interesting to see how many people show up for the march, but says ultimately, "This march isn't about the numbers, it's about stating a new demand for the movement and allowing a new generation of activists to emerge."

Williams said Equality Across America understands not everyone will be able to make it to D.C. for the march, but says there are a number of things a person can do locally to help the effort.

"Several solidarity marches will happen across the country, such as the Seattle OUTProtest and a march across the Golden Gate Bridge," he told SGN. "We hope folks can make it to the nearest solidarity march, and we'll be posting all of these events to our website in September."

Another way you can show support, Williams said, is to mention your commitment to equality on social networks like Facebook or Twitter.

Williams said Equality Across America has been following the Referendum 71 battle going on in Washington State and said the organization has a message for SGN readers.

"We encourage folks in Washington to work with the campaign to knock on doors and get out and vote," he said.

But, he added, "We also have our eyes on the national goal of equal protection in all matters governed by civil law, so we hope to see an inspiring grassroots turnout for the Seattle OUTProtest."

Equality Across America said in a statement, "On October 10-11, 2009, we will gather in Washington, D.C. from all across America to let our elected leaders know that now is the time for full equal rights for LGBT people. We've had a moment thrust upon us by the election of President Barack Obama and the spirit of hope and change, and also by the sense of entitlement in the new generation of grassroots organizing. This march is a vehicle to a larger goal. We want to work to bridge the gap between the national organizations and the grassroots community organizers. We will gather. We will strategize. We will march. And we will leave energized and empowered to do the work that needs to be done in every community across the nation. This is only the beginning."

Echoing the statement during a speech in California, Cleve Jones said, "We will continue this fight in every state, in every county, every city and every town, but we are now determined to take this fight to the federal government, to our President Barack Obama, to the Congress and the Supreme Court of the United States."

For more information on the National Equality March and Equality Across America, visit them online at www.equalityacrossamerica.org. For information about the Seattle solidarity march, visit Seattle OUTProtest at www.seattleoutprotest.org.

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