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Washington, D.C. and the Equality March
Section One
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Washington, D.C. and the Equality March

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN Contributing Writer

Did you know there was an Equality March on Washington, D.C. going on in October? Do you care? If so, you unfortunately seem to be in the minority on both cases. With a month before the march, I was in D.C. to get information and make a list of events for anyone attending. What I found was almost a complete lack of knowledge on the subject, and what little information I could gather was given with what seemed to be apathy.

Accidentally caught in the middle of the Conservative Tea Bagging protest march on September 12, I began to wonder why I hadn't heard any progress about the upcoming March for Equality with less than a month to go. After being offended by child exploitation (a 7-year-old holding a sign that said "Obama is a socialist, fascist, communist"), I started looking for any sign of our own protest, and found nothing.

I went to the website (www.EqualityAcrossAmerica.org) to make sure I had my dates correct - October 10-11 - and that the march was still being planned. The purposes of the march were outlined, and aside from contact information, there was a notice saying that a national flyer campaign was being planned across the country for Sunday, September 13. It's been over eight business days as of this writing since I sent the first of three e-mails to the people at E.A.A., and so far, not a single response. I was in the heart of DC on that Sunday and never saw a flyer. (Did any of you?) The only response I had to the march came in an unexpected way, via my Congressman Jay Inslee and his office staff.

We went to the Congressman's office to say thank-you (to his aide) for setting up a tour of the White House during our stay in D.C. The Congressman came in and introduced himself to all waiting, asking what brought them to D.C. When I mentioned the march, he said he had heard of it, but not many details. Being an extremely vocal supporter of Referendum 71, he immediately offered to set up an appointment between Brian, his chief-of-staff, and us so details and information could be exchanged. The appointment was made for the next day. "Lobbyists get only 10 minutes, so we might get five," I was warned by my friend Garth, to whose political mind I often defer. I went back to the hotel, gathered my research and organized my notes for our meeting, not really knowing what to expect.

We met Brian and the three of us sat down for our discussion. The time from the moment we started to talk to the moment we shook hands afterward was just shy of an hour. Brian not only heard what we had to say, he listened and took notes. We discussed the goals E.A.A. hopes to achieve and added personal examples to demonstrate why they were important and why Referendum 71 needs to be approved.

The Domestic Partner law in Washington is a great start. I proudly showed them my official registration card (no one there had seen one) and explained what benefits it entitled me. I also explained how it makes me feel like a second-class citizen in my own country. I have two siblings, and in my immediately family, my marriage is the longest, excluding my parents' of 50 years. In fact, my marriage has outlasted one sibling's two marriages combined, and yet they don't have to carry registration cards. We discussed my experiences of coming out in a Southern high school and the many daily discriminatory comments I received by students and faculty alike.

When we left the office, I felt that finally someone had responded. We went over each point of what E.A.A. is trying to accomplish and Brian took notes. He heard and he listened. He introduced us to other members of the staff and explained why we were there, and they listened as well. It was the first time I saw any kind of positive action about the upcoming March on Washington D.C.

I was at both previous marches in 1987 and 1993, and was proud to be in them. But then again, I had heard of them at least six months in advance and had ample time to make arrangements. The official statement for this march is "Equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states." Some of the particular points hoping to be achieved are (among others):

o The right to work our jobs and go to school free of harassment or discrimination.
o Protection from hate crimes
o The right to marry in all 50 states
o The right to serve openly in the military

Despite the short time left for planning, there are still ways to be active. If you are not going to the march, contact your Congressman. Let them hear you and know where you stand. Remember, they have no voice besides yours. There are still plenty of places to stay in DC if you are planning on going. The Dupont Hotel is located in the heart of Washington, DC's Dupont Circle (www.doylecollection.com/washington) and is offering a special of $179/night; just mention the special Seattle Gay News rate. While there, contact your Congressman and let them meet you; it makes a difference when they have a face to go with the name on a paper voting registration. And if you are taking your children, make sure they know the meanings of any signs carried.

You have a voice; use it.

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