Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith is Co-Chair of the National Equality March scheduled for Oct 11 in Washington D.C. and served as Co-Chair of the 1993 March On Washington.
We stand at the brink, at a moment of unprecedented possibility in the fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality across America.
All our legislative victories so far have come at the state and local level where we have secured anti-discrimination laws, hate crimes provisions, school bullying prevention measures and
domestic partner protections and now, in six states, marriage recognition.
While have seen Supreme Court victories and have defended against some federal legislative attacks, in the 40 years since Stonewall, not a single piece of federal legislation has passed
that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
For the first time in our lifetimes, that is about to change.
For decades, passage of pro-equality legislation has been blocked in Washington by hostile leadership in the House, Senate, the White House and often all three branches of
government at the same time.
But now, because we have invested in state and local work, increasingly lawmakers arrive in DC from places where pro-equality legislation has existed for years.
They have come up through city councils that passed anti-discrimination protections. They have served in state legislatures that approved anti-bullying bills. They have sought the endorsement of LGBT state and local and national groups and have seen our vote decide the outcome of tough elections. How much harder for them to ignore the pro-equality voting bloc or
argue that the protections their own constituents enjoy should
not be provided to all 50 states?
We have allies in leadership in the U.S. House and Senate who committed to stand and fight for equality.
And finally, we have a President who has asked us to hold him to his promise of being a
On all the issues that effect our lives, we have public opinion either overwhelmingly our side or beginning to move decisively in favor of equality.
But we must bridge the gap between campaign promises and political courage.
This is a window of opportunity that will not stay open indefinitely and what we do now matters a great deal.
That is why I support Oct 11th as a National Day of Action.
That is why I agreed to serve as co-chair of the National Equality March in DC specifically tasked with helping ensure that the events in DC are linked with action taking place across that
For individual participants, a march on Washington can be a chance of a lifetime to feel strong, connected and engaged.
It is a place to remember that for all of our technological connectedness, the willingness to get up, go out and show up retains its own unique power in a democracy.
For a movement, a march offers the chance to speak with focused urgency of the need for real change now, and to energize our community for the work that continues back home.
My first march in 1987 was a mind-blowing, life-altering experience that shattered the isolation I grew up with in the conservative Panhandle of Florida. I co-chaired the 1993 March
on Washington that drew a million people to DC at a time when the internet was a strange and intimidating new tool to most of us.
I accepted the role as co-chair of this march because, after years of political gridlock in DC, I believe this is a moment when new energy, new organizing tools and new ideas can infuse
this movement and take us to our destination at accelerated speed.
I accepted the role because I believe we must bring together the infrastructure, discipline and experience of seasoned organizers with the energy, impatience and breakthrough thinking of new activists.
Our movement needs the best of both worlds to issue a clarioncall that the rights some of us have won in some cities and states must now extend across our entire country. That children
in Mississippi deserve the same protections as those in Massachusetts. That partners in Florida deserve the same legal recognition as those in Iowa.
Marching for Equality in DC and at Home
Because Oct 11th is also National Coming Out Day, many organizations are already planning major events. In Florida, Orlando's Come Out with Pride event will draw 40,000 while the
Tampa International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival will draw
tens of thousands for a week of amazing films.
So on Oct. 11th, whether you head to Washington or to a rally in your own hometown, be a part of this National Day of Action and let your voice be heard. Commit to phone banking to repeal Florida's shameful anti-gay adoption ban or to help keep marriage legal in Maine. Go out to a National Coming Out day event. Renew your membership in the organizations fighting for equality everyday.
Most of all take action to make sure your voice is heard from City Hall to the State Legislature to our Nation's Capital to secure full equality under the law in all 50 states. These are not privileges we hope one day will be bestowed. These are self-evident rights that we must demand our government recognize.