Gays, lesbians march on Washington, calling for full equality

12 Oct 2009

By Katherine Skiba

Reporting from Washington - Thousands of gays and lesbians claimed the streets of the nation's capital today in a demonstration demanding full equality under the law.

The National Equality March snaked past the White House and streamed down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol. Demonstrators chanted "Yes we can" in English and Spanish, resurrecting President Obama's campaign slogan, and waved signs and banners.

Organizers said the LGBT community, which encompasses lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgendered people, are not satisfied with a piecemeal approach to gaining civil rights. They are seeking "full federal equality" and singling out issues pertaining to marriage, adoption, military service and the workplace.

The demonstration took place a day after Obama addressed about 3,000 gays, lesbians and their supporters, pledging sweeping reforms including undoing both the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in the military and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The demonstration came 30 years after the first major march by gays and lesbians in the capital. Plans called for Sunday's march to conclude at the Capitol, where a rally was planned. Speakers on tap include civil-rights activist Julian Bond and Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard, the slain gay college student from Wyoming whose name is attached to just-passed House legislation to expand the definition of federal hate crimes.

The U.S. Park Police does not provide crowd counts. However, organizers had the weather on their side. The events fell on a crisp, sunny fall day with temperatures in the 60s.

In front of the White House, demonstrators chanted: "Hey, Obama, can't you see? We demand equality." Los Angeles City Council member Bill Rosendahl, the only gay elected official in L.A. city government, in an interview called it "unconscionable" for Obama not to immediately lift the "don't ask, don't tell" military policy on sexual orientation and to reinstate service members who have been booted out for their sexual orientation.

A Vietnam veteran, he wore his American Legion cap from California's Post 283.

A pair of young women wore T-shirts exhorting: "Legalize gay." Another woman, Alex Miller, 23, of Ashburn, Va., held aloft a sign paying homage to her only sister, Sam Miller, 20, a lesbian.

"Same womb. Same rights," the sign said.

Article taken from The Los Angeles Times