Why Now? Well, Will & Grace Didn’t Legislate Anything…

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A lot of people are asking, “Why now?” Is there something happening that prompted this march? It seems a bit late for a Prop 8 reaction. What’s the equalitymarch logobig deal? Why now?

It might also seem like it’s a big deal over nothing. I mean, after all, there has been a lot of progress for the queer community over the years, right?. In an article on AP, Lisa Leff reminds us how things really look today:

A Democrat in the White House. Demands for sweeping civil rights protections. Religious opponents working to undo a string of state-based victories.

That was the backdrop in 1979 when gay rights activists staged their first national march in Washington. Thirty years later, with the landscape looking much the same, thousands of advocates are preparing to rally again in the nation’s capital this weekend.

And they are demanding many of the same things: a bill to outlaw job discrimination based on gender, a law that would treat attacks on gays as federal hate crimes, and a presidential order allowing gays to serve openly in the military.

See, there is both truth and misunderstanding when one claims that there has been a lot of progress in the queer movement. Has visibility improved? Yes. Will & Grace was a huge step, but looking back, it portrayed inflated stereotypes of gay men that would no longer be well-received. Now we have an organization that even advocates on our behalf for media portrayals (rock on GLAAD!).

But just because we have more visibility doesn’t mean our circumstances have drastically improved. In fact, if you look at the headlines from the 00’s, you see the same kind of headlines you saw 30 years ago. There are hate crimes (we at least call them that now). There is police brutality in the form of bar raids. There are repeals of rights ordinances just like Anita Bryant campaigned for.

What I don’t think a lot of people comprehend is that being “accepted” isn’t enough. If we are still treated by the government as less than, than we’ll always be treated that way by society as well.

[David] Mixner said the march’s agenda is being framed as a single demand for equal rights. Organizers say they are no longer willing to quietly wait for Democratic office holders to come through on decades-old promises, believing that lawmakers’ actions should catch up to the growing acceptance of gay relationships.

That’s why this march, and hopefully the momentum it sparks, is so important. We can not and should not wait another 30 years. There is no good reason we should have to wait. We need to courageously and adamantly stand up for our rights and accept nothing less.

Check out this lovely video featuring photos created by Laura Kanter set to the music of “Courage of Our Convictions” by Julie Clark. Clark will perform her song live at the march on Sunday.

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