Is putting public pressure on politicians actually a viable strategy to achieve tangible results? You better believe it is! The National Equality March has proven yet again that a very large public show of strength is a powerful and effective way of prodding politicians into reengaging on issues of civil rights and equality. As the old saying goes, there is strength in numbers.
Once it became apparent that the march was indeed going to draw in tens of thousands of protesters marching on Washington to demand equal treatment under the law, politicians began to take notice and act in response to it. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid not only endorsed the march but also spoke out against the Mormon Church for funding anti-gay ballot measures (note that Senator Reid is himself a Mormon). President Obama’s golf trip got scrubbed and he gave a speech on the eve of the march at HRC that reiterated some of his campaign promises, including a repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Congress seems to be ever closer to passing a federal hate crimes bill. And the desire to now prove that the Democrats can actually achieve a tangible result and quell the rising anger of so many of their LGBT constituents serves to keep the pressure on all the more.
And on Wednesday, Tom Perez, the assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, gave his first speech to employees in which he said the division must be transformed to be capable of tackling 21st-century civil rights challenges, including gay rights. “We must fight for fairness and basic equality for our LGBT brothers and sisters who so frequently are being left in the shadows,” he said, and to “ensure that there’s a level playing field in which our LGBT brothers and sisters are judged by the content of their character.”
Lady GaGa had it right. Our movement has obviously put pressure on a lot more than just the grass of the US Capitol’s west lawn. Or as Margaret Mead once said, “Never underestimate the power of a few committed individuals to change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” (The National Equality March – Photo by AGuyNamedWayne)