December 6, 2016 at 11:41 am EST | by Kevin Naff
Time for a new LGBT march on Washington
45 headlines, gay news, Washington Blade, March on Washington

National March on Washington for Gay Rights on Oct. 14, 1979. (Washington Blade archive photo by John M. Yanson)

Since the unthinkable happened last month and U.S. voters elected a racist demagogue as president, I have been inundated with emails and personal requests for reassurance. After all, we’ve seen worse – George W. Bush, AIDS, etc., right?

Indeed, we have seen worse, though the impact of a President Trump on our community is so far unclear. He has appointed a cadre of wealthy, anti-LGBT ideologues — some with no government experience — to senior advisory positions and Cabinet-level posts. Some were anti-marriage activists; at least one is a hero of the KKK. It’s hard to fathom that this is our 2017 America, but here we are. After eight years of progress — from the economic recovery to unprecedented advances on LGBT rights under our first African-American president — we’re about to take monumental steps backward. The excuses offered by Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook and others about Russian interference and James Comey’s recklessness ignore the reality that her campaign lacked a coherent message and that the candidate was deeply flawed from the beginning. In a change year, the Democrats put forward the ultimate insider politician, someone who voted for the disastrous Iraq war before apologizing for it; who supported TPP before opposing it; who co-sponsored a bill to criminalize flag burning; who was woefully late to the marriage equality fight; and who even praised Ronald Reagan’s record on AIDS.

Despite Clinton’s flaws and her campaign’s apparent indifference to Rust Belt states critical to her Electoral College strategy, there was only one responsible choice on Election Day. About 2.5 million more voters made that choice than supported Donald Trump, but lopsided margins in California couldn’t offset Clinton’s lack of appeal across the South and Midwest. And so, here we are.

Trump’s gay defenders — and there are a handful — have said not to worry, that Trump reached out to gays during his convention and that he won’t undermine LGBT rights as president. But most of us are more concerned about a disengaged President Trump empowering anti-LGBT figures like Vice President-elect Mike Pence, whose anti-LGBT views are well known, and Reince Priebus, whose party platform was labeled “the most anti-LGBT platform in the party’s 162-year history,” by the Log Cabin Republicans. There’s also Trump’s disturbing pledge to appoint justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia to the U.S. Supreme Court.

What’s coming won’t be pretty. But this isn’t 2000 or 2004, when George W. Bush cynically used anti-gay animus to motivate conservative voters. The Obama era has produced great advances toward equality that will prove difficult to undo. From opinion polls that show growing acceptance of our relationships to court victories like Macy v. Holder and Obergefell v. Hodges, the LGBT community is on much surer footing than eight years ago. Our advocates (and journalists) will need to readjust to playing defense again and fight to preserve those victories. Those strategies should include a new march on Washington for LGBT equality.

Many younger voters came of age during the Obama era and are unaware of our community’s history as a despised and discriminated against minority. Maybe that’s why many of us of a certain age didn’t slip into a post-election depression — we’ve been here before. We’ve marched on Washington and protested government indifference to the pandemic in front of the White House, decades before we were ever welcome inside. A new march would serve to educate and galvanize a younger generation in the way previous marches in 1979, 1987, 1993, 2000 and 2009 inspired many of us. We should send a message to Trump and his supporters that LGBT Americans are NOT returning to the closet and will not abide a rollback of our hard-fought advances. It’s a new era but we’ve been here before. We know how to fight from outside the White House gates.

Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at knaff@washblade.com.

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

4 Comments
  • So, is the assumption here that Trump was just clueless about the positions of his VP and cabinet appointments when it comes to LGBT rights? Is he going to see us march, slap his hand to his forehead and ask why someone didn’t tell him about Mike Pence, Tom Price or Jeff Sessions before he nominated them? So we march, then what? It’s not like we can threaten to withhold our votes or money since we have already done that and it didn’t matter.

    Maybe rather than marching on the White House, we should be marching on DNC headquarters. To your point Kevin, running Hillary was like trying to run a con, hoping nobody would notice that she supported the Iraq war, TPP, opposed marriage equality, put personal needs before all else, exercised poor judgment and thought Reagan did a good job handling the AIDS crisis. Maybe we need to demand better, less flawed, more dynamic candidates, run more savvy campaigns, offer sustainable platforms and allow less appeasement of party elders. Maybe we should stop believing that running any woman or man will work if we can just turnout the base. Is there anyone who thinks Senator Schumer and Representative Pelosi are the people to lead the party out of this morass other than Chuck and Nancy?

    • No one said Trump was clueless about their anti-gay positions. He was just indifferent. GLBT rights for conservatives don’t matter. But we do know what Trump’s positons are on religious freedom laws and marriage equality. Frankly, Trump flip flops so much on his positions that you can’t really believe anything he says! The message changes depending on the audience.

      Don’t want to march on Washington? Then keep your sorry jaded butt at home!

      Marching has an enormous effect on morale and solidarity and keeps the message out there. Why do you think they have a National Right to Life March every year?! Has it changed abortion rights or overturned Roe V. Wade?

      Don’t try and sell us that a march doesn’t matter. It matters more than ever to show we are here, we are many and we aren’t going to stand by idly while religious freedom laws are pushed through Congress and anti-gay activist judges are appointed to the bench. We will fight tooth and nail every which way we can! Silence or invisibility will do far less for us under an oppressive regime! Those of us that have marched before know it. We remind our allies we are out there and still count.

  • Well Kevin, twenty-twenty hindsight is easy. Didn’t HRC endorse Hillary/ If you felt she had so much baggage and was the wrong candidate for the nomination, why did you simply remain silent and accept the status quo? Have you know influence or a say with the Democrats when it comes to a nominee?

    Our enemy organizations like FRC have a voice within the GOP when it comes to a choice for a candidate. Why does HRC seem to lose theirs?

    That said, I have advocated for a March on Washington from the get go after the disaster with Trump. A march takes time to organize so now is the time to start planning for it. Remember the old AIDS cry about what silence equals! I would argue that invisibility plays the same role. We are taken for granted, ignored and chalked up as just a fringe noise in the background.

    This march though should not be just for GLBT but also include representatives from all those organizations that scored so well on the Corporate Equality Index. It’s time they take a larger role in advocating for our equality in Congress not just at the state level. Just like they influence religious freedom laws in Indiana and Arizona and recently were involved in NC, they need to be there for us at the national level! The time is now! Enough lip service on supporting equality push and demand for it! Just scoring high on the index is not good enough anymore!!!!

  • An out and proud LGBTQ contingent with rainbow flags attending and showing their support for the women’s march on Washington on January 21st could be a really good idea. We need fusion politics to win and stand against Trump.

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