At noon on Jan. 20, 2017, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the nation’s 45th president. Many hoped they would never have to witness this but it will happen whether we like it or not. We have little idea what will happen during his presidency but the feeling is it won’t be good for the nation or the world. Thus far we see a man who will be president make pronouncements in 144 characters on Twitter. Bizarre to say the least.
I will not go to the inauguration but will read the speech he makes — presumably he won’t tweet the speech — to see if he tells us any more about what to expect in the next four years.
What I will do is join hands with the anticipated more than 100,000 at the Women’s March on Washington Saturday, Jan. 21. We march to tell the new administration we will fight any effort to take our nation backwards. The march mission statement reads, “The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault – and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.
“In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.
“We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all. HEAR OUR VOICE.”
We raise our voices to defend progress made over decades and advanced under President Obama. We will not sit by idly while a new administration turns back the clock on equality. Instead we unite and work tirelessly to continue to make progress until there is a guarantee of civil and human rights for all.
The world is watching as the Trump administration begins. We cannot allow those who look to America for leadership to believe there is no active resistance to the words we are hearing from him and those who would be part of his administration.
President Obama has spoken out for equal pay for women, for LGBT rights, for the rights of immigrants and refugees. The first piece of legislation Obama signed after taking office in 2009 was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act soon followed by the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. He signed the Affordable Care Act better known as Obamacare giving more than 20 million people healthcare insurance for the first time in March of 2010 and followed that with the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in December of that year. After that, much of what the president did was by executive order and those can more easily be overturned by Trump; some with the stroke of a pen.
Much is at stake. Trump has committed to nominating Supreme Court justices who oppose Roe v. Wade and some on his list would like to overturn marriage equality. There are those who will assume Cabinet positions who support dismantling Medicare and Medicaid and curtailing Social Security. The progress made to slow climate change is at risk to say nothing of our other treaties and alliances around the world.
That is why I will march and why it is so important for you to join me, and Gloria Steinem and Harry Belafonte the march co-chairs. We march because we believe we must say to this new administration that we are watching and we are united, ready and willing to act to save the principles and rights we believe in.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.