Sunday, October 11, 2009

Stonewall 2.0

Unlike many gathered at the HRC dinner where Obama spoke on Saturday night, a large number of the participants in today's March on Washington were not impressed with the president's speech:

Impatient and discouraged by what they see as a certain detachment by President Obama on their issues, gay rights supporters took to the streets of the capital on Sunday in the largest demonstration for gay rights here in nearly a decade.

Unlike previous marches promoting gay civil rights, the rally was primarily the undertaking of a new generation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advocates who have grown disillusioned with the movement’s established leadership.

Known as Stonewall 2.0 or the Prop. 8 Generation – a reference to the galvanizing effect the repeal of California’s same-sex marriage law had on many young people – this group of 20-and-30-something activists are at odds with gay advocates who are urging patience as Mr. Obama grapples with more pressing pieces of his domestic agenda like health care reform and the economic recovery.

“I think this march represents the passing of the torch,” said Corey Johnson, 27, a protester and blogger for the gay lifestyle website Towleroad.com. “The points of power are no longer in the halls of Washington or large metropolitan areas. It’s decentralized now. You have young activists and gay people from all walks of life converging on Washington not because a national organization told them to, but because they feel the time is now.”

... Demonstrators gave the president’s speech low marks for lacking any new substance and failing to acknowledge several major issues confronting the gay movement. In the words of Billie Myers, a musician who spoke to an eager crowd of tens of thousands that gathered on the West Lawn of the Capitol Sunday, “I’m sorry, but I didn’t like your speech.”

The president did not lay out a timetable for repealing the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, nor did he voice support for any of the battles going on at the state level to allow same-sex couples greater recognition under the law.

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