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Marches on Washington  
 
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The disputes resulted in the Millennium March's being smaller and less diverse than the 1987 and 1993 marches. Approximately 200,000 people attended the rally. Other main events included a stadium concert, a wedding ceremony involving about 1,000 same-sex couples on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and a festival of gay-friendly vendors and entertainment.

The festival was supposed to raise money for local glbtq groups, but it lost money amid charges of inappropriate expenditures and an F. B. I. investigation into the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Millennium March thus ended the same way it began: in controversy.

Sponsor Message.

Despite the relative failure of the Millennium March, the marches on Washington in support of the rights of glbtq people are an important part of the modern movement for equality.

National Equality March, 2009

[The National Equality March on October 11, 2009 was born out of frustration: frustration with the loss of referenda on same-sex marriage and other rights; frustration with the alleged co-opting of the gay rights movement by the Democratic Party; and frustration with the failure of President Obama to fulfill the promises he made in his 2008 campaign for the presidency.

The March, which was hastily organized in only six weeks, initially without the support of the major gay rights organizations, was called by veteran activists Cleve Jones and David Mixner, but those who responded to the call and made the March a success were primarily young activists who had been stirred into action by the passage of Proposition 8 in California, which they attributed to a failure of strategy and vision on the part of the established gay political organizations.

Their disappointment with the loss of that election was compounded by their disillusionment with the Obama administration, which seemed to distance itself from the promises that had been made in the presidential election of 2008, especially the failure to end the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy that precludes the service of openly gay men and lesbians in the military.

The contrast between the attitudes of the gay political establishment and the grassroots activists was highlighted by the fact that on the eve of the March when President Obama addressed the national dinner of the Human Rights Campaign he was greeted by picketers who called attention to his failure to advance gay rights in the first nine months of his presidency.

In calling for the March, Jones and Mixner emphasized the need for a change of direction by the movement. Jones characterized the current practice of seeking rights on the local level as a failed strategy. "The endless pursuit of fractions of equality, state by state, county by county, locality by locality is not enough," he told the New York Times. "Until we get federal action, every one of those local victories--as important as they are--every one is incomplete and impermanent."

Despite detractors such as Congressman Barney Frank, who said the march was an exercise in futility that would apply pressure only to the grass, the Equality March attracted upwards of 250,000 highly diverse but predominantly youthful participants. Since the march was promoted primarily by bloggers through the Internet, its success was itself a tribute to the power of the World Wide Web.

The mood in 2009 was far less celebratory than the 1993 march. The focus was on the need for grassroots activism, suggesting a lack of faith in the gay and lesbian political establishment, which was widely seen as having been coopted by the Democratic Party, which itself was seen as more interested in raising money from the glbtq constituency than in enacting laws that would promote equal rights.

Julian Bond, the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, delivered the keynote speech. Not only did he personally ally himself with the gay rights agenda, he also pointed out the continuities between the civil rights movement and the gay and lesbian movement.

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