Stroll On Washington

Jim Burroway

June 9th, 2009

That’s what the so-called March on Washington is beginning to look like. Veteran LGBT activist Cleve Jones has decided that the so-called March on Washington for October 11 won’t be all that:

In a Blade interview Monday, Jones said he sees his march as a “stripped-down, bare-bones march and rally.”

“It\’s a one-sentence demand,” he said. “We want equal protection under the law for LGBT Americans in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states.”

Jones said the demonstration would include a two-hour program with minimal staging, a sound system and portable toilets.

Wait a minute. We’re packing our bags to go to Washington for a two hour program?

Here’s the plan:

Jones said he envisions the march starting as grassroots activity in all 435 congressional districts. He said lobbying would “begin immediately” and organizers would identify new leaders in each of these districts.

“Then we want to come to Washington, we want to march and make it clear to the president that we expect more — to make it clear to the Democratic leadership that we expect more,” he said.

Jones said he\’s not looking for sheer numbers in event participants, but instead is hoping for participants from all 435 congressional districts.

After the march, Jones said participants would return home “and get to work and build their army of precinct walkers, canvassers, [and] phone bankers.”

This is muddled thinking at its worst. He wants to organize people in 435 congressional districts, send them to Washington to mill around for a couple of hours, hold up some signs and shout a few slogans for two whole hours — while Congress and the President are out of town — and then send them home to do what they were already doing back at those 435 districts to begin with.

What makes this especially insane is that this can all be done without physically going to Washington. Twitter, Facebook, blogs — all of this makes physically gathering at one location to organize the way Cleve envisions it utterly pointless.

But what Cleve wants to do is worse than pointless. If you can mobilize hundreds of thousands of people to March on Washington, then at least you get great visuals of massive numbers of people on the mall demanding action from Congress. But if you get just a few hundred people gathering on the Mall’s 309 acres, you  hand our opponents a great propaganda victory when they declare that nobody — not even gay people — care enough about equal rights to bother showing up.

Which of course, isn’t true. I, for one, care passionately about equal rights. But I am not purchasing airline tickets and booking a hotel room for a two hour walkabout on the Mall. I have a feeling I’m not alone.

Lindoro Almaviva

June 9th, 2009

This is sounding worse by the minute. And I was going to start a savings fund to go there. Guess I’ll go to my fall opera orgy at Lincoln Center instead.

JJ in Chicago

June 9th, 2009

Jim, you are not alone.

While I respect Cleve’s passion and his dedication to equality, his actions highlight the misplaced priorities that I often mention when I post here or elsewhere.

That is, the tone deafness of activists on the coasts, such as San Francisco or New York. This includes various national non-profits too.

People in Maine need to focus on their state.

New York may still have a shot at a marriage bill, even with the shakeup in Albany.

Here in Illinois, we almost got a civil unions bill, but it fell through.

I won’t even get into the economic reasons of wasting money for this ….

Michael Ditto

June 9th, 2009

Actually I could see value in doing a citizen lobby day where you do organizing in every congressional district and then send one or two from each district to lobby all on the same day. Then people could group up and descend on all 535 offices of senators and representatives on the same day. That would make an impact. And then instead of a “march” and a rally, it could be strategy and training meeting, maybe a fundraiser, and a party.

We do exactly that at the state level in Colorado every year and it actually, really makes a difference.

Neither federal nor state legislators typically get in-person visits from constituents. All they ever talk to in person is lobbyists, staffers, donors, and the press–none of whom typically has our community’s best interest at heart.

Jim Burroway

June 9th, 2009

Re: Actually I could see value in doing a citizen lobby day…

Of course, that would only have value if Congress were in session and senators and representatives are actually in town. But Congress will be in recess for the Columbus Day holiday when this so-called march takes place.


June 9th, 2009

The economy is in the tank and some leaders want to march on Washington with an unemployment rate at over nine percent. It is the wrong time.

Michael Ditto

June 9th, 2009

Well there’s that, obviously. But I mean in principle I think there’s work to be done at the federal level as much as the state. I don’t discount doing some kind of event, but I do think a march on any date is a waste of time.

We already had a march on Washington, and it was a total disappointment. If it weren’t for the embezzlement of $750,000, it wouldn’t have gotten any press coverage at all. And then there’s the other three marches. About one every 8 or 10 years.

Remember the pro-choice march on Washington in 2004? Me either. It was the largest march on Washington in the history of marches on Washington, and it got as much media coverage as any other traffic jam in DC.

Marches are dumb whether or not Congress is in session.

brandin jackson

June 10th, 2009

i think that the march is going to be amazing i cant wait to be apart of it!!!!


June 10th, 2009

I think your most important point is the one about numbers. To have any impact at all, with or without Congress in session, it has to be a crushing crowd…and if it turns into a small crowd, you are correct that it will be used against us. Congress critters will see this as a weak lobby, and we’ll get even less attention.

I went to the very first march way back, and it was great experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but now’s not the time.


June 10th, 2009

This is all just BS and not even worth going on about anymore.
Toodles and good luck with that.

Kenny Jacobs

June 12th, 2009

Why not have a lobby day in every congressional office in the country? No need to go to DC for a lobby day. The next step is to lobby all the state reps.

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