Marchers go to capital to fight for equal rights

by Tammy Tucker

Several Minnesota students and staff members will join thousands of others this weekend for the Millennium March on Washington for Equality.
The April 30 Washington, D.C., event hopes to “energize and galvanize the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) and supportive communities to work for equality at all levels, strengthen the overall movement for equal rights and empower and inspire voters for the 2000 elections,” according to its Web site.
Minnesotans are attending the event for many reasons.
“Visibility is 90 percent of it,” said Doug Federhart, deputy director of OutFront Minnesota, a GLBT advocacy organization. “The other 10 percent is about community building.”
“I think the biggest thing is awareness,” said Andy Tracy, a graduating nursing student, who is rearranging his busy schedule to go to the march.
The march will bring awareness to politicians, who will see thousands of people from around the country who are marching for something they believe in, he continued.
Tracy is president of the University’s chapter of Delta Lambda Phi, a fraternity of gay, bisexual and progressive men. He will be marching with four other members of the Minnesota chapter and men from dozens of other chapters.
Annie Nundahl, a political science senior, seeks personal rejuvenation from the march. She looks forward to meeting other GLBT people who, like her, don’t identify with mainstream GLBT culture, she said.
She doesn’t expect the march to lead to direct, immediate change, but said she hopes it’s a start.
“I don’t think radical change can take place without a mass movement,” she said.
For Barb Smith, a University library assistant, the march is a vacation more than a political action. Like Nundahl, she hopes to come back invigorated after a weekend immersed in GLBT culture.
“It will be nice to be with all the gay and lesbian people,” she said.
The official march and rally will be held on the National Mall in Washington, but the weekend’s events include a street festival, conferences and entertainment featuring Garth Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Melissa Etheridge, Anne Heche and others.
In addition, Rev. Jimmy Creech, who lost his credentials in November 1999 after a United Methodist Church jury found him guilty of disobeying church law by officiating at the same-sex union of two North Carolina men, will be a key speaker.
Thousands of couples are expected to take vows at a public demonstration and commitment ceremony at the Lincoln Center, making it the world’s largest ever non-sectarian demonstration celebrating same-gender marriage, according to the event’s Web site.
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) will also hold its national conference over the weekend.
This march is the fourth national GLBT-rights march. The last one was held in 1993.

Tammy Tucker welcomes your comments at [email protected].