Gays use march as appeal

WASHINGTON DC: Last month’s Millennium March on Washington was the culmination of years worth of outreach and grass-roots efforts by gay and lesbian groups, who made their most concerted attempt yet to appeal to the mainstream.

WASHINGTON DC: Last month’s Millennium March on Washington was the culmination of years worth of outreach and grass-roots efforts by gay and lesbian groups, who made their most concerted attempt yet to appeal to the mainstream.

WASHINGTON DC: Last month’s Millennium March on Washington was the

culmination of years worth of outreach and grass-roots efforts by gay

and lesbian groups, who made their most concerted attempt yet to appeal

to the mainstream.



The event held April 30 drew hundreds of thousands of gays and lesbians

to the National Mall to mobilize voters and to raise awareness of the

constituency’s increasing power as a voting block. It marked a major

departure from the movement’s more radical rally in 1993, boasting

highly visible corporate sponsorships (United Airlines, Showtime) and

attempted to portray gays and lesbians in a more mainstream light.



Rallying behind the mantra of ’Marching today, marching to the ballet

box in November,’ demonstrators were clearly buoyed by the recent civil

union law passed in Vermont that grants gays and lesbians the full

benefits of marriage enjoyed by heterosexuals. Although the date of the

march had been chosen two years ago, the event’s executive director,

Dianne Hardy-Garcia, said that speakers highlighted the landmark Vermont

legislation as a way to drive the larger message of the march home.



’We knew we had to have a broad message, because as we’ve gained more

visibility, we’ve become increasingly diverse,’ she explained. ’The

broader message we can all agree on is to turn out the largest gay vote

in history in 2000.’



March organizers also addressed eight platform issues, including

employee non-discrimination and hate crime, which they identified as

being key to the gay movement.



’The gay vote was the overriding theme of the day, but we wanted to tell

everyone to vote to address all these platforms.’ said Corri Planck, the

march’s communications director.



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