by Dan Savage
on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 at 2:13 PM
Longtime gay activist Cleve Jones is leading the charge for the "National Equality March," a gay march on Washington called for October 11 of this year. Many folks are opposed—there's not enough time to organize a march, Congress isn't in session that week, marches don't accomplish much, a march eats up resources and energy—and Queerty has a good point/counterpoint interview/argument with Cleve. I'm officially agnostic: if people want to march, they can march.
But I have suggestion for an ongoing, smaller-scale action that would have a larger impact than a one-off "march" through an empty city. My idea would need fewer than a 1000 people to succeed—730 to be exact—and it wouldn't be over in a day. It would go on, day-in, day-out, every day, for a year. Hell, it could go on indefinitely. It involves civil disobedience and the 730 volunteers would have to be willing to get arrested. People who are unable to participate could make donations to help cover the expenses—legal expenses and travel expenses—of those who can.
Here's the idea: one gay or lesbian couple—a couple currently denied their rights under DOMA—shows up at the entrance to the White House grounds. A different couple every day. They ask to speak to the president about DOMA. They're refused. They sit down. They refuse to leave. They're arrested, carried away by the police. Couples would be recruited from all over the country, demonstrating that gay marriage isn't just an issue in liberal California or godless New England, and the media in each couple's home city and state would be notified in advance of their arrest. The occasional famous couple—Rosie and Kelli? Ellen and Portia?—would participate to pull in celeb media. But most of the couples who come to D.C. to get arrested would be average folks. The couples would need support, legal and logistical, and we would need someone to organize media outreach and maintain a website. The website would include a photo and profile of each couple that comes to D.C. to get arrested, collect all the press, and be used to recruit couples willing to travel to D.C. and get arrested.
The action would be small scale—it would be human scale—and it would go on and on and on. It would demonstrate better than another gay march just how seriously we take this issue: we take it seriously that we're willing to travel to D.C. and get arrested. It wouldn't be a one-day event that the White House could ignore or bluff its way through with some lame statement about its "commitment" to ending DOMA. The couples would keep coming. Every day an arrest. Drip, drip, drip. Members of the White House press corps would see couples getting arrested every day on their way to work. Gibbs would be forced to address DOMA on a near-daily basis. The president would be asked about the issue again and again.
My boyfriend—who doesn't do demonstrations (or interviews or photos or anything public)—is so upset about the DOMA brief that he's willing to go to D.C. and get arrested. So am I. We can't be the only couple that feels this way.