Join the Impact/Austin holding event as part of coordinated national effort; Queer Liberaction says Obama must be held to his word
As he courted the LGBT community on the campaign trail, then-candidate Barack Obama said he opposed the federal Defense of Marriage Act — the legislation known as DOMA that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions and allows states to refuse to allow such relationships legalized in other states.
Candidate Obama pledged to work for the full repeal of DOMA and for federal recognition of gay and lesbian relationships.
Now, 10 days before his inauguration, LGBT activists across the country will be coming together to demand President-elect Obama keep his promise.
Join the Impact, a direct-action LGBT rights group organized through the Internet in the wake of the passage of Proposition 8 in California on Nov. 4, has called for protests to take place in all 50 state capitals on Saturday, Jan. 10.
Join the Impact/Austin will be holding its Lone Star State gathering at 12:30 p.m. outside the Austin City Hall.
But the Dallas-based direct action group Queer Liberaction, believing that many North Texans would be unable to make the last-minute trip to Austin, decided to join the effort by staging a DOMA protest in Dallas on Saturday, too.
A second North Texas protest is also planned in Denton on Saturday.
Stonewall Democrats of Denton County and Peace Action Denton will gather on the Courthouse Square at 12:30 p.m. for the action there.
Queer Liberaction’s gathering takes place at 10:30 a.m. in the plaza behind the Dallas County Records Building, 501 Main St.
QL co-founder Gabe Coppinger said his group chose that location for the same reason the group decided to hold an event in Dallas on Saturday: "We think it is important for protests to be as visible as possible."
Coppinger said the QL protest is likely to be at least a little bit more confrontational than some similar events. "We will have signs and we will have chants directly targeting Obama and demanding he keep his promise," he said. "Many people think we shouldn’t be targeting him directly right now, because this [his inauguration] is such an historic time, blah blah blah. Lots of organizations say let’s wait, let’s put the gay issues on the backburner for now and let him get settled in the office and take care of issues like the economy first.
"But Queer Liberaction thinks this is an issue that should always be a top priority. There are plenty of frontburners, and we shouldn’t have to wait for our equality," Coppinger said.
He said that the state of the economy is, in fact, one of the main reasons why LGBT people can’t afford to wait for DOMA to be repealed.
"If I lose my job, my partner can’t put me on his insurance. If he loses his job, I can’t put him on my insurance. This is a very big issue for us and for most gay couples. It’s not something we can wait for," Coppinger said. "It’s important that we demand equality now and that we demand it directly from Obama because he is the one who promised us he would repeal this law."
At its protests around the country, Join the Impact will be circulating copies of an "open letter" to the president-elect that will "remind [him] of the promises he made to us" and "serve as a pledge from our community that we will hold him to his promises and help him achieve them." Organizers hope to get at least 1 million signatures and then deliver the letters to the White House.
Coppinger said Queer Liberaction will have copies of the letter at its event Saturday, too, as will those staging the event in Denton, according to organizer John McClelland.
COUPLES NEEDED FOR FREEDOM TO MARRY PROTEST
Join the Impact/Dallas and Queer Liberaction have announced plans to stage a joint "Freedom to Marry Day" demonstration on Feb. 12, and organizers are asking LGBT couples willing to participate in the event to contact them.
JTI/Dallas leader Elizabeth Pax said the groups are looking for established same-sex couples who are or want to be married and who are willing to tell their stories to the crowd and to the media.
Those couples will then apply for marriage licenses at the Dallas County Clerk’s Office. When the licenses are denied, protesters will stage a sit-in, Pax said.
She said organizers are especially interested in finding a couple or couples willing to hold a commitment ceremony as part of the event.
Anyone interested in participating is asked to contact Pax via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 9, 2009.