Over 135 LGBT organizations from 35 states have joined in taking the Pledge for Full LGBT Equality calling upon the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus to file a national bill for full LGBT equality immediately, and to fight for its passage by 2014, the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The idea is simple: to combine all our separate legislative initiatives and community groups into one mass appeal for justice, big enough to manifest our dream of full equality in America and proud enough to reclaim our dignity.
Groups span every facet of community and movement: faith-based, direct action, civil rights, gender rights, marriage equality, gay-straight alliances, NOW chapters, PFLAG groups, and LGBT community centers from Vermont to Philadelphia to Palm Springs. Statewide equality groups have joined the call, including Equality Pennsylvania, Equality Nevada, Equality Nebraska, Equality Hawaii, Equality Illinois, and Equality Maryland. And LGBT Pride committees are marching in step in New Orleans; Honolulu; the Outer Banks of North Carolina; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Spencer Pride, Ind.
Leading faith groups include the United Church of Christ, with over 5,100 congregations; the Unitarian Universalists Association, with over 1,100 members; the Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists (now on their pro-equality Jubilee Tour); the Metropolitan Community Church, and the Methodists Federation for Social Action. These stand in solidarity with the AFL-CIO Pride-at-Work in Rochester, N.Y., and the Arizona Trans Alliance, and alongside Gender Rights Maryland and the Wisconsin National Organization for Women, who in turn stand with PFLAG Central Oregon and PFLAG Phoenix, as well as the City University of New York Gay-Straight Alliance and students at the University of New Mexico.
Pledge enthusiasts include both vanguard street activists and veteran major donors alike, such as Richard Noble, who walked on foot across America, garnering 11 city council proclamations for such a bill; Occupy Wall Street, which marched for our equality in NYC Pride; Juan Ahonen-Jover of eQualityGiving, a leading private group of major donors; and Bob Mitchell of Mithell Gold & Bob Williams furniture and founder of Faith in America, a group dedicated to the critical work of engaging the religious opposition.
The idea is simple but revolutionary: file an inclusive bill to unite the tens of thousands of LGBT groups and allies, from all social, political, and community corners, around a clarion call for full equality as a statement of our entitlement. The example has already been set with these 135 groups, and this action is within our power as a movement to do without regard to the opposition or Republicans. Unfortunately, there is an entrenched resistance to taking this step, which is not only a concession to the oppression but, unfortunately, seems to reflect a deeply embedded lack of entitlement as victims of unending social abuse.
To change course, it's important that our existing strategy of filing multiple single-issue bills not be treated as a sacrosanct pragmatic legislative strategy, because it has not worked. For 17 years we have tried and failed to pass ENDA, and we just failed to get UAFA in CIR despite huge allied support. There is not a single federal nondiscrimination law covering LGBT people. So what should be clear by now is that smaller individual-issue bills just do not have the energizing force required to surmount the political and religious opposition, in part because we do not have critical mass behind them. Justice has a spirit, and as a small minority, we particularly need to tap into this with a dream-worthy goal that can inspire ourselves and others to the action we need and deserve.
For a long time, historically, we dreamed bigger and sought equal civil rights. But sadly, in 1994, we gave up that hope in realistic accommodation of the decimation of our community by AIDS and the stigma that had ensued in the 1980s. But as early as 1974, congressional leaders like Rep. Bella Abzug and Sen. Paul Tsongas routinely filed equal LGBT civil rights legislation, believing our righteous time had come. But AIDS unleashed a deeply homophobic vein in America that demonized us with social scorn that turned hopeful pride into overwhelming defeat. But this time has passed, and we too must break free of that construct.
Calling for full equality does many things a single-issue approach cannot do and no one group can do alone: It makes its own statement of our collective dignity as a people. And in so doing, it calls the question: Do you support LGBT equality or not? And if not, why? Why do LGBT Americans not already have the protections against discrimination other minorities now hold sacrosanct? Laws that gay people like Bayard Rustin helped create while being left out. How long do LGBT Americans have to wait, and why is 2014 not the best time to end this injustice? Is 50 years not long enough?
This is the true path to ending the bullying and job discrimination, suicides and murders, homelessness, rejection and depression, which are all but symptoms of this horrible discrimination. We need to get to the root cause faster, because mothers rejecting their own children is barbaric, and children taking their own lives must end. So it is our duty as a movement to bring about a much bigger conversation, using our legislative organizing as a tool and not merely as an objective, to expedite and achieve not only legal protections but the social change of heart, completed already for many, but still lingering far too widely, because it is safely hidden under cover of political inaction we permit by not seeking full equality.
In this spirit, the Pledge for Full LGBT Equality calls upon our movement to change course. To set a new vision and goal. To capture the spirit of our times. And to rise above our own limited expectations to set the righteous standard we deserve of our political and social movement leaders -- to seek full equality now.
If we each act now and take the pledge together, the day will soon come when the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, GLSEN, PFLAG, the Leadership Council on Civil Rights, the NAACP, NOW, the ACLU, and every statewide equality group, LGBT Facebook page, Pride committee, community center, allied business and celebrity will speak with one voice to demand "full LGBT equality now!" Then, and only then will we have a movement worthy of our pride and our spirit. Then and only then will we capture the magic of collective intention fueled by nature's unstoppable yearning for justice.
To ignite this revolution and spur our unification, all groups and individuals are invited to join in the Pride Month Push to get 250 groups from all 50 states to take the Pledge for Full LGBT Equality. Help us point the way to freedom. Help us achieve our destiny.
In doing so, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain, starting with our own self-respect. Equality now! Say it. Demand it. Mean it. Take the equality pledge. It feels great! Happy Pride!
Equality Pledge Supporters (Partial Listing):
ActOnPrinciples * Agape Metropolitan Community Church * The American Equality Bill (AEB) Project * Arizona Stonewall Democrats * Arizona TransAlliance * Asociacion de Mujeres Progresistas * Association of Affirming and Welcoming Baptists * The Association of Practical Christians * Bisexual Queer Alliance Chicago * bloomingOUT * Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law * City University of New York Gay-Straight Alliance * The Civil Rights Agenda * The Civil Rights Walk Across America * Coalition for Justice & Respect (Chicago) * Colorado AIDS Project * Conscious Contact NY * CUNY LGBT Task Force * Democratic Headquarters of the Desert * Desert Stonewall Democrats * Destiny Dominion Church * Direct Action Network (San Antonio) * Duke City Darlin's * eQualityGiving.org * Equality Hawaii * Equality Illinois * Equality Maryland * Equality Nevada * Equality Pennsylvania * Equality Southwest Washington * Faith in America * Founders MCC Los Angeles * Freedom to Marry Ohio * Forum for Equality * Forward Equality (Nebraska) * Gay Activist Alliance in Morris County * Gay Grassroots (Florida) * Gender Rights Maryland * GetEQUAL * GetEQUAL - Georgia * GetEQUAL - Indiana * GetEQUAL - Ohio * GetEQUAL - Texas * GLBT Caucus Democrat Party of Hawaii * Global Justice Institute * Greater Palm Springs Pride * Hollaback * Honolulu Pride * Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center * Jacksonville Florida Black Pride * Join-The-Impact-Massachusetts * Joplin Pride Center * Joshua Tree Gay Pride Festival * Kauai Pride * Let's Reach One Million * LGBT Caribbean * The LGBT Community Center of the Desert (California) * Marriage Equality for Pennsylvania * Marriage Equality New York * Marriage Equality USA * Methodist Federation for Social Action * Metropolitan Community Church * Metropolitan Community Church of New York * MCC Coachella Valley CA * Minnesota LGBT Therapists * Montrose Star * More Light Presbyterians * NGLCCNY * No Longer Silent-Clergy for Justice (Arizona) * NWA Pride * NYC Black Justice Alliance * NYC LGBT Chamber of Commerce * Oak Area Park L&G Association * Occupy Albany - LGBT Caucus * Occupy Equality * Out4Immigration * Outer Banks Pride (North Carolina) * Outreach (Centenary College) * PFLAG Central Oregon * PFLAG Collingswood NJ * PFLAG Pasadena * PFLAG Phoenix * People Acting for Change and Equality (Louisiana) * Pride at Work AFL-CIO - Rochester Finger Lakes Chapter * PRIDE Democrats New York * The Pride Network * Pride New Orleans Celebration * Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) * Progressives for America * Queer Advocacy Network, University of Wyoming * Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance * Queering Occupy Wall Street Caucus (New York) * Rainbow Bracelet Project * Rainbow House LGBT Community Center * Reconciling Ministries Network * The Reformed Catholic Church * River City Pride * RU12 Community Center (Vermont) * The Sanctuary Project Veterans * The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (San Francisco) * Social Outreach Seattle * STONEWALL Veterans' Association * South Carolina Equality * Spencer Pride Indiana * Trinity University Sexual Diversity Alliance * True Stories Project * UAFA Watch * Ulster County Democratic Women * The Unitarian Universalist Association * The United Church of Christ * University of Georgia LGBT Resource Center * University of Nebraska-Lincoln - Committee for LGBT Concerns * University of New Mexico Student Groups * Utah Pride Center * VenusPlusX * West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence * The Wig Project * William Way Community Center * Wisconsin National Organization for Women* Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance