In Washington Tens of Thousands March for Gay Rights
On Sunday tens of thousands of gay rights supporters rallied near White House to demand that President Barack Obama end discrimination against gays and also let them serve openly in the military.
Photo: In Washington Tens of Thousands March for Gay Rights
"Hey, Obama, let mama marry mama" some chanted Sunday. Others cried out, "We're out, we're proud, we won't back down."
Some taking part in the National Equality March woke up energized by Obama's promise to end the ban on gays serving openly in the military. He made that pledge in a speech Saturday night to the Human Rights Campaign, nation's largest gay rights group.
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Sunday that Congress will need to muster the resolve to change the "don't ask, don't tell policy" — a change that the military may be ready for.
"I think it has to be done in the right way, which is to get a buy-in from the military, which I think is now possible," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich, The Associated Press reports.
CNN quoted Judy Shepard, one of the demonstrators, as saying, "I'm here today because I lost my son to hate."
Her gay son, Matthew Shepard, was kidnapped and severely beaten in October 1998. He died five days later in a hospital.
More than 10 years later, Judy Shepard addressed the thousands of gay rights activists in Washington who wrapped up Sunday's National Equality March with a rousing rally at the Capitol.
"No one has the right to tell my son whether or not he can work anywhere. Whether or not he can live wherever he wants to live and whether or not he can be with the one person he loves -- no one has that right," Judy Shepard told the crowd. "We are all Americans. We are all equal Americans, gay, straight or whatever," CNN reports.
It was also reported, Alex Miller, 23, of Ashburn, Va., waved a sign supporting her sister, Sam, 20, a lesbian. "Same womb. Same rights," it said.
Another demonstrator held a sign that bore a swastika and the words: "You are not the first to hate us."
The U.S. Park Police does not provide crowd counts. Phil Siegel, a march spokesman, put the head count at "more than 150,000."
A few counter-protesters also joined the crowd.
The rally drew impassioned speakers, including NAACP Chairman Julian Bond; Army 1st Lt. Daniel Choi, an Iraq combat veteran facing discharge for disclosing his sexual orientation; Babs Siperstein, a transsexual member of the Democratic National Committee; glam rocker Lady Gaga; and Michael Huffington, a Republican and former congressman from California.
Bond linked gay rights to civil rights, The Los Angeles Times reports.