Rosendall speaks at Democracy for DC rally
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Rosendall speaks at Democracy for DC rally

[On Thursday evening, September 15, 2005, a rally was held on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol calling for self-determination and voting rights in Congress for the District of Columbia. Led by ACLU of the National Capital Area, the rally featured music and a variety of speakers including D.C. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton. GLAA was represented by Vice President for Political Affairs Rick Rosendall.]

Democracy for DC rally
West Lawn, United States Capitol
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Remarks by Rick Rosendall
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance

Good evening, and thank you for being here. I am proud to be part of this coalition.

My theme for today is: We cannot allow others to pick our fights for us.

Most of us know that the answer to Rodney King's famous question, "Can't we all just get along?" is No. We have issues. And those issues do not disappear just because we decide to paper them over. To be able to get along in more than a superficial sense, we have to confront those issues. They include issues of health, education, economic development, and crime.

To overcome our differences, to work together, we have to step outside our comfort zones. But in dealing with our issues we must make sure that they are OUR issues. One of the keys to resisting our colonial status here in D.C. is not letting others choose our issues for us, and not internalizing others' beliefs about us.

One of the ways that the radical right has tried to divide and conquer is by recruiting African American ministers in its attack on gay families. For example, anti-gay fanatic Rev. Lou Sheldon has brought groups of black ministers to Capitol Hill to denounce same-sex civil marriage. But America is not threatened by my wanting to marry the man I love. It is threatened by people scapegoating minorities. It is threatened by people shoving their religion down other people's throats. And D.C. in particular is threatened by people using hot-button issues to divide us.

Rep. Jo Ann Davis of Virginia has a bill in Congress to exclude gay families in D.C. from the legal protections other families take for granted. There have also been efforts to push an anti-gay D.C. ballot initiative. If someone asks you to sign a ballot petition in the name of "protecting" marriage, think twice. The proponents of such measures are not trying to protect anything, they are trying to harm gay people and our families of all colors, all religions, and all walks of life, just as they once attacked interracial couples. Just say no.

We in DC have a lot more conversations ahead of us before we will be ready to pass a bill allowing gay marriages. But those are conversations we need to have among ourselves as Washingtonians and with those we elect, not with members of Congress who do not represent us, nor with President Bush's theocratic political base.

When you get right down to it, gay people want the same thing that our neighbors want: an equal opportunity to pursue our happiness, to enjoy our lives in peace, to care for our families. It is love that makes a family, and love cannot be imposed. Our happiness cannot be defined for us by someone else.

Washingtonians have served disproportionately in our nation's wars, and we pay federal taxes. We are here today to claim our birthright of equality as citizens of this country. Let us reach out in hope and determination to our fellow Americans and declare that the motto carved above the entrance of the Supreme Court, "Equal Justice Under Law," had damn well better mean what it says.

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