6th Annual Shepard March Targets Marriage Rights as Civil Rights

Wed. September 29, 2004 12:00 AM

"At issue is whether or not we will become full citizens in this country"

Chicago, IL - With equal marriage rights for gay people emerging as a "hot button" issue in this year's election, the 6th Annual Matthew Shepard March for LGBT Rights will target the issue in the march set for 8 pm, Saturday, October 2nd at the corner of Halsted and Roscoe Streets in Chicago. (Event Details) March organizers note that the Bush campaign is using the issue to mobilize their rightwing, anti-gay base, and that Kerry and Edwards also oppose "gay marriage," and are doing their best to run away from the issue rather than stake out "an honest, equal rights position."

"Most of us in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community are frankly sick of the politicians using our rights and lives as political footballs to further their political careers," said Bob Schwartz of the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network and the Equal Marriage NOW! coalition. "Not only do some 1000+ federal benefits come with equal marriage rights, but more fundamentally, the issue has become a referendum on the future of gay people in the United States. At issue is whether or not we will become full citizens in this country, legally entitled to the same rights as others, or permanent pariahs."

On the 6th anniversary of the murder of Wyoming gay college student Matthew Shepard, march organizers note an increasing link between the attempt to squelch equal marriage rights and rising violence against gay people. Within the past few weeks both Rev. Jimmy Swaggert and the publisher of the Washington Times newspaper, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, have called for the death of gay people. "Kill gays" reggae performers Capleton and Beenie Man have attempted to perform at major venues across the nation.

Pointing to the core purpose of the march, Schwartz said, "We are not fatalistically accepting these attacks. We know that rights are never given to people. They must be organized, fought for, and won. As Frederick Douglass put it, 'Power concedes nothing without a demand. Never has, never will.'"

This year's march is being co-sponsored by the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network and the new Equal Marriage NOW! coalition, that led most of the equal marriage rights protests beginning this spring. For information, e-mail CABNstopthehate@aol.com or telephone 888.471.0874.