This weekend’s Millennium March on Washington for Equality helped to raise awareness about gay, lesbian and bisexual issues during a time when homosexuality has come under the national spotlight.
The march, which was the fourth national gay rights rally and the first since 1993, highlighted several issues of national interest. The movement for gay marriage has gained momentum with the passage of a new civil unions bill in Vermont. Also, in the wake of the tragic beating deaths of gay University of Wyoming student Mathew Shepard and gay Pfc. Barry Winchell, President Clinton is pushing Congress to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
The Supreme Court case involving the legality of the Boy Scouts of America barring gays from membership added significance to the rally. And Sunday’s Washington Post report that the Clinton administration for the first time has formally designated the global AIDS epidemic to be proportions sufficient to threaten national security marks an important victory for the homosexual community, which has lobbied in favor of AIDS education for years.
More than 3,000 gay and lesbian couples took part in a mass wedding in front of the Lincoln Memorial Saturday. The event was the largest ever event of its kind, although largely symbolic because gay and lesbian marriage is not recognized in 49 states and the District.
A heartening aspect of the weekend was the support of non-homosexual participants, including many parents of homosexual teenagers and other friends and relatives of gays and lesbians.
Ultimately, the march only can add to the national discussion on homosexual rights, shedding much-needed light on issues that affect all gay, lesbian and transgendered Americans.