Rosendall Speaks at Rally Against Marriage Discrimination
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Rosendall Speaks at Rally
Against Marriage Discrimination

Richard J. Rosendall
GLAA Vice President for Political Affairs
Rally Against Marriage Discrimination
Human Rights Campaign Headquarters
17th Street & Rhode Island Avenue, NW
Wednesday, March 3, 2004

[Note: This is from the reading copy of the speech. The passage in
square brackets was excised during delivery due to time constraints.]

Friends, doesn't this feel like a movement again?

The fight for marriage is a big test for our community. GLAA did our homework for that test last year by researching the DC Code, with financial help from the Human Rights Campaign -- the best ally a local activist group could have. GLAA's marriage report details the 212 rights and responsibilities associated with marriage in DC law. You can print your own copy by visiting

Yesterday, all thirteen members of the DC Council introduced a resolution condemning the Federal Marriage Amendment. We applaud them for taking that first step. There will be many other steps, including additional protections for domestic partners.

The next step is NOT to have the DC Council pass a marriage bill. Remember what makes DC different from San Francisco and Massachusetts and New York and Oregon: Usurping states' rights with a constitutional amendment takes two-thirds in both houses plus three-fourths of the statehouses. Crushing DC requires a simple majority in both houses and a presidential signature. That makes DC an inviting target.

Defeating the Federal Marriage Amendment, and moving on to win our equal marriage rights, is not a sprint but a marathon. What we need is not one big dramatic gesture, but many small acts of education.

The radical right is throwing an awful lot of lies out there. Our families are hearing all that stuff. What are they hearing from us?

[Yesterday, my brother told me how proud he was of me for getting my article on same-sex marriage published on He also said that he disagrees, and he talked about protecting children. I've known this man since both of us WERE children. So I started a conversation that my brother and I should have had a long time ago.]

Persuading family and friends will take patience and perseverance. We have reason and evidence and justice on our side. We must win this battle one mind and one voter at a time. We can't afford to put off these difficult conversations any longer.

But none of us is alone. Expert resources are available online. Go to Email your favorite articles.

The important thing is to take people's concerns seriously. We have to reach them where they are. We have to make the connections - not just come out, but convince.

Since 1979 there have been four big gay marches on Washington. Of all those who marched, as my friend Barney Frank likes to ask, how many wrote letters to their senators and representatives? It is the retail work of those letters and those family conversations that we need if we're going to win. So let's march home and do it.


At this point, at the request of the rally organizers, Rosendall introduced Franklin Kameny, founder of the gay rights movement in Washington and a longtime GLAA member, who spoke extemporaneously.