By Michael Ferens
On January 24, 2000, about 20 members of the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians (PLAGAL) did an amazing thing. They marched with other Pro Lifers at the annual "March for Life" protesting the Roe vs. Wade decision on its anniversary despite being threatened arrest.
The organizers of the Right to Life March told PLAGAL that they could not march since they were gay. Now, if PLAGAL "closeted" themselves and just blended in, they would be okay. Sound familiar? Remember the Clinton administrations, "Dont Ask Dont Tell" military policy? How about states that still allow employers to discriminate against open gays? At the Right to Life March, all other groups were allowed to march behind banners reflecting their various churches, organizations or states but if PLAGAL members carried its banner, they would be arrested and thrown in jail.
This being known at the annual PLAGAL meeting on the eve of the march, members decided to risk being arrested. After all, they reasoned it would be hypocritical if PLAGAL hid at the March for Life when for years they fought so hard to be included openly in pride events and parades within its own community. In addition, if PLAGAL bowed to the pressures imposed by the organizers, they would do the gay community no good. By not marching, they would be acknowledging that is was right to hate and this would be a backward step. PLAGAL members do not want to be excluded from the gay community just because of their pro-life beliefs and values. Likewise, they do want to be excluded from the pro-life community just because they are lesbian and gay.
Therefore, despite the threats, PLAGAL appeared at the march, and when the police barricaded them PLAGAL members maneuvered around the police and entered the parade further up the street marching under their banner with the word "censored" scantly taped across so everyone would know what the words were underneath. Their decision to ignore the arrest threats from the organizers of the march was noted in the Washington Post, The Washington Times, and several others news publications throughout the country.
The majority of gays and lesbians may not share the beliefs of PLAGAL, but they should be proud of this small group within its community. PLAGAL members marching peacefully and with determination along side of 50,000 other individuals that included some of the gay communitys worst foes. PLAGALs presence was a step toward bridging the gap between those individuals and the gay community as a whole.
At the end of the march, members of "Feminist for Life", "Collegiates for Life", Catholic priests and bishops, and other marchers from all walks of life and religions congratulated and thanked PLAGAL. It did not matter whether fellow marchers were gay or straight, what mattered was the shared belief of those marching that day. And now those Right to Life March organizers have something to think about for next year.
Michael Ferens is the chairman of PLAGAL PAC, the Political Action Committee for Pro-Life Lesbians and Gays.