Washington, DC&emdash;Organizers of Millennium March on Washington (MMOW) will ratify and announce the Platform of the fourth national march for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights during organizational meetings in Washington, DC on Dec. 5 and 6, 1999.
"The platform balloting process has been one of the most exciting features of the upcoming Millennium March," said Malcolm Lazin, co-executive director of the event. "For the first time in the history of GLBT organizing, our community, along with our friends, families and allies, has had the opportunity to vote directly on the issues of the platform of a national civil rights march."
Several hundred thousand platform ballots were distributed through community centers, bars, clubs, magazines and newspapers, and handed out by local organizers across the country over a six month period to encourage broad community participation. Official ballots were featured in The Advocate, Curve , and Our World, along with state and regional GLBT publications. Voting was conducted by mail, fax, or e-mail, and ballots could also be turned into MMOW organizers in local communities.
"As a statewide organizer, I'm a strong believer in listening to the wisdom of grassroots activists," said Dianne Hardy-Garcia, co-executive director of M MOW and executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Lobby of Texas, one of the nation's largest state GLBT groups. "For more than a year we listened to the thousands of incoming messages to March headquarters and from those grassroots responses we fashioned a platform ballot featuring the issues of greatest concern to our community. In a very real sense, the ballot itself was determined by community response and input," she added.
The official Millennium March ballot contains 13 issues: hate crimes legislation, obtaining the right to marry, non-discrimination in employment, the right to serve our country (including military service), lesbian health issues, AIDS/HIV issues, child custody and adoption rights, GLBT aging issues, immigration rights, GLBT youth issues, overturning anti-GLBT laws (including sodomy laws), right to privacy/choice, GLBT global issues. Voters could also write-in other issues for consideration.
While acknowledging that all of the proposed platform issues are of concern to the GLBT communities, organizers encouraged participants to vote for up to five top concerns in a process to determine the priorities of the community.
"The MMOW Board of Directors is committed to seeing that the issues featured in the March's platform and during the Rally accurately reflect the priorities of our diverse communities," said Nicole Murray-Ramirez, a member of the March's board of directors and one of four MMOW co-chairs.
"The use of new technologies allowed us to reach out to every part of the country," said Murray-Ramirez, "and to involve thousands and thousands of people who would not have been able to take time off from work and travel long distances to take part, as was required in the past."
"In addition to the issues, the balloting process reveals a remarkably high degree of activism on the part of respondents," noted Lazin. "More than 94% of those taking part in the MMOW platform ballot are registered to vote, 76% plan to attend the March and Rally, and 72% have committed to visit their Congressperson as part of MMOW Lobby Days. And 4000 people have offered to serve as local MMOW volunteer organizers in their communities," added Lazin, who also serves as executive director of PrideFest America, the nation's largest annual GLBT symposium and festival headquartered in Philadelphia.
The MMOW Board of Directors will analyze, ratify and announce the ballot results during the upcoming Board Meeting in Washington, DC. The MMOW Board Meetings will take place from 9 AM to 5 PM on Dec. 5 and 6 at the Washington Plaza Hotel, Massachusetts Avenue and 14th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. Meetings are open to the public and include a public comment period.
The platform results will form the basis of stage presentations during the MMO W Rally on the National Mall. The platform will also be distributed to White House officials, members of Congress and the national media.
The Millennium March on Washington, scheduled for April 30, 2000, is the fourth national GLBT civil rights march in the US and the first human rights march of the new millennium. A free e-mail newsletter is available upon request by writing MMOW2000@aol.com.
For more information on the March on Washington for Equality, visit the official website at www.mmow.org or write to MMOW2000@aol.com.