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Why Legislators Think You’re Wasting Your Time Marching on Washington

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While Cleve Jones & Co. will be able to rally thousands of supporters to Washington D.C. for the National Equality March in October, it doesn’t mean anyone in Congress is actually going to hear anyone’s demands for equality. And not just because all of Washington will have left the city for vacation! And not just because organizers won’t actually be demanding anything specific from legislators! But because, well, they’re too freakin’ busy.

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The U.S. Senate has other things to do besides deal with ENDA, DADT, and DOMA, you see. Like health care! The economy! Frat guys in Afghanistan! “We have a very heavy, busy agenda and a few months left to do it,” says Illinois’ Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, the majority whip. “So it may not be now, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be soon.”

Soon? Is that “soon” like the Obama administration’s definition of “soon”? Because to them, that word means “sometime in the next three years.”

Not helping things is the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy, a champion of equality legislation — and a man other people actually freakin’ listen to. And while it’s nice to hear folks like New York’s Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand have our backs about repealing DADT, even she was leaning on Kennedy’s office to actually make progress. Plus, she’s a JV senator in a room full of old-timers; it’s hard for newcomers to get a voice. Meanwhile, in the House, Massachusetts’ Rep. Barney Frank has hope for ENDA, but even passage by Congress doesn’t mean the Senate will get around to it — despite a sure-fire signage by Barack Obama.

None of this, however, is a reason not to have a march on Washington. Some will argue it’s all the more reason to do it. But lest anyone get their expectations up that finally, after installing a fierce advocate in the White House and giving both houses of Congress to the Democrats (many of whom made similar commitments to LGBTs), we’ll see some movement on our behalf, well, get realistic.