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EQPA’s Adrian Shanker Speaks at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

This past Saturday, an estimated 100,000 people gathered in Washington D.C. to participate in a march to honor the 50th anniversary of the historic event where the Rev. Martin Luther King famously delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

At the event, at least a dozen civil rights leaders and public officials joined five gay and lesbian speakers in embracing LGBT equality. Our own President, Adrian Shanker, was among speakers such as Martin Luther King III, one of the lead organizers of the 50th Anniversary March on Washington and King’s oldest son, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous, who expressed LGBT rights as a part of broader civil rights.

Adrian Shanker expressed pride in speaking at this event, noting that we are “more equal than we were yesterday, but with so much farther to go before the dream that Dr. King shared will be realized.” He shared the LGBT rights issues still present in our Commonwealth:

“I stand here as a gay Pennsylvanian reflecting on the historic march 50 years ago, a march organized by another gay Pennsylvanian named Bayard Rustin. I stand here reflecting on the civil rights leaders who paved the paths that allow us to stand here today, more equal than we were yesterday, but with so much farther to go before the dream that Dr. King shared will be realized.

But today’s march is not just a commemoration. It is a march to mobilize our communities, to work for freedom, justice and equality under the law.

50 years ago, a half-million people marched for jobs.

In Pennsylvania, we can still be fired from our jobs because of our sexual orientation or gender identity. Congress needs to pass the Employment Non Discrimination Act to end job discrimination in America!

50 years ago, a half-million people marched for voting rights.

In Pennsylvania, our governor signed a voter ID law intended to suppress our votes. Congress needs to guarantee broad voting rights to protect our democracy!

50 years ago, a half-million people marched for education.

In Pennsylvania, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth face bullying in schools every day. Congress needs to pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act to make every school safe for all our children.

50 years ago, a half-million people marched for freedom.

In Pennsylvania, my legal marriage to my husband Brandon is not recognized by my government. In 37 states, same-sex couples do not have the freedom to marry the person we love – it is time for marriage equality for all Americans.

Bayard Rustin once said that ‘we need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.’ Let us return to our communities as angelic troublemakers to make the changes that will realize the dream!”

Other speakers at the March shared Shanker’s call for action, as we have made strides in achieving Dr. King’s dream, but we still have a long way to go to see the world that he dreamed of.

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