How 1993’s Equality March on Washington Helped Bring About a Revolution [Photos]

Equality March 1993

The Equality March for Unity and Pride is this Sunday, June 11, and it’s expected to attract a record-breaking turnout. But this isn’t the first time the LGBTQ+ community has marched to the nation’s capital in order to bring about equality, progress and change. Almost 25 years ago, on April 25, 1993, queer people rallied at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Equality March for LGBTQ+ Rights and Liberation drew hundreds of thousands of people, estimated somewhere between 800,000 and a million, becoming one of the largest political rallies in U.S. history.

Related: World AIDS Day – The Story Behind the Most Iconic Visuals

Back then, it was a very, very different time for LGBTQ+ people, sadly, so the trailblazers who marched had specific and necessary demands they wanted the government to address. This equality march took place in a time when the HIV/AIDS crisis was very much still an epidemic. Mortality rates linked to the disease were still on the rise.

A lot of queer folks were mobilized and decided to take it upon themselves to change that. They were pissed off that HIV/AIDS had taken such a toll, so one of the key demands of the march was to secure more federal funding to help combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. This is where the iconic AIDS memorial quilt was unfolded, commemorating all the people that had been lost because of inaction.

Equality March 1993

Another important goal was to end the homophobic ban on LGBTQ+ serving in the military. A year later, in 1994, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was enacted. Although DADT was still very problematic, to say the least, it was seen as a political step forward, eventually leading to its full repeal in 2011.

Marchers also had other issues when wanted to be addressed: Inclusion of LGBTQ+ history in the classrooms, support for same-sex adoptions, and the end of systematic discrimination, not only for LGBTQ+ folks but for women and people of color that included ending racism and police brutality. You can read the entire platform for the 1993 Equality March below.

Like the Stonewall riots, the 1993 equality march helped pave the way for a lot of the progress that we often take for granted now. It was certainly a pivotal moment for LGBTQ+ rights and equality in America, and we have a lot to be grateful for thanks to these trailblazers.

But obviously, our job is not done. This year’s Equality March will serve as a way to stand up for ourselves in the Trump Era. How are you going to resist?

Full Platform of the 1993 Equality March

Action Statement Preamble to the Platform

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender movement recognizes that our quest for social justice fundamentally links us to the struggles against racism and sexism, class bias, economic injustice and religious intolerance. We must realize if one of us is oppressed we all are oppressed. The diversity of our movement requires and compels us to stand in opposition to all forms of oppression that diminish the quality of life for all people. We will be vigilant in our determination to rid our movement and our society of all forms of oppression and exploitation, so that all of us can develop to our full human potential without regard to race, religion, sexual orientation/identification, identity, gender and gender expression, ability, age or class. (April 25, 1993)

Platform Demands and Related Items

1. We demand passage of a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender civil rights bill and an end to discrimination by state and federal governments including the military; repeal of all sodomy laws and other laws that criminalize private sexual expression between consenting adults.
Passage of “The Civil Rights Amendment Act of 1991″ (HR1430 & S574).
Repeal of Department of Defense directive 1332.14.
Repeal of laws prohibiting sodomy, cross-gender expression (dress codes) or non- coercive sexual behavior between adults.
Amendment of the Code of Federal Regulations to recognize same-sex relationships.
Passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Implementation of, funding for and enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991.
Passage and implementation of graduated age-of-consent laws.

2. We demand massive increase in funding for AIDS education, research, and patient care; universal access to health care including alternative therapies; and an end to sexism in medical research and health care.
The provision of responsive, appropriate health care for people with disabilities, deaf and hard of hearing people.
Revision of the Centers for Disease Control definition of AIDS to include infections particular to women.
Implementation of the recommendation of the National AIDS Commission immediately.
A massive increase in funding for AIDS education, research and care — money for AIDS, not for war. This money should come from the defense budget, not existing social services.
An increase in funding and research to provide an independent study of HIV infection in women, People of Color, Bisexuals, Heterosexuals, children, and women to women transmission.
Access to anonymous testing for HIV.
No mandatory HIV testing.
A cure for AIDS.
The development and legalization of a national needle exchange program.
Free substance abuse treatment on demand.
The re-definition of sexual re-assignment surgeries as medical, not cosmetic, treatment.
The provision of appropriate medical treatment for all transgendered people in prisons and hospitals.
An increase in funding and research for chronic illness, including breast ovarian, and other cancers particular to women.
The right of all people with chronic illness, including HIV/AIDS, to choices in medical treatment as well as the right to end such treatment.

3. We demand legislation to prevent discrimination against Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgendered people in the areas of family diversity, custody, adoption and foster care and that the definition of family includes the full diversity of all family structures.
The recognition and legal protection of the whole range of family structures.
An end to abuse and exploitation of and discrimination against youth.
An end to abuse and exploitation of and discrimination against older/old people.
Full implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Health and Human Services Task Force on Youth Suicide.
Recognition of domestic partnerships.
Legalization of same-sex marriages.

4. We demand full and equal inclusion of Lesbians, gays, Bisexuals and Transgendered people in the educational system, and inclusion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender studies in multicultural curricula.
Culturally inclusive Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Studies program; and information on abortion, AIDS/HIV, childcare and sexuality at all levels of education.
Establishment of campus offices and programs to address Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender students’ special needs.
The ban of all discriminatory ROTC programs and recruiters from learning institutions.
An end to discrimination at all levels of education.

5. We demand the right to reproductive freedom and choice, to control our own bodies, and an end to sexist discrimination.
The right to control our bodies.
Unrestricted, safe and affordable alternative insemination.
An end to sterilization abuse.
That access to safe and affordable abortion and contraception be available to all people on demand, without restriction and regardless of age.
That access to unbiased and complete information about the full range of reproductive options be available to all people, regardless of age.

6. We demand an end to racial and ethnic discrimination in all forms.
Support for non-racist policies and affirmative action.
An end to institutionalized racism.
Equal economic opportunity and an end to poverty.
Full reproductive rights, improvement of pre-natal services, availability of alternative insemination for Lesbians and Bisexual women of color.
Repeal of all “English Only” laws and restore and enforce bilingual education.
Repeal all discriminatory immigration laws based on race and HIV status.
A commitment to ending racism, including internalized racism, sexism and all forms of religious and ethnic oppression in our communities and in this country.
An end to the genocide of all the indigenous peoples and their cultures.
Restoration of the self-determination of all indigenous people of the world.

7. We demand an end to discrimination and violent oppression based on actual or perceived sexual orientation/identification, race, religion, identity, sex and gender expression, disability, age, class, AIDS/HIV infection.
An end to anti-Semitism.
An end to sexist oppression.
An end to discrimination against people with disabilities, deaf and hard of hearing people.
An end to discrimination based on sexual orientation in all programs of the Boy Scouts of America.
An end to economic injustice in this country and internationally.
An end to discrimination against prisoners with HIV/AIDS.
An end to discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS, and those perceived as having HIV/AIDS.
An end to consideration of gender dysphoria as a psychiatric disorder.
An end to hate crimes including police brutality, rape and bashing.
An end to censorship.

Photos: Upworthy and HuffPost

Oscar Raymundo
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