Hundreds Of Floridians March On
Joseph Erbentraut EDGE Great Lakes Regional
Editor October 15,
Floridians with their banner stand in front of the White House during the
National Equality March on Sunday, Oct. 11.(Source:Mark Bias)
A several hundred-strong contingent of Floridians who traveled from
the Sunshine State to participate in the National Equality March were among the
estimated 150,000 people who converged on the nation’s capitol this past
Florida activists who marched in Washington
said they cherished the opportunity to meet with others from throughout the
state. The leaders to whom EDGE spoke said the connections they made and energy
they said they experienced at the weekend’s march would be instrumental in
generating momentum to continue the fight against Amendment 2 and the gay
Edward Kring, one of the principal
organizers behind the multiple busloads of activists from practically every
corner of the state, described the experience as "breathtaking."
"I’ve never been a part of anything like this before," Kring said.
"I’ve been to many rallies for women’s rights, gay rights and education, but
this was completely unparalleled. When we marched in front of the White House,
yelling for our civil rights, and saw the Capitol building ... You felt a sense
of ownership. This was democracy at its best."
political science major at Florida State University, said he was impressed not
only with the turnout and energy from his age group but also the strong messages
of support from Lady Gaga, actress Cynthia Nixon and other cultural
Anthony Farver, executive director of the
activist group Stand Up Florida and another bus organizer, added he was
impressed by the unity he felt from the diverse group of Floridians who rallied
at the march - whom he felt had the best banner and were "the loudest state." He
recognized the march as what he described representative of a changing of the
guard for the movement, both in terms of strategy and of
"The experience was wonderful for everyone.
Seeing the way we marched, coming together and uniting the youth marchers and
older marchers like me was my highlight. The youth are our future," Farver said.
"When we marched in front of the
White House, yelling for our civil rights, and saw the Capitol building... You
felt a sense of ownership. This was democracy at its best."
Florida also made its presence felt at the march through
Tobias Parker, a transgender man who spoke at the rally; Equality Florida
executive director Nadine Smith, a member of the march’s executive board and
Freedom Democrats leader Chip Arndt, who served as board treasurer. As Arndt
reflected on looking out over the assembled crowd of thousands, he also
recognized the changing face of the movement.
"I saw the
torch being passed from the generation of people who are operational heads of
these national organizations to the younger generation," Arndt said. "It looks
like we’re off the playing field and we’re now the coaches on the sideline to
all these young people coming out and standing up for their
younger generation is] wonderfully impatient and they’re done waiting," Arndt
said. "As I like to say, fairness is not negotiable. We shouldn’t need to still
be negotiating for our rights like we have been for so many
As Arndt looked ahead to the next steps of the
national movement, he said he expected the nearly instantaneous organizing
through social networking that helped spur on the national march would continue
to play a crucial role.
And in terms of action back home
in Florida, both Krieg and Farver said they were excited to jump back into the
ring. Krieg said a statewide advocacy network is in the works to focus on
lobbying within congressional districts. Farver also noted his organization’s
name change - removing "Southwest" - as further indicative of a statewide
"This march has started a new movement in
Florida," Farver said. "Through the bus ride, the march and everything, we’ve
all met new people throughout the state and I could not be more proud of us. I’m
excited to see what the next few months will bring. I think we’ll see a lot
Joseph covers news,
arts and entertainment and lives in Chicago.
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Florida Activists Prepare For March On
Joseph Erbentraut EDGE Great
Lakes Regional Editor September 29,
Activists from across
Florida are planning to attend the March on Washington next month.
With less than two weeks to go
before the march on Washington, Florida activists are ready to make the trip
north to rally with activists from around the nation for in support of federal
legislation that would protect LGBT Americans.
activists in the Southern part of the state, Anthony Farver, president of
Stand-Up SWFL [Southwest Florida,] is leading the charge for action. Farver said
he decided to lead the effort to transport busloads of Floridians to the
nation’s capitol after attending a rally at the Utah Pride Festival this summer.
He has since packed buses filled with more than 300 activists of all ages and
backgrounds and became a member of the march’s national steering
"It’s time that we got our rights back here
in Florida, and show that we will no longer put up with being treated like
second class citizens," Farver told EDGE, noting he had a waiting list for bus
riders. "It’s time we get treated like everyone else."
The buses will leave Orlando, Miami, Naples and Fort Myers before
they pick-up more march attendees in North Florida.
Edward Kring, coordinator for the Northwest Floridian contingent,
noted response from riders has been strong. He added he feels Amendment 2’s
passage last fall has motivated many to participate. Kring said he hopes the
march would help energize Florida’s activists--particularly younger people who
may not remember previous Washington marches.
"We have a
lot of work to do and we’re trying to encourage young activists to join in and
show that we have to lead the way here in Florida," Kring, who is a political
science student at Florida State, said.
"It’s time that we got our
rights back here in Florida, and show that we will no longer put up with being
treated like second class citizens."
Kring added he
feels the biggest challenge still ahead for him and other bus organizers in the
state was funding. He is still at work in efforts to secure sponsorship of
supplies for bus riders on the long trip. But he remains
"I hope to give students the opportunity to
feel that this is their democracy as well, and that they have a part in building
our future at both the state and national level," Kring added. "It’s going to
take all of us coming together and saying enough is enough with divisive
politics and trivial matters. We want to get to together as one human family
rather than dividing based on political ideologies and sexual
In addition to the grassroots efforts to
pack buses with Washington-bound Floridians, the Sunshine State’s presence is
also felt on the march’s national board with Equality Florida executive director
Nadine Smith serving as co-chair.
"[A]fter years of
political gridlock in DC, I believe this is a moment when new energy, new
organizing tools and new ideas can infuse this movement and take us to our
destination at accelerated speed," Smith said in an op-ed published in a South
Florida LGBT newspaper. "I believe we must bring together the infrastructure,
discipline and experience of seasoned organizers with the energy, impatience and
breakthrough thinking of new activists."
More than 80
organizations in Florida have also signed on to endorse the march on Washington,
through the efforts of Organizations United Together (OUT), a coalition of LGBT
and allied organizations fighting for LGBT rights formed earlier this
Joseph covers news,
arts and entertainment and lives in Chicago.
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