23 years ago today, in an act of civil disobedience at the US Supreme Court 600 people were arrested while protesting the Bowers v. Hardwick decision which upheld the constitutionality of Georgia’s sodomy law. As it is a Federal offense to protest on the steps of the US Supreme Court building.
This was the largest act of civil disobedience since the Vietnam War. It happened two days after the 2nd march on Washington which drew over a half million people and displayed nearly 2,000 panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
As time goes on, we see fewer and fewer people participating in protests like these within our movement. It’s extraordinarily difficult to energize LGBT people in the ways we were energized in the 80s. Part of that certainly is due to the fact that many of us were dying from AIDS. There’s a sense of urgency that groups like ACT UP was able to harness to turn out the masses at demonstrations around the country. We saw some of that energy after Proposition 8 was passed in California, which was exhillerating to be a part of, but where is that drive now?
What must be done to regain the sense of urgency we had then? How do we mobilize our community so that our elected leaders know that our civil rights must be a priority?