(PALM SPRINGS, CA) Gay activist and author Charles Merrill, who originally donated thousands of dollars in the National Equality March on Washington, D.C., coming up on Oct. 11, 2009, is calling upon the gay community to cancel the march.
Merrill cites several reasons for his surprising change of heart.
The first being the recently introduced Respect for Marriage Act, written by New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler and 91 co-sponsors. If signed into law, the Respect for Marriage Act will repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and give legally married same-sex couples the same rights now enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.
DOMA singles out legally married same-sex couples for discriminatory treatment under federal law, selectively denying them critical federal responsibilities and rights, including programs like social security that are intended to ensure the stability and security of American families.
"In view of the recent action by Congressman Nadler," explained Merrill, who has protested DOMA and called for its repeal since it was signed into law 13 years ago, "I have no reason to march and do not wish to inflame Congress or the President by doing so."march and do not wish to inflame Congress or the President by doing so."
But Merrill's plea to the LGBT community to cancel the National Equality March altogether stems from what he sees as a disturbing -- and ultimately damaging -- association between LGBT activists and Marxist march organizers Cleve Jones and Sherry Wolf.
Merrill, a Democrat and a capitalist who has long worked to secure equal rights for LGBT people, believes Wolf and Jones are using the march as a platform to further their own socialist agenda. The overwhelming majority of LGBTs are Democrats who support the free enterprise system, not socialists or Marxists, and Merrill fears all gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons could end up portrayed as socialists as a result of participating in the National Equality March -- and if that happens, President Obama is likely to further distance himself from the LGBT community.
Merrill articulated his concerns in a posting on gay news blog Queerty.com: "LGBTs going to the march are going to be branded as Communists because of socialist propaganda from march organizers Sherry Wolf and Cleve Jones," Merrill wrote. "Both are giving a major workshop on socialism scheduled at the march. Wait till Glen Beck and FOX hear about this dizzy propaganda."
“The only way for the LGBT community to avoid alienating lawmakers and escape the Communist label,” said Merrill, “is to cancel the National Equality March completely.”
Alfred University history professor and Queer America author Vicki Eaklor is taken aback by how the terms communism and socialism are being thrown around.
“I know we're hearing the words communism and socalism a lot more frequently because of the healthcare argument, but it’s dismaying to see once again how they affect our movement and turn us into anti-Communist police," Eaklor said. “It’s like we’re back in the 50’s. Thas been a lot of internal division within our movement that has been very difficult to overcome. Some of it is personality but much of it is fundamental ideology, which affects strategy. I find it appalling, that this would be a reason to cancel the march for equality. This seems to reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of Marxism and all its forms and we should not once again play into the hands of the conservative right wing and shape our movement around their attacks.”