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Saluting the new faces of the gay rights movement

The face of the gay rights movement has suddenly changed in the past few weeks as Lt. Dan Choi, Constance McMillen and Derrick Martin have declared that they refuse to sit on the back of the bus any longer.

GetEQUAL determined that civil disobedience is necessary to get America to pay attention to the plight of the LGBT community.

Choi and former Capt. Jim Pietrangelo chained themselves to a White House fence to protest inaction on repealing the military’s controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy that allows gays and lesbians to serve their country as long as they remain in the closet. Both were arrested while wearing their uniforms. But the two soldiers – both of whom were drummed out of the military for being openly gay -- put a human face on why DADT is not working.

Constance wanted to bring her girlfriend to the prom in Mississippi, but she was denied by the school board. She sued, and a judge ruled that her constitutional rights were violated – potentially a groundbreaking ruling on behalf of LGBT students across the U.S.

Derrick got permission to bring his boyfriend to the prom in Georgia, but his joy was short-lived because his parents then kicked him out of the house. The incident shows how some parents react to having gay or lesbian children: It’s not always with love and support.

GetEQUAL staged a series of protests nationwide, timed to go along with the act of civil disobedience by Choi and Pietrangelo. The upstart group sponsored sit-ins in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s offices in the Capitol and in San Francisco, where the protesters were eventually arrested and removed. They were putting the focus on issues dear to the heart of the LGBT community.

These brave people are now on the frontlines of the gay rights movement, risking life and limb to fight for their rights. To each we owe a debt of gratitude and a big thanks for their courage.