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At March, Gay Rights Activists Push for Nationwide Equality
"They told me that you didn't care and you wouldn't come," Mixner told the crowd. "The president asked us to help him, and help him we will."
The march occurred at a critical time for the gay-rights movement, with a president who has vowed to fight for equality and Democrats in control of Congress.
Obama pledged Saturday night at a fundraising dinner for the Human Rights Campaign that he would end the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but he provided no specifics on how. Many gay activists said that they are tired of waiting and that he should immediately move to repeal the military's policy and the Defense of Marriage Act.
Sue Null, 72, walked near the White House holding a sign that said "My Gay Children Deserve Rights."
The retired teacher said she traveled nine hours from Brevard, N.C., with dozens of others to represent children who were too busy working to make the trip. Of her four children, two are gay, she said.
"It's painful as a mother," she said. "It's discouraging. Every parent wants their children to have opportunities. But that's not what our government is about. I've seen nothing from the Obama administration."
Others seemed more hopeful.
"I love President Obama," said Kendra Bopp of Ashtabula, Ohio. "He's not perfect, but his heart's in the right place, and he's trying."
On Tuesday, David A. Catania (I-At Large), an openly gay member of the D.C. Council, introduced a bill that would allow same-sex marriages in the nation's capital. Council members have said they want to pass the measure by Christmas.
Maine is holding a referendum Nov. 3 that could overturn a state law approved in May that allows same-sex marriage. The vote is seen as a bellwether; five other states have legalized same-sex marriage, but none has done it with the affirmation of a popular vote.
Some District residents said they can taste victory.
Matthew Fornataro and William Dooner, a D.C. couple together for 3 1/2 years, said they want to get married as soon as the city will allow.
"Our country was founded on the idea all people are created equal," Fornataro said. "We as a country need to stand up for the ideals the founders based it on."
"D.C. is our nation's capital," said Jamie Stephens, who lives in the District. "If D.C. goes someplace, the rest of the nation is sure to follow. This is just a great steppingstone."