Gay Speaker Exclusion at Million More March Breaks Promise

Breaking an agreement reached in a meeting in mid October, the
Million More March organizers excluded an openly gay speaker from the
stage on Saturday. Though March organizers originally balked at
including a gay speaker, a meeting Oct. 12 with gay and lesbian
African-American leaders and Minister Louis Farrakhan and Rev. Willie
Wilson resulted in an agreement that longtime activist, author and
openly gay Keith Boykin would speak.

"The march's goal was unity but the result was division," said Donna
Payne, senior diversity organizer for the Human Rights Campaign and a
participant in the Oct. 12 meeting. "Minister Farrakhan and Rev. Willie
Wilson went back on their word this weekend. It's past time for us to
speak the truth and that means being honest about the diversity within
the African-American community. We're owed an apology."

On Oct. 12, Human Rights Campaign's Donna Payne, Keith Boykin and
National Black Justice Coalition Executive Director Alexander Robinson
met with Minister Louis Farrakhan and Rev. Willie Wilson. The group
agreed to allow Boykin to speak on the march.

But when Payne and Boykin arrived at the march on Saturday, Boykin was
not featured on the speakers list. Rev. Wilson told the two that Boykin
would not be appearing on stage, saying they hadn't called back to
confirm. The group confirmed with Minister Farrakhan's assistant as
agreed to during the meeting.

"There is no way we're going to come together as a community if people
are shut out," said Alexander Robinson of the National Black Justice
Coalition. "Minister Farrakhan has previously kept his word while Rev.
Wilson has been anything but cooperative. Regardless of who's
responsible, it's time for someone to step up and say enough."

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