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German MP to speak at gay equality rally in Philadelphia

Tony Grew March 4, 2009

A programme of events has been announced for America’s National Equality Rally at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on Sunday May 3rd.

There will be personal appearances by Volker Beck and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Mr Beck was violently assaulted in Moscow in 2007 while trying to take part in a gay rights demonstration.

The Green member of the German parliament and veteran gay rights activist was attacked by 20 religious protesters and punched in the face while he was giving a television interview.

Mayor Newsom attracted worldwide attention in 2004 when he authorised granting marriage licences to same-sex couples – making San Francisco the first city in America to do so.

Also on the day of the rally the 5th Annual National Interfaith Service will be held in Christ Church Philadelphia, the sanctuary where George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross worshiped.

The National Equality Rally will be held at Independence Hall.

Originally the Pennsylvania State House, the hall was the meeting place of the Second Continental Congress from 1775 to 1783.

The United States Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution were both signed at Independence Hall.

Equality Forum said that other LGBT groups and “people of colour, progressive religious institutions, high school and college gay/straight alliances and straight ally organisations” are invited to be co-organisers without cost or legal obligation.

The March for Equality on Independence Mall will pass by Benjamin Franklin’s burial site, the US Mint, National Constitution Centre, Federal Reserve Bank, Federal Office Building, the Gay Pioneers Historic Marker, Liberty Bell Centre and Independence Hall.

Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are where the Gay Pioneers held the first organised gay and lesbian civil rights demonstrations, called Annual Reminders, each Fourth of July from 1965 to 1969.

The Annual Reminders laid the groundwork for the Stonewall Riots in 1969 and the first New York Pride Parade in 1970.

“Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are where the movement was launched,” said Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director of Equality Forum.

“With a new Congress and a President who describes himself as a “fierce advocate” of our civil rights, it is the right moment for us to join hands at an iconic location to demand equality.”

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