I carried two flags today

On my lapel, actually. One was the standard U.S. flag lapel pin, and the other a large, round, glossy button with a Rainbow Flag motif. I marched in Walla Walla’s Veteran’s Day Parade today, with the Walla Walla chapter of Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG.

Walla Walla is not an especially friendly place for LGBT people. Referendum 71, Washington’s “everything but marriage law,” received about 6,000 votes for and 9,000 votes against here. For that reason, it was with some trepidation that I marched holding one side of the Walla Walla PFLAG banner.

Some, but not much. I firmly believe that equal rights for LGBT people is one of the great civil rights causes of our time, and I was prepared to face any kind of opposition in standing up for it. I held one corner of the banner in one hand, and a smaller sign reading “Don’t ask, who cares?” in the other. I smiled and waved good morning at everyone we passed on the way, whether the answer was a stony-faced silence or a warm-hearted wave in return.

When our group was announced at the center of the parade, a small but vocal smattering of spectators raised raucous applause. Certainly many of them, if not all, were a part of the 6000 I mentioned earlier. For this reason, the smile I wore through the march lasted long after, even as my rain-soaked clothes continued to dry.

I carried two flags today, representing two entities in which I believe absolutely. One is participatory democracy, in which any group of people, if their cause is just and their will resolute, can bring about change. The other is equal rights for all, and no rights withheld from any minority provided they do not clash with the rights of others. Both causes were represented in force today on Walla Walla’s Main Street. May that ever be so.

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