The courageous Equality Riders change hearts and minds at every campus they visit. They are unafraid to engage in dialogue with their staunchest critics, and in doing so, they help lead their critics to a place of greater understanding. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the Equality Riders for their integrity and their unwavering faith in the power of honest, open communication. They are making America a better place.
— The Task Force
The Equality Ride is a unique opportunity for student activism. Much like HRC’s Youth College, the Equality Ride empowers young adults to dedicate their time and energy toward the pursuit of GLBT equality. The Human Rights Campaign understands that youth activism is a vital part of every justice movement. With history as our guide, we know that great things can happen when young adults come together to fight passionately for equality and freedom. The Equality Ride follows in those footsteps of history and there is no doubt in my mind that when this group of young adults does justice together great things will happen once again.
— Winnie Stachelberg, Vice President, The Human Rights Campaign Foundation
As a person of faith, I know that when my neighbor suffers from discrimination, then I suffer, and so does the entire community. As a public servant, I have sought to bring people together who may not agree, establishing shared values and developing trust and goodwill as we work together to heal our communities, care for those in need, and construct a common future. Sometimes confrontation is necessary in politics, but more often it is conversation – one-on-one interactions where each party makes itself vulnerable to the other as they open themselves to the possibility of change – that has immediate impact on the lives of people. Thank you for inviting faith communities to join our national dialogue about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender equality.
— Keith Ellison, Member of Congress Serving Minnesota’s 5th District
It is time to end the practice of educational institutions shunning GLBT students. It is time to reverse the inherent lessons embedded in such practices that GLBT people are inferior – lessons that repeat the mistakes of the past and are implicit in policies of ostracism. Our country is not strengthened nor enlightened when colleges and academies perpetuate myths, lies and injustices through policies that in effect, judge and condemn, and deny our nation the full talents and potential of our GLBT family and friends. For these reasons, PFLAG applauds the Equality Ride and celebrates the optimism, enthusiasm and New Day it represents.
— Jody Huckaby, Executive Director, PFLAG
Every day, our military fires an average of 2 people simply because they happen to be gay. The United States Armed Forces – the nation’s largest employer of young people – also fires more young gay Americans than any other employer, and they do so under federal sanction. Educational opportunities, such as those presented by the service academies, are not available to young people who are openly gay. The doors of opportunity so many Americans find in our armed forces are closed to the LGBT community. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network salutes the Equality Riders for bringing attention to this un-American injustice and for their courageous stand in support of liberty and opportunity.
— C. Dixon Osburn, Executive Director, Service Members Legal Defense Network
This is a real opportunity for glbt youth to actively involve themselves in helping to change religious and military colleges. The only way we will change minds is when people meet us as a person and not as a label, and this ride will help do that.
— Rev. Elder Troy D. Perry, Moderator and Founder, Metropolitan Community Church
There is no better way to end anti-gay prejudice than to give non-gay people a chance to talk directly with us, person to person, and hear the realities of gay lives and needs, not stereotypes or falsehoods. When young people speak, they open hearts and minds and reach the reachable — and this Equality Ride brings them, their stories, and their personal engagement to centers of hostility toward gay people, places where people most need to hear the truth and have a chance to talk and think it through.
— Evan Wolfson, Executive Director, Freedom to Marry
I am happy to support the goal of the Equality Ride to better inform Americans, including those at military and religious colleges, of the need to deal honestly with issues of concern to the GLBT community. Dialogue, debate, Scriptural study and the promotion of true academic freedom should make the Equality Ride a powerful educational vehicle.
— The Rev. Barry Lynn, UCC Minister and Civil Liberties Activist
The Equality Rides offer the opportunity to stigmatize homophobia and American society’s acceptance of conservative Christian homophobia based on the Bible. We must vigorously embrace the redemptive power of love and nonviolence used by Gandhi and King. We must follow the guidelines and strategies used by the African American Civil Rights Movement to sustain massive nonviolent resistance and social protest throughout the nation until justice is achieved. We must inspire our fellow Americans who believe in equality and justice to join us and work together to expedite political and social change.
— Dr. Rodney Powell, A gay man who helped to lead the Freedom Rides during the summer of 1961.
To read Dr. Powell’s complete letter click here.
I offer my support and endorsement of this important venture. April 4, 2008 will be the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Many of us remember that on April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York City he delivered his "Beyond Vietnam" speech that challenged the Vietnam War. Many persons who supported the Civil Rights Movement when it dealt with racial injustice, disagreed with his stance. They said, incorrectly, that there was no relationship between his resistance to racism and his resistance to the Vietnam War. They were wrong.
Today, those who see no relationship between racism and heterosexism are making the same mistake that those who criticized Dr. King and his resistance to the war in Vietnam.
"None of us are free until all of us free". May your efforts stimulate conversation where there has been none, encourage African American Gay persons who have experienced discrimination within their own communities and institutions because of their sexual orientation, and challenge those who do not condone the "n" word when used against African Americans but who use the "f" word when speaking of Gay persons and see no contradiction in their use of that word.
— Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell, retired United Methodist Minister who participated in the "Mississippi Freedom Summer" of 1964, the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965, and the March on Washington