Washington, D.C. » Tens of thousands of gay rights supporters rallied in the nation's capital Sunday, marching from the White House to the Capitol demanding federal action on a whole host of issues from workplace discrimination to marriage.
Among them were Reanna and Debbie Thompson, of West Jordan, who marched because their young son Liam may call Debbie his mom, but under Utah law she never can be.
"She needs to be able to adopt our son, that's why we are here," said Reanna Thompson.
Among them was Michelle Turpin, of Salt Lake City, who believes momentum is building in America for gay equality and the rally in Washington will be remembered as a key moment.
"I just didn't want to miss it," she said. "It is historical."
And among the masses were Stephen Justesen and his longtime partner Jim Dabakis, who came to Washington, D.C., not just for a rally, but to meet with the staff of all five of Utah's members of Congress.
"We showed up and let them know that they have gay constituents and these issues affect our daily lives," said Justesen, of Salt Lake City.
In all, more than 50 Utahns participated in the National Equality March, gathering behind a "Utah delegation" banner and a rainbow flag with the state's seal in the middle.
The march was first announced earlier this year by famed activist Cleve Jones at Utah's gay pride parade and on Sunday, Jones said the goal was nothing less than full equality on every issue in every state.
"We are equal in every respect," Jones said. "And soon we will be equal under the laws of this land."
Organizers and many of the participants appreciated the incremental steps in states such as Massachusetts, Iowa and Maine on the issue of marriage, but they demand big changes on the federal level.
"We don't want to wait another 25 or 50 years," said Bruce Bastian, of Orem, the founder of WordPerfect and a prominent gay rights activist. Bastian donated $100,000 to organize the march -- almost half of the total cost -- after meeting with Jones.
"Cleve and I believe very much that equality and general fairness is not going to happen in the United States until it is broadly across all 50 states. It is never going to be fair and equal if it is in little pockets," he said.
Basitan hopes those who attended the rally will go home and lobby their members of Congress, and Jones said national gay rights groups would create "action teams" in every congressional delegation.
"They are the ones that have to see us face to face even if they don't want to," Bastian told the crowd during the more than five-hour rally. "Make them hear you and hear our stories."
But the most prominent gay congressman, Barney Frank of Massachusetts, dismissed the equality march in an interview with The Associated Press, calling it "a waste of time at best." Multiple speakers at the event called Frank out of touch and said the march wasn't meant as an end of anything, rather it was intended as a way to ignite a new push for federal action.
"It isn't right for citizens to have different rights in different states," Debbie Thompson said. "This is a federal issue."
Saturday night, President Barack Obama spoke at a fundraising dinner for the Human Rights Campaign, promising to end the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which requires gay and lesbian members to keep their sexual orientation secret. He also said he wanted to see legal recognition of relationships between two men and two women.
Some, such as state Rep. Christine Johnson, of Utah, said Obama's speech was uplifting. "I believe he will keep his word," she said.
But others in the crowd, including Jones, remained skeptical of the new president, arguing he has dragged his feet on their issues and criticizing him for opposing gay marriage, though he does favor civil unions.
Signs in the crowd said: "Obama - Less talk, more action" and "How about the audacity of action Mr. President."