Pic: (C) Elijah Nouvelage 2009

Tens of thousands of gays and lesbians marched on the American capitol on Sunday demanding LGBTI equality.

Named the National Equality March, the event took place on National Coming Out Day and a day after President Barack Obama recommitted himself to abolishing the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ ban on gay and lesbian military personnel and recognising same-sex relationships.

Leaders in the country’s LGBT rights movement and numerous celebrities, such as Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon, took part in the march and spoke at a gathering near the Capitol Building.

Among these was pop singer Lady Gaga who addressed the crowd. “Obama, I know you are listening. Are you listening? We will continue to push you and your administration to bring your words of promise to a reality,” she said.

Obama has been criticised for not committing to deadlines by which to revoke discriminatory laws in the US.

Other speakers included Judy Shepard, who lost her son Matthew in 1998 after he was beaten to death in a homophobic hate crime.

“I’m here today because I lost my son to hate,” said Shepard.

She went on to add: “No one has the right to tell my son whether or not he can work anywhere. Whether or not he can live wherever he wants to live and whether or not he can be with the one person he loves – no one has that right.”

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