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Gay rights advocates gather ahead of Obama's speech

  • Story Highlights
  • Protesters are opposed to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy
  • Organizer: "I think we need action, real action. We need it now"
  • Gay rights advocates will rally in Washington on Sunday
By Greg Clary and Cody Combs
CNN
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Gay rights advocates gathered near the Washington Monument on Saturday to express opposition to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy just hours before President Obama was expected to speak to the Human Rights Campaign on issues affecting the gay community.

Many of the protesters said they were disappointed with what they saw as Obama's inaction on gay rights.

"I don't think that President Obama has done enough. I think we need action, real action, we need it now. We are standing up to demand our equal basic human rights, and that's what this is about," said Dave Valk, who helped organize the protest for the National Equality March.

During his presidential campaign, Obama frequently said he would urge Congress to overturn the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which bans homosexuals from serving openly in the military.

The issue hasn't exactly been at the forefront for a president who has been dealing with a faltering economy, health care and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Participants described the march as spontaneous, organized by text messages and social networking sites.

"It's a flash protest, we simply put out a mass text, and you know, within 40 minutes we have this, everyone in town just decided to show up," said Valk.

Gay rights activists from across the United States are descending upon Washington on Sunday to call for equal rights. They'll be marching past the White House to the Capitol for a rally.

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