When his Walk Across America For Equality began, Palm Springs, Calif., resident Richard Noble received a proclamation of support from state Sen. Mark Leno, who is openly gay.
"I commend your unwavering strength and dedicated advocacy underscoring the important issues of the LGBT community," Leno wrote. "It is notable that you have dedicated your walk to the memory of Elizabeth Taylor as you work to promote the American Equality Bill in Congress. You are a role model for those who seek to change the world one step at a time."
As of this writing, Noble is in Texas, halfway across the United States from his starting point at San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.
"Necessity is the mother of activism," he said in a telephone interview to Windy City Times. "We are tired of the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Task Force bartering our equality with Washington pragmatics. While you are waiting for a Democratic majority you're sending a message to our youth that their lives aren't worth fighting for."
It was the death of 13-year-old Asher Brown that inspired Noble to take his walk. Technically, the bullied teen was a suicide, but Noble uses a much stronger word to describe what happened to Brown. "When Asher Brown was murdered, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. Here it is, 2012, and we still don't have our equality. Gay rights are human rights."
"I'm carrying the Rainbow Flag across America, and a copy of the American Equality bill," Noble said. He wants the bill to go before Congress immediately, and asks that people support it, either as an addendum to the 1964 Civil Rights Act or as a separate bill unto itself. The bill would give LGBT people the same sweeping protections that are offered to African Americans courtesy of the Civil Rights Act.
Noble reports that people have been kind and supportive as he makes his way across the country. He's been given food, and offered places to stay from total strangers. When he spoke in Salt Lake City, Mayor Ralph Becker declared a National Civil Rights March Across America Day in Noble's honor.
In Houston, Mayor Annise Parker, an out lesbian, gave him another proclamation.
After meeting with Parker, Noble headed over to Lakewood Church, whose pastor, Joel Osteen, conducts a television ministry and has publicly spoken out against marriage equality. "Homosexuality is shown as a sin in the scripture," Osteen stated in a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Beginning Jan. 27, Noble stationed himself in front of Lakewood Church to conduct a three-day fast to protest Osteen's remarks. "Pastor Osteen has hurt me with these statements, " he said. "He has a moral and civic duty to not go on TV and call us sinners. These negative messages are being reinforced. It's the job of the government to protect minorities."
Lakewood Church did not respond to calls from Windy City Times requesting a comment regarding Noble's action.
Noble hopes to garner more support for the National Equality Bill. When his walk concludes in Washington, D.C., he hopes to meet with openly gay Congessmen Jared Polis and Barney Frank. His goal is to get them to file the bill. However, he knows he can't do it alone.
"You have to take it to the streets," he urged supporters. "Visit your Congressmen, visit your schools. They talk about bullying but don't talk about homosexuality. We can't change the past, but people are waking up."
To support Richard Noble, and to follow his journey, look for him on Facebook or visit www.walk.usfreedomring.com .