Protesters rally against ban on gay marriage

11/17/08 Concetta DeLuco
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In protest of the passing of Amendment 2 that bans same-sex marriage in Florida, hundreds gathered at Mirror Lake Park in St. Petersburg on Saturday. Rallies were also held in Hillsborough County and in cities across the country on Saturday to protest similar laws that were passed in the recent election.

The protest was part of a larger movement across the country called “Join the Impact” which originated in California on Nov. 7 to protest the passing of Proposition 8, a law similar to Amendment 2. The protest was complemented with an ongoing parade of passionate guest speakers from the community that went on to incite an already very enthusiastic crowd.

Demonstrator Karen Doering said the fight for marriage equality is more than just about the certificate. It is about the 1,500 rights that the government gives to heterosexual married couples that same-sex couples are being denied. These rights are important, Doering said, because they were created to provide a safety net to protect families in times of crisis.

“Join the Impact” gained support in more than 300 cities and 10 countries; the peaceful protests began at exactly the same time on Saturday. At one point during the rally in St. Petersburg, the crowd was instructed to face toward the northeast and wave because at that very moment those protesting in other cities would be waving back.

It has been argued by supporters of Amendment 2 that marriage is a religious rite between a man and a woman. The Rev. Gay Bosley Mitchell from Trinity United Church of Christ in St. Petersburg said she supports marriage between any two people that are in a monogamous relationship. It is the commitment that is the most important aspect of a marriage, Mitchell said and the Church needs to accept that as well.

An African-American lesbian, Yasmin Jones said she is proud of both of her identities, but with the election of Obama as president and the disappointing passing of Amendment 2, she said we have simply swapped one discrimination for another and that is not acceptable.

Janice Josephine Carney, a transgendered woman, said that rallies like the one on Saturday are great because they excite people, but she also fears that they encourage violence, particularly against transgenders.

On election day in Arkansas, a law was passed that allows only heterosexual couples to adopt or provide foster care for children. In Arizona, citizens passed Proposition 107 which banned homosexual marriage. Similarly, about 52 percent of Californians voted to pass Proposition 8, which can repeal the marriages of more than 18,000 same-sex couples.

Mary Tavarozzi and her partner Deborah Lansing have been together 17 years. They were married in California on Oct. 4; gay marriage was legalized in California on June 17, 2008. Tavarozzi and Lansing worry that their marriage will no longer be recognized.

Rebecca Pena is disappointed that she is unable to marry her partner of two years in her own state of Florida, so she is going to Massachusetts on Nov. 24 to tie the knot. Pena said the passing of Amendment 2 has inspired her to start a grassroots organization called Never Give Up On Equal Rights; its mission is self explanatory.

Join the Impact has joined forces with several other organizations to continue the movement toward equal marriage rights and hope this worldwide rally will spark a Civil Rights movement.

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