Equal Marriage Rights Now!

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PRIDE, an MCTC student group marched last sunday on a mission to fight for gay rights. (photograph by: Bjorn Hunstad)

About 100 equality activists marched down the streets of Minneapolis on Sunday, Oct. 30, starting at the Government Plaza and heading towards

PRIDE, an MCTC student group marched last sunday on a mission to fight for gay rights. (photograph by: Bjorn Hunstad)

the downtown Target store.
Standing atop a marble bench in the plaza courtyard, member of Join the Impact Nick Shillingford rallies the crowd from his megaphone. The crowd chanted exuberantly, “Gay, straight, black, white, one struggle, one fight!” as they walked.
Join the Impact, who advocated the afternoon event, has been organizing since frustration came out around the Proposition 8 amendment in California. Proposition 8 was passed during the Nov. 2008 elections eliminating the rights for same-sex couples to marry.
“We’ve been organizing not just for marriage equality, [but] for full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual [and] transgender people across the country and Minnesota,” said Shillingford.
Ashley Brand, Minneapolis Community and Technical College PRIDE club President, posted fliers around campus to promote the equality event. Voting for Minnesota’s proposed marriage amendment will take place Nov. 2, 2012 and could make the legality of same-sex marriage in the state possible.
“What kind of state would we like to live in?” asks Brand. “A state that discriminates against who they love or a state that values diversity and all people? We need to prove to the entire country that bigotry will not be tolerated in our state.”
While tabling fliers and free buttons, Socialist Alternative member Chris Gray said the group tries to challenge these issues within the workplaces and schools and is “trying to point out the corporate funders of right wing propaganda.”
According to Grey, certain companies who support groups like PRIDE are also donating to political figures against the same-sex movement, such as Michele Bachmann. Grey said, “It’s not okay to do both. You can’t just play both sets of cards and expect to win.”
This past Summer, Republican representative Bachmann signed an anti-gay marriage pledge.
“Target is the single largest individual contributor to Michele Bachmann’s campaign last year,” said Shillingford, “She’s become the national face of hate across America and across the world as far as anti-gay and anti-LGBT.”
Target’s other large political donations include supporting Republican Tom Emmer, who also takes the stance of heterosexual marriage only. Although Target claims to provide donations to groups or other companies on both sides of the issue, it struggles to mend its reputation with the gay community and it’s offended LGBT workers and staff.
“We’re going to highlight and raise awareness about this issue and pressure [companies] to be careful where they’re writing their checks because it’s really effecting people’s lives”, said Grey.
A supporter following the march Bjorn Johnson said, “I think it’s important to stand up for marriage equality and make sure everyone is treated equally, and people are able to marry the people they love.”
A female student from the University of Minnesota performed two monologues at the beginning of the rally to inspire the humming crowd.
“There’s discrimination that needs to be overcome, and we’re all working together to change it,” said Grey.
A post-rally meeting also lead by Join the Impact is taking place at Grace Trinity Church Sunday, Nov. 6, at 1 p.m. to continue the movement and discuss strategies to promote full equality and defeat hate in Minnesota.
“We will fight for equality for all until it’s won,” said Brand, who had previous involvement with Impact, and will continue to remain active in these issues with PRIDE.
A final jump on the bench from Shillingford and cheer from the crowd ignites the march down to the streets of Minneapolis. “We’re trying to reach out and be this sort of center where a lot of groups can connect together,” said Shillingford, “where we can build a force to actually call out to those who are fighting hate and fighting for a better future. A world where we have equality,”
The fight for marriage equality and other LGBT rights has been a long fight in America, but the controversial Proposition 8 of California has not set the tone. In July 2011, the state of New York legalized gay marriage after intense debate. Supporters of gay marriage point to not only the ethics of equality, but the practical matters of being able to be medical proxies for their partners or adopt and have children without expensive and lengthy legal battles, as reasons why recognizing gay marriage is essential to equality.
The debate is far from over in Minnesota, but organizations like Join the Impact, PRIDE, and Socialist Alternative have thrown their hats in the ring to bring equality to Minnesota.