This past Saturday, members from the LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*) community of San Antonio came together to protest unequal marriage laws at the March for Marriage Equality.
Beginning in Milam Park downtown, activists marched to the Bexar County Courthouse with cheers that demanded equality “here and now.” Since gay and lesbian couples cannot legally marry in Texas, the march allowed couples to be “married” on the courthouse steps. While not legal, their marriages served as peaceful protests against what they stated as outdated and unjust laws.
These commitment ceremonies took place across the state of Texas.
Following National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11, the march highlighted ways in which members of the LGBTQIA community lack equal civil rights afforded to heterosexuals. Gay and lesbian couples also lack legal and financial benefits that come with a state recognized marriage.
“Over 1,138 federal rights provided by marriage are denied to families (of same-sex) due to state and federal regulations like the Defense of Marriage Act,” Jay Morris, state leader for GetEQUAL, said. “There is a need to protect the 17,000 same-sex couples in Texas who are raising children together.”
The march was organized by members of LGBTQIA San Antonio. John Deau Domingue, a Trinity University student who was one of the march organizers, said, “Creating this event took several months, hard work, countless emails, texts and phone calls.” Domingue, who was pleased with the resulting protest, believes students are, “more empowered than they realize… they are a powerhouse in bringing change.”
Keefer, who is also a member of Trinity’s Sexual Diversity Alliance said she protested to “pave the way for future generations, so that they can be free to love without someone telling them their love is wrong.
“It’s important for students to have a safe environment to be themselves and be accepted by their peers,” Keefer said.
The rally was also supported by members of the UTSA’s GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning) club. Sean Goerner, who serves as the political committee chair for GLBTQ, believes the anti-gay marriage laws in Texas are largely due to “ignorance and close-mindedness.
“People are just afraid of what they don’t know, and, if they choose to educate themselves or get to know a GLBTQ person, those feelings would vanish,” Goerner said.
Goerner notes that Dick Cheney, a notoriously conservative politician, supports gay marriage, largely because one of his daughters is a lesbian.
With roughly 70 members the GLBTQ club is one of the largest organizations on campus, already an indication of the kind of change that can be brought about when people stand up against discrimination and are free to be themselves. This past Wednesday, Oct. 12, GLBTQ hosted their special ‘Bring an Ally’ meeting in which all who support the GLBTQ community could come out and show their support of equality for members of GLBTQ. Over a hundred members and their allies occupied the UC Ballroom during this event. As support for LGBTQIA rights increases, many are speaking out against unequal treatment by the law.
“This is a matter of human rights,” Isabel Engle said, an organizer for GetEQUAL Texas. “Peaceful protesting and having a voice in the government is what democracy is all about and it may not be long before America looks back on marriage inequality as an injustice of the past.”