Columbus, Ohio — On March 24, 2012, a grassroots coalition of Ohio activists will stage a Rally for Marriage Equality in Cleveland that includes a mass wedding of same-sex couples and straight allies in an effort to highlight the discrimination faced by same-sex couples in Ohio. This rally was spearheaded on facebook by “Support Gay Marriage in Ohio” (http://www.facebook.com/MarriageEqualityOhio), which has over 200,000 fans. This page is the brainchild of Adam Hoover, a 17-year old from Harrison, Ohio, who has organized previous rallies in Cincinnati and Columbus. A group of local activists in Cleveland joined the group to organize on the ground and help make this event a huge success.
The rally will take place in Willard Park/Free Stamp at 9th and Lakeside Avenue at 11:30AM. People will gather beginning at 11:00AM at Willard Park and some will be meeting at Public Square to march through downtown to Willard Park. The rallies in Cincinnati and Columbus drew from 300-450 people; more than 2,500 have registered to attend the rally in Cleveland and nearly 200 couples have registered for the wedding.
The rally will feature brief speeches from a broad cross-section of the LGBT community in Ohio and Cleveland. Among the expected speakers are Ed Mullen of Equality Ohio, Tom Morgan and Autumn Leaf of GetEqual, Bishop Heckman of the Reformed Catholic Church, Jacob Nash from TransOhio, George Baum from St. Patrick, Dwayne Steward from Make it Better Foundation, Sherry Bowman from Movement in Black, Max Blachman from U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown’s office, State Representative Nickie Antonio, Green Party Senate Candidate Joe Demare, Judy Benson from Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, Bob Sferra from the LGBT Center of Cleveland, and Pastor Robert and Joyce Strommen Cleveland Stonewall Democrats and Cleveland PFLAG.
Following the speeches, the crowd will march to the Galleria at 1301 East 9th Street for the wedding ceremony, which will be led by a diverse group of religious and secular officiants.
“With recent victories in New York, Washington, and Maryland, the momentum for marriage equality has never been more powerful,” says Ed Mullen of Equality Ohio. “Same-sex couples in Ohio want their love and commitment to be recognized by the state so that they will have the same rights and responsibilities as other couples and families.”
Organizer Adam Hoover says: “I want every person to be able to be who they are. We want the same things as all couples do — to settle down, to commit our lives to the person we love, and to raise children. Marriage should not be a privilege available to some but not all.”