Columbus – On Saturday, March 24th, Cleveland will host what is expected to be the largest rally for marriage equality in the Midwest. Thousands will rally in favor of marriage equality in Ohio, and couples — LGBT and allied — will then gather in a civil marriage ceremony as a tangible demonstration of support for marriage equality.
This event and others that have preceded it in Columbus and Cincinnati are the brainchild of 17 year-old grassroots organizer and LGBT activist Adam Hoover.
“This is a cause that’s close to my heart. The vast majority of my generation, along with the one behind and ahead, are on the same page when it comes to equality: we want it and we want it now,” says Adam. “Think about it. Stonewall happened only 33 years ago. We’ve made so much progress in such a short time. This may not be the final frontier for LGBT rights, but it’s certainly one of the most important causes we can advocate for.”
Since the 2004 referendum that wrote marriage discrimination into Ohio’s Constitution, many organizations and individuals have taken to the cause of equality. With recent victories in Washington and Maryland, the momentum has never been stronger. This change is supported by polls, like those recently completed by the Pew Research Center that showed Americans support same-sex marriage 46% to 44% (http://www.people-press.org/2011/11/03/the-generation-gap-and-the-2012-election-3/11-3-11-86/). Members of the millennial generation are supporting marriage equality by an even larger margin, 59% to 35%.
“The evidence is there,” says Ed Mullen of Equality Ohio. “With each new generation, support for marriage equality rises. It is no longer a matter of if, but rather when, this will happen. I believe it will be sooner than many think.”
Same-sex couples in Ohio will show that their love and commitment should be recognized by the state so that they will have the same rights and responsibilities as other couples and families.
“The marriage event concluding the day is a symbolic civil marriage ceremony,” says Zac Branstool, Communications Director for Equality Ohio. “We respect the sacrament of marriage in religious tradition, and we recognize the right of religious institutions to follow their own religious teachings on marriage. This is about the government refusing to grant civil marriage equality to same-sex couples, and we want the public to see the beauty and joy of people engaging in a legal ceremony that is unjustly denied to them.”
In addition to the march and civil marriage ceremony, Equality Ohio will sign up people to support LGBT civil rights (including safe schools and non-discrimination) at the rally and also register people to vote. Businesses and religious leaders, as well as political candidates and elected officials will speak out in favor of marriage for all.
The following is a list of supporters who are expected to be featured speakers:
Ed Mullen, Executive Director for Equality Ohio
Autumn Leaf and Tom Morgan, Get Equal
Bishop Heckman, Reformed Catholic Church
Jacob Nash, TransOhio
Rev. George Baum, St. Patrick Episcopal Church
CPT Steve Snyder-Hill, Plaintiff in the McLaughlin v. Panetta Case
Dwayne Seward, Make it Better Foundation
Sherry Bowman, Movement in Black
Ian James, Ohio Freedom to Marry Petition
Judy Benson, Old Lesbians Organizing for Change
Max Blachman, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown’s office
State Representative Nickie Antonio
Green Party Senate Candidate Joe Demare
Pastor Robert and Joyce Strommen, Cleveland Stonewall Democrats and Cleveland PFLAG
Equality Ohio advocates and educates to achieve fair treatment and equal opportunity for all Ohioans regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. For more information, visit www.equalityohio.orgor call us at (614) 224-0400.