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Activists Protest Gay Marriage Ban

This story was written by Julia Ryan, The Eagle

Members of the American University community rallied in the rain Saturday against California voters' recent passage of Proposition 8, a referendum that banned gay marriages in that state.

Proposition 8 would amend the state Constitution of California to say that only a marriage between a man and a woman would be valid and recognized in the state. The proposition passed on Election Day with a 52 percent vote in favor of the amendment, according to The Washington Post.

Some who voted in favor of Proposition 8 heralded it as a decisive victory for American society, according to the Web site of the "Yes on 8" Campaign. Ron Prentice, Chairman of the Yes on 8 campaign, said in a blog post on the campaign's Web site that he is overjoyed that Proposition 8 passed in California.

"This is a great day for marriage," he said. "The people of California stood up for traditional marriage and reclaimed this great institution. We are gratified that voters chose to protect traditional marriage and to enshrine its importance in the state constitution."

John Marzabadi, executive director of AU Queers and Allies, said he was highly disappointed and upset about the referendum's passage.

"The entire lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is rife with frustration, anger and rage at the passage of Proposition 8," he said. "Members of our community poured their hearts and souls into this fight and I can assure you, the fight is never over. I can assure you the membership of Queers and Allies is engaged and determined to ensure LGBT equality - including marriage equality."

John Little, a graduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences, said he was outraged at Proposition 8's passage.

"Proposition 8 is legalized discrimination," he said. "I can't believe that people still feel this kind of prejudice. It's good to see that so many people across the country are organizing rallies and protests against it."

The march on Saturday started at the reflecting pool in front of the Capitol Building with a speech by Neil Glick, Advisory Neighborhood commissioner for District 6B08 - a Capitol Hill district. Glick discussed the reasons for the march and the injustice felt by many of the LGBT community.

"We demand full equality, full recognition and full benefits of marriage," he said. "When our nation was unjust to some citizens, people stood up and marched forward. When we march today, and every day, my friends, we do not march alone!"

Throughout the march, protesters chanted and carried signs with sayings such as "Hate is not a family value" and "Don't vote on my rights." Some protesters also waved rainbow flags and wore buttons for the Human Rights Campaign. Turnout at the event was very diverse, with people of all ages and from many different racial backgrounds attending.

Deborah D'Orazi, a freshman in the School of International Service, said she was inspired by the large turnout at the rally.

"There was definitely a strong sense of community at the rally. It's good that they had this because it brings national attention to the issue," she said.

At least 500 people participated in the protest in Washington, D.C. An estimated 1 million protesters demonstrated in 300 cities across the United States, according to the Post.

Maeg Keane, a junior in CAS, said she felt the protest made a positive difference.

"It was a great rally," she said. "Though Proposition 8 has already been passed, the fact that we were able to have this protest shows that not everyone agrees with its passing. We were fighting for civil rights, and the fact that so many people were there was such a beautiful thing."

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