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Students Protest For Gay Rights

This story was written by Whitney Bossie, The Pendulum

Several Elon students participated in a nationwide protest on Saturday in response to Californias recent passage of Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage.

About 200 people gathered in front of the Melvin Municipal Office building in downtown Greensboro to protest. Some members of Spectrum, Elons lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender awareness organization, joined the fight for same-sex marriage.

Grace Helms, a junior and a member of Spectrum, went to Greensboro on Saturday. She said that although protestors were saddened by the passage of Proposition 8, the atmosphere remained upbeat.

It was kind of a celebration and a protest, all at once, she said.

Drummers played at the demonstration as protestors held handmade signs and rainbow flags and waved to the cars that passed by.

The ban passed in California on Election Day with 52 percent of the vote, just months after the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing same-sex marriage. As many as 18,000 couples married after the courts ruling in May. It has not yet been determined whether California will honor those marriages.

California has seen a rush of rallies and protests in recent weeks. Many were directed at the Mormon Church, which promoted Proposition 8.

Protestors showed support for the cause in more than 300 cities nationwide, with at least one in each of the 50 states. In addition to Greensboro, rallies were held in Raleigh, Charlotte, Asheville and Boone.

Although Proposition 8 bans same-sex marriage thousands of miles away, local protestors wanted to show their support for the rights of gay couples everywhere.

A lot of people related it back to the Civil Rights Movement, Helms said.

Helms said a diverse group gathered in Greensboro. She added that the protest was particularly meaningful to her as a young person.

For me, it seems like this generation is kind of apathetic, she said. Its important to take action for something we believe in.

In states where gay marriage is not permitted, same-sex couples face issues with child custody laws, matters of inheritance and property ownership, among other things.

North Carolina does not recognize gay marriage under the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Only two states currently allow same-sex marriage: Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Vermont, New Jersey and New Hampshire offer civil unions, while Maine, Washington, Maryland and the District of Columbia allow domestic partnerships, which grant same-sex couples limited benefits.

Helms, who is from the Charlotte area, said most of the people who passed by during Saturdays protest were supportive or at least respectful.

There was a surprising amount of people who honked or waved back, she said. Even the people who didnt werent disrespectful. I was expecting a different reaction.

Helms said she is optimistic about the direction of the state.

I think the [presidential] election results, with North Carolina going for Obama, showed that people in the state are becoming more progressive, she said.

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