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Gay marriage actions heat up across U.S.

By Amy Muldoon, Lauren Fleer and Amanda Maystead | March 5, 2004 | Page 11

AROUND THE country, supporters of gay and lesbian rights are protesting George W. Bush's February 24 announcement in support of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In New York City, 300 people turned out for a press conference at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. "Bush has declared war on gay Americans," said one Black gay leader. "And this is one war he won't win."

A few days later, hundreds showed up at a strategy meeting to plan pro-gay marriage actions in New York. When a handful of people argued that we needed to support a Democrat and moderate our demands so as not to rock the boat for the candidates, a debate took off.

Several activists, including ISO members and veterans of ACT UP and Queer Nation, argued that waiting never leads to change, as was true in the fight for civil rights for Blacks. The debate continued over whether to protest the Democratic candidate debates at CBS that weekend.

The fact that the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force publicly attacked Kerry days before for his opposition to gay marriage in Massachusetts made it easier to win people to protesting. Sunday morning, some 300 people showed up to challenge the candidates, chanting "Kerry and Edwards take a stand/Equal marriage we demand."

Later that day, 1,500 rallied at a press conference called by Marriage Equality New York at City Hall calling for the immediate issuing of licenses to gay couples. More actions are planned for this week, with a protest at the Municipal Building as well as attempts by same-sex couples to apply for licenses.

In response to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's comment that he'd have "no problem" issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Chicago activists quickly assembled an organizing meeting February 26 to take advantage of the opportunity. About 45 people attended the meeting, dubbed the new group "Equal Marriage Now!" and decided on an action plan to force Daley to keep his word. A press conference is schedule for March 2, where activists will announce plans for a rally at the county marriage license bureau on March 4, in which same-sex couples will apply for marriage licenses.

San Francisco
More than 250 people gathered in defense of gay marriage at Harvey Milk Plaza on February 24 for a rally called by the LGBT Community Center, the ACLU, Equality California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco. A Marriage Equality demonstration is planned for March 11 and a vigil on March 29 at city hall.

At Northeastern University, activists have called for March 8-12 to be Marriage Equality Awareness Week, which will include a button/poster campaign and a party to prepare signs to bring to the statehouse on March 11, the day of the next constitutional convention where lawmakers will debate the future of gay marriage in Massachusetts. In several other cities, gay marriage supporters are organizing any way they can--with public meetings, petition drives, protesting to demand marriage licenses and proposing resolutions at their schools and city councils in favor of gay marriage.

David Thurston and Steve Trussell contributed to this report.

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