News and reports
May 14, 2004 | Pages 10 and 11
Gay marriage is a civil right
SUPPORTERS OF gay marriage rights held lively meetings last week to build awareness of the upcoming legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts. In San Francisco, New Paltz, N.Y. Mayor Jason West, who performed gay weddings before being forced to stop by officials was among the speakers of a meeting of 65 people. Kathryn Lybarger, recently married in San Francisco, said of her experience, "It's like coming up from under water to take a breath of air for the first time.
Mayor West spoke of having married people who had waited 30 years to put on their wedding rings. The breadth of the showing of support was summed up by Green Party candidate for governor, Peter Camejo, who said, "This issue belongs to everyone, so let's work together," and identified this struggle as a "turning point in history."
In New York, about 70 people came to a town hall meeting May 6 on gay marriage held at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. A member of the U.S. Congress and several city councilmembers spoke in favor of gay marriage and condemned George W. Bush's drive for a constitutional ban. The meeting was organized by the Empire State Pride Agenda, the leading statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lobbying group, and by local Latino activists.
It was conceived in part as a direct response to a recent 5,000-strong antigay rally in the Bronx. Unfortunately, the event seemed more focused on turning out the vote for Democrats in November, than on building an ongoing movement.
NEW HAVEN, Conn.--Last week on the campus of Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), the student leader of the Black Student Union was attacked twice by anti-gay bigots. Leading up to this incident, several other students had been harassed by members of Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC).
Members of CCC have felt confident enough in recent weeks to publish articles in our school newspaper entitled "Homosexuals are Mutants," and "Women are Subservient to Men," creating an actively sexist and homophobic environment and lending confidence to the gay-bashers. Incredibly, CCC has received $500 from SCSU's Student Government Association for being the "Most Active Club on Campus."
An emergency rally is being organized by leaders from the NAACP and others for May 13 to show our outrage at this incident of violence and give confidence to people to stand up to the bigots. We will send a message to the bashers, the CCC, and our administration that these attacks will not be tolerated.
Our campus will not be a safe haven for gay-bashers, and we won't put up with this harassment. We will stand up to the bigots and let them know that their harassment and violence are not welcome on our campus.
IOWA CITY, Iowa.--Raging homophobe Fred Phelps is coming to Iowa to picket two high school graduation ceremonies this month. Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church have become infamous among gay rights activists for protesting at Matthew Shepard's funeral.
Shepard was killed in a brutal gay bashing outside Laramie, Wyo., in 1998. Phelps will be protesting two Iowa recipients of the Matthew Shepard Scholarship, awarded to openly lesbian or gay high school seniors who are involved in the struggle for gay rights in their schools.
Besides picketing the May 29 graduation ceremony, Phelps is planning to bring his bigot brigade to picket outside City High School Tuesday May 18. And he will picket the May 22nd graduation ceremony of Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, where another gay teen won a Matthew Shepard Scholarship.
Sixteen-year-old Ilse Bendorf of City High is the 26th Iowa senior to win the scholarship. Ilse, a member of GLOW (Gay, Lesbian, Or Whatever), told Socialist Worker that since news of the Phelps announcement became public, "support has been overwhelming. So many people are eager to do something."
"Phelps has such an extreme point of view," Ilse said, "that it's rallying support in my school. My family and I want any response to be a strong but peaceful statement that our community does not tolerate any kind of hate." We need hundreds of Iowans to turn out and show Phelps his bigotry is not welcome here.
SAN FRANCISCO--At San Francisco State University, a meeting May 6 to organize against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's attack on education drew a crowd of 75 furious students--from dance to holistic health majors--whose futures are being threatened by budget cuts. Various departments and clubs, including the social work department, Students against War, the Campaign to End the Death Penalty and the California Faculty Association, gathered to focus frustration and anger into an organized movement with one strong point of unity: "No cuts to education,"
While the majority of students recognized the part Schwarzenegger plays in deciding what little money will be given to our schools, there was a nearly unanimous vote to stay on campus and target the "Governator" while simultaneously challenging President Robert Corrigan, who ultimately decides how the money will be spent.
Students plan to walk out of class May 12 for a strike and rally on the campus quad in protest. But this is just the first step in confronting the cuts. We need a series of strong rallies, sit-ins and strikes that make it impossible for Corrigan and Schwarzenegger to ignore our demands.