Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tucson Joins the Impact and Protests By Mark R. Kerr

TUCSON (Observer Update) - More than 1,000 people of all ages, sexual orientations and genders, perceived or otherwise gathered at El Presidio Park Friday (November 14) to protest the passage of Proposition 102, the Arizona ban on Gay and Lesbian marriage, as well as the approval of California’s Proposition 8 and Florida’s Amendment 2, that also barred the recognition of civil unions, domestic partnerships and the subsequent creation by governmental entities in the state of Florida.

Pima County was the only county to vote down Proposition 102, by a margin of more than three percent, stated Jason Cianciotto, executive director of Wingspan, in an interview with Tucson’s afternoon daily newspaper. "I am proud that the majority of voters here came together and took a stand in support of all Arizona families," he added.

Leaders and members of the LGBT community marched a third of a mile with friends and family, from El Presidio Park, to La Placita Village. Marchers chanted "Gay, straight, black, white, we all deserve equal rights."

Many in the crowd had signs expressing their opinion on Arizona’s vote as well as their familial situation, including “I love my two dads,” “Do I get to vote,” and “Do I get to vote on your marriage too?”

When marchers arrived at La Placita Village, they were welcomed by people assembled and the song “Gloria” by Laura Branigan was playing in the background.

Cianciotto organized the event, which became part of Join the Impact, where protests were held across the country against the three ballot measures. Friday’s event also launched Wingspan's new online campaign, Families You Know.

"We are not going to hide who we are any more. We are not going to hide the faces of our families for the sake of political expediency," Cianciotto said.

Jim Burroway, a writer, editor and proprietor of the blog, Box Turtle Bulletin served as co-chair for the No on Proposition 102 campaign, told the crowd that “nobody can advance anything unless we are visible.”

Chris Lopez, the organizer of the Join the Impact rally, a married woman with three kids told the crowd to remember what Martin Luther King had said in his letter from a Birmingham, Alabama jail, that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

The Rev. William White of Water of Life MCC, closed the program with an inspirational speech, adding there is “no separate battle in the battle for equality so there is no turning back!”

The Families You Know campaign (online at profiles families in which one or more members is LGBT or a straight ally, through a series of videos streamed on a Web site. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness and "begin conversations" in Arizona on the subject of same-sex couples, Cianciotto said in an interview. "We know that families come in many forms, and all are defined by an unbreakable bond of love, trust, respect, and concern for each other's well-being.”

A few of those short videos were projected on a wall at La Placita Village during the march's closing ceremony, one of which featured Tucson Vice Mayor Karin Uhlich, her partner Shannon Cain and their family.

(Pictures of the protest will be available in the print edition of the Observer as well as online.)

No comments: