Equality is focus of march

Kelly Petryszyn

LGBT lack rights to marry, join military

This weekend, thousands of people will partake in the National Equality March in Washington D.C., to address the issue of inequality in the United States.

The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees all groups of people equal protection under the law, but the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population cannot marry in the majority of states or openly serve in the military.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the march. Programs start today and run through Sunday. The march is Sunday at noon, the same day as National Coming Out Day.

Equality Across America is an organization that came together to sponsor the march this year. This group consists of a network of 435 Congressional District Action Teams, one for every congressional district in the country. According to the organization’s Web site, the goal of this widespread activism is to have teams work in their community to achieve equality in all 50 states.

Some Kent State students are traveling to Washington D.C., to march.

Darren Stevenson, sophomore nursing major and PRIDE!Kent member, is one of the students going. He is taking a bus to Washington Saturday night and heading back Sunday night.

“I just want be part of change,” he said. “The more people making this statement, the more powerful it is.”

He added that this event is about showing the government LGBT people are not happy about how they are treated, and they don’t want to be ignored anymore. LGBT people are “not second class citizens,” he said.

Other activists agree that the lack of rights is wrong.

“I think that laws that treat LGBT people differently are biased, unfair and unjust,” said Ben Carlson, a member of the media team for National Equality March. “The justifications given for them are flimsy and inaccurate.” Carlson added that as a result people suffer. Whether it is losing a job because of sexual orientation or being denied housing or the opportunity to serve in the armed forces. When it comes to correcting this problem, the youth play an instrumental role.

Carlson said polls show young people support equal rights.

With this in mind, “we need to do everything we can to bring in young people,” he said.

Carlson participated in the march in 1993 and said it was very successful. However, LGBT people are still denied fundamental rights.

Richard Aviles, a student at St. Olaf College, is going to the march and will deliver a speech. He believes that equality is possible. As the days become closer to the march, Aviles said he is starting to feel empowered.

“Being very optimistic,” he said. “As long as you have optimism and a smile and are confident this will happen, it will take you one step closer to it.”

Contact diversity reporter Kelly Petryszyn at [email protected].