March through Boystown, Wrigleyville calls for marriage equality
by Gary Barlow on Jun 13, 2011 Gay Chicago - LINK
GLN permalink 6-13-2011
CHICAGO - Cool, misty weather didn't deter about 80 activists from staging a rally in Boystown and march through Wrigleyville late June 11 to demand repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and full marriage equality for LGBTs.
"We just got civil unions in this state but we're still not equal. We don't have marriage equality," said Andrea Crain, of Join The Impact Chicago, one of the groups that organized the action.
Along with Join The Impact, the Gay Liberation Network, LGBT Change and Bisexual Queer Alliance Chicago sponsored the rally and march, which kicked off shortly after 8 p.m. at the corner of Halsted and Roscoe on a cool Saturday evening.
"While civil unions is absolutely welcome and awesome, it's definitely far from over," said Anthony Martinez, of LGBT Change and The Civil Rights Agenda. "Civil unions are not equal. "We need to get to the point where we are full citizens of this state, and that is full marriage equality."
Brent Holman-Gomez, of GLN, talked about how DOMA impacts couples who are binational, as he and his partner are. The federal law, passed in 1996, prohibits the federal government from recognizing the marriages or civil unions of gays and lesbians, allows states to ignore marriage licenses lawfully issued in other states to gays and lesbians and means that foreign nationals who become spouses of gays and lesbians here aren't automatically eligible for resident status in the U.S.
Holman-Gomez said the U.S. attempted to deport his partner, but he and his partner fought that effort and won in court, a rare victory in such cases.
"Through lots of prayer, through friends, through hope, we actually were able to win this case," Holman-Gomez said. "But that's one in a thousand. "We need to end DOMA now."
Zachary Fraum, a student from New Trier High School, acknowledged that he lives in a more progressive environment than many young LGBTs in the U.S. But, said Fraum, DOMA sends a strong negative message to him and other young LGBTs.
"Essentially, DOMA tells me who to love or, more specifically, whether my love is sanctioned by the U.S. government," Fraum said.
Lauren Fleer, of Join The Impact, said despite civil unions becoming legal in Illinois June 1, she and her partner of nine years traveled last week to Iowa to wed, one of five states where gay, lesbian and bisexual couples have full marriage equality. Fleer said the difference between marriage and civil unions is important.
"Civil unions gets us part of the way there," she said. "We have to face it - that we're still discriminated against. "We're specifically singled out and denied rights."
Ryne Poulker said LGBTs shouldn't be satisfied with waiting any longer for repeal of DOMA and full equality.
"Patience brought us Don't Ask Don't Tell," Poelker said. "Patience brought us DOMA. Patience is denying you employment protections. Patience is denying you housing protections. Patience is denying you the 1,138 rights of marriage. Enough with patience."
Matty Zaradich urged people who took part in the rally and march to press their friends to also demand full equality.
"You're doing your part at this rally, and that's good," Zaradich said. "But now you're going to go talk to your friends and tell them they're not doing enough."
After the rally, the crowd marched down Halsted to Belmont, then turned to go to Clark Street and march up the Wrigleyville bar strip to Addison, then back to Halsted. Escorted by Chicago police, the marchers chanted loudly, waved numerous rainbow flags and carried signs as they marched through the area.
BQSA's Michael Oboza noted that it was transgenders who sparked the Stonewall Riots in 1969 that birthed the modern movement for equality for all LGBTs in the U.S.
"Bisexual Queer Alliance Chicago needs to sponsor this tonight because it's about equality," Oboza said. "Since it affects one of us, it affects all of us."