DETROIT – Raymond Shepherd was in awe of the crowd that gathered with him on the steps of the Federal Courthouse Tuesday for the Light the Way to Justice Rally he organized in support of marriage equality. Nearly 60 people attended despite chilly temperatures. They held signs and cheered as passing motorists honked and waved. Rev. Jim Lynch of Metropolitan Community Church in Ferndale led a prayer for the group in hopes that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in favor of equality as they deliberate on two cases before them.
Among the demonstrators, was a group of students who came from Windsor University. “I have friends that are legally married in Windsor and we want that same equality for everyone,” said Jackie Hardie, who carried a sign that read, “Accept existence or expect resistance.”
Jerry and Artemae Anderson of Detroit joined in as a show of solidarity for their children. They have a gay son and a lesbian daughter, both of whom are now living out of state with their respective partners.
“We follow these cases, like the one in California, and to me, it’s just so obvious. I think of the things we’ve seen, the signs, all the cliches. They’re done,” Jerry said.
“They’re talking about marriage for procreation. What about people who are 55 or 60? Should they just get divorced now because they are done having children? Or infertile couples? Or those who decide not to have children? But they keep putting it out there,” he added.
The Anderson’s children were both in college when they told their parents about being gay.
“I felt bad they waited until college. I wish they would have told us sooner so we could have been more supportive. They are our children and we support them no matter what. A lot of young people don’t have supportive parents or a supportive structure.”
The couple joined the Human Rights Campaign and now participate in demonstrations to show that there are allies out there. They even offer a support system through the Catholic Church that they attend.”The Vatican and the higher ups may not approve, but there are supportive Catholics out there.”
Roberta Kary came from St. Helen to take part in the demonstration along with her friend Lisa Garcia of Southgate. For Garcia the issue is simple, “We shouldn’t have to ask for our rights. They’re our rights.”
Kary, an accountant, spoke about the many benefits that married couples have, including not having an estate tax, being able to file joint tax returns, and having clear inheritance rights. “Even if you are married in a state that recognizes it, family members can still contest your decisions because the marriage is not recognized under DOMA,” she said.
The demonstration was one of many taking place around the country, including a number of Michigan events. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the two cases before them before the end of June.