By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
RUN WITH 1318/artwork/process/Liszewski mom, Kolb, group
LANSING – On the chilly Wednesday morning of April 27, a small but determined group of straight and gay citizens demonstrated outside the Michigan Capitol for equal marriage rights for LGBT citizens.
The event was the premier of the newly-formed group Students Achieving Marriage Equality, an organization created by students at Lansing Community College that recently changed its name from Students for Gay Marriage.
Rep. Chris Kolb (D) from Ann Arbor, the Rev. Dr. Charles Booker-Hirsh of the Northside Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, and Jon Hoadley of the Michigan State Alliance, MSU’s LGBT support organization, spoke at the event. Roughly twenty people attended.
“I’m not here to defend LGBTs through Scripture,” said Booker-Hirsh, who is straight, “they don’t need it.”
Booker-Hirsh issued a call to action to people of faith to work for marriage equality. “If we value family values, let’s value all families,” he said.
Kolb talked about the fears that he and his partner of eight years face given the absence of laws to protect their relationship, and Hoadley, a Junior at Michigan State, said, “Our generation is going to be the generation to achieve marriage equality.”
While the organization’s initial event was a small one, the nascent student group has big goals.
At the demonstration, SAME President Chad House said that, in the past two months, the Lansing chapter has grown from eight to twenty-five members.
And, according to House, the group has national goals. House said that his group is currently working with LGBT organizations at Michigan’s other universities and has had contact with the Green Party of Michigan, Don’tAmend.com in San Francisco, and Harvard University’s LGBT student organization. One eventual plan of the group is to hold rallies in every state that has passed an anti-family marriage amendment.
And, according to Nicole Loszewski, the vice president of the group, they have their sights set on a demonstration in Washington, D.C. in 2006.
“We’ll see how this goes, and then we’ll slowly progress up to that point,” she said.
House said this will not be their last trip to the state Capitol. “We’re going to come back, and come back, and come back, until we fill this place.”
“We’re a small dot on the map now, but we’re going to grow,” he added.
The group’s most immediate goals are to become a recognized Lansing Community College student group and to introduce themselves and become integrated into the wider LGBT activist community. The group changed its name from Students for Gay Marriage because some in the LGBT community have taken issue with the term “gay marriage,” according to House.
Perhaps the most promising aspect of the Lansing demonstration was the number of straight people who attended.
Darla Dooker-Jackson, a married straight woman, summed up the beliefs of the straight people present. “I am here because I believe that people of the same sex should legally have the same rights as the rest of us to do everything involved with marriage,” she said. “It just makes sense to make it legal.”