Thousands attend GLBT Lobby Day

Nearly 7,000 people rallied at the Capitol to support same-sex marriage.

Rowena Vergara

Whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or straight, thousands of Minnesotans rallied Thursday at the State Capitol to support same-sex marriages.

The rally was the main event of the annual GLBT Lobby Day and was sponsored by the nonprofit organization Outfront Minnesota. Nearly 7,000 people attended, the largest turnout yet for the event, organizers said.

In past years, the lobby day focused on GLBT rights overall. But this year, the focus was on a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Key speakers at the rally included Beth Zemsky, a University GLBT studies professor and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force co-chairwoman, and Ann Marie DeGroot, a University alumna and Outfront Minnesota executive director.

B David Galt, the University’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Programs Office director, said the speeches followed a common theme: “The reinforcement that we’re in very challenging times.”

Some University students in attendance said they came to support same-sex marriage, while others, such as sociology sophomore Sean Doe-Simkins, came to work.

Doe-Simkins, an Outfront Minnesota intern, spent the day speaking with legislators and encouraging attendees to sign petitions.

“I need to work for my equal rights,” he said. “This is something I deserve, but the rest of the world doesn’t see that, so I just have to convince them that it is.”

Ezekiel Montgomery, an English sophomore who is gay, came to fight for social justice, he said.

“While one day I’d like to get married, it’s about much more than marriage,” he said.

“It’s about an entire system working to oppress not just gays, but people of color, women and other minorities.”

And although Doe-Simkins said the issue facing the GLBT community is “terrifying,” the spirit and energy of the thousands in attendance gave him hope.

Throughout the sea of supporters, several waved rainbow flags, wore rainbow colors and held posters.

One woman held a sign high that said, “GOD=LOVE and GOP=HATE.” Another poster said, “Do not legislate hate.”

In the colors of the rainbow, another poster read, “All you need is love to raise a family.”

Karin Baty, a kinesiology sophomore and the University’s Housing and Residential Life GLBT Allies Network vice president, said she came to the rally to show support for those who are fighting the amendment.

“This is really inspiring, and it’s great to see so many people out,” she said.

Jen Coleson, an English sophomore and network member, also came to support the issue.

“This is a really important cause to me personally Ö people shouldn’t have to be defined by labels, and you don’t have to be gay or lesbian to support it,” she said.