Despite inclement weather, several Miami University students joined an estimated 500 people protesting California’s Proposition 8 Saturday in front of City Hall in Cincinnati.
Proposition 8, which was voted into effect Nov. 4, bans same-sex marriage in California.
Lia Hazel, a first-year at Miami’s Hamilton campus who helped organize Miami students going to the event, said she knew of at least 20 to 30 students that attended the protest, with even more she didn’t know.
Hazel set up rides, posted flyers and made announcements to get Miami students to attend. She said leaders from Spectrum, Miami’s queer-straight alliance, were also at work getting the word out about the protest.
According to Hazel, there were people at the event from Kentucky, Indiana and different parts of Ohio. Church organizations, high school gay-straight alliances and several universities were also represented.
Hazel said there was a significance in people’s willingness to stand in bad weather for hours.
“I’m sure several people were just freezing, but it was for the cause and I think that really says something,” she said.
Barry Floore, a 2004 Miami alumnus who spoke at the event, said the protest was meant to re-energize the movement for same-sex marriage rights.
“The goal of the protest was to stand up as a country and as a community and say that we are tired of losing,” Floore said.
Floore said his job as a speaker was to pump up the crowd, with several other speakers discussing the prejudice against same-sex marriage and the necessity for equality for same-sex couples.
“We had Margaret Cho, who spoke about the awfulness that is Proposition 8 and the fact that we had rights for a moment and they were taken away from so many Californians,” Floore said.
Floore said he was very impressed with the turnout, especially considering the weather.
“If you’re gauging it on a level of energy and excitement, it hit it out of the park,” Floore said.
He added that it was unbelievable to have many people show up to the event and get involved in the movement, especially because many have never been involved before.
“I think bringing a lot of college students in, a lot of people who have never been involved in any sort of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) activism really does show the amount of energy that’s out there that as yet we haven’t really used effectively,” Floore said. “I think this is the first step to creating a stronger, more vibrant movement towards equality and towards equal marriage.”
David Miller, vice president for public policy for Citizens for Community Values, said it’s important to recognize the First Amendment right to protest, even though it has been disconcerting to see the unrest and violence in some cities. However, this unrest is probably the exception and not the rule.
“In America, we tend to accept the results of fair elections and I think that’s been a hallmark of our democracy,” Miller said.
Miller said he is glad people have the right to protest, but does not approve of individuals trying to change the definition of marriage.
“A small group of people who suddenly don’t like one of the requirements of marriage shouldn’t have the right to commit a demand that all of society recognize their desire to change it,” Miller said.