Local Marriage Equality Protest Draws Crowd

Dan DiMaggio thought for a moment, slumped on a sofa, with a fast food dinner in front of him. It had been a hectic week for him, ever since he agreed to organize the Minneapolis portion of the JoinTheImpact national protest for marriage equality. His e-mail account had been swamped with responses, as was the Facebook account set up for the protest. I’d just asked him about the groups behind the event.

According to DiMaggio, “Nationally, it’s sponsored by JoinTheImpact. Locally, it was initiated by Socialist Alternative, but we’ve got a number of other groups coming on board.”

When asked why Socialist Alternative took an interest in organizing the local rally, DiMaggio answered, “We’ve just been following this issue. Some of my friends on the West Coast told me that this was going on, and we saw that no one else was talking up. Initially, we thought there’d be just a few dozen people, but now, it looks like it’s going to be bigger.”

That was certainly the case. On November 15, despite the chilly weather, people from across the Twin Cities and outlying areas—of different sexual identities, religious beliefs, and ages—gathered at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis. While estimates of the number of attendees ranged from a low of 600 to a high of 2,000, clearly, more than 12 were there—many more.

Among the speakers were Doug Benson of Marriage Equality Minnesota, State Senator Scott Dibble, State Representative Karen Clark, and Jason Braylin of District 202.

It was also a day for individuals: lesbian mothers with their children, college students with dogs, old leftists, and young radicals—one of the latter being Becky Saltzman, who is involved with several organizations, including PFund and Calliope Women’s Chorus.

Saltzman says, “I hope to show people that this isn’t a gay issue. It’s a civil rights issue. It’s not about California or Florida or Arkansas. It’s about all of us crossing identity, crossing causes. No person should be denied civil rights because of their [sexual] orientation, gender, race, class, or ability.”

Organizers of the November 15 protest both on the national and Minneapolis level are planning more events for the future. The goals are repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and enacting the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) and a national hate crimes bill. Protests are planned for the second Saturday of alternating months (the next is January 10). Also in the works is National Day Without A Gay on December 10 (International Human Rights Day as well), which is focused on people calling in gay to their workplaces, and then spending day donating their time to service organizations.

Full Disclosure: David Cummer was one of many people involved in planning the recent local marriage equality protest.

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