About 200 activists gathered at Library Mall Saturday at noon before marching to the Capitol stairs for a series of speeches promoting gay equality, universal health care and withdrawal from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The gay rights march is over. Now what?
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater students discuss gay rights, public perception and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” after the LGBT rights march Saturday afternoon.
Amid shouts of “Hey Obama, let momma marry momma,” a crowd of more than 200 community members marched to the Capitol Saturday to fight for equal rights in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
According to Char Hanson, march organizer and member of the Madison College Pride Alliance and OutReach, the march was a continuation of the one that took place in Washington, D.C., in October.
The main issues the organizers advocated for were overturning bans on same-sex marriage and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in the United States Armed Forces, in addition to equal protection of civil rights and anti-discrimination rights for members of the LGBT community.
As the marchers progressed up State Street, many bystanders on the sidewalks displayed their support of the group with smiles, shouts and thumbs up.
On the steps immediately in front of the Capitol, Hanson was one of the main speakers, emphasizing the necessity for equal rights from the government to the LGBT community.
“Today I am issuing a challenge to our federal and our state governments to pass the laws in a non-arguable writing, to give us the equal rights that we have been fighting for,” Hanson said.
She also stressed the importance of presenting a unified front and of not giving up the battle for rights every person is guaranteed.
“We as a unified community must never stop until we have the equal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that every citizen of the United States of America is promised,” Hanson said.
Hanson said those involved with the event want to keep the issues in the public eye and gain the attention of lawmakers, both in Wisconsin and at the federal level.
In addition, Hanson said the inequalities as deny members of the LGBT community basic human rights.
“The last time I checked, it’s not about skin color anymore,” Hanson said. “It’s about who we love, what we like, the way we express our own gender. … That is what is holding us back from being treated as human beings.”
Many of those in attendance agreed with Hanson, including University of Wisconsin freshman Brittany Simler. She said members of the LGBT community deserve equal rights because they cannot change who they are — it is part of their identity.
“I feel like [being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender] is something that people don’t choose … it’s who they are, so they should be protected,” Simler said.
Many groups were involved in the march including the International Socialist Organization, the UW chapter of LGBTI Equality Now!, Madison Area Transgender Association and groups from UW-Whitewater, among others.
Benjamin Daniels, a UW senior and member of ISO, said the march was important because it is essential that every individual have their rights ensured.
“Civil rights shouldn’t come for a vote,” Daniels said. “[They] should be guaranteed and protected on a federal level.”