The Day We All Stood Out for Equality
Although the recent passing of Proposition 8 banned gay marriages in California, more than 1,500 Nevadans rallied against the amendment on November 15 at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada.
The Center hosted the Stand OUT for Equality rally on short notice. It was part of a nationwide protest against the passing of Proposition 8. The Center described it as a "pro-equality event."
Comedian/actress Wanda Sykes surprised everyone when she took the podium. She spoke shortly before the crowd marched to the Sahara Ave. sidewalk at the entrance to Commercial Center. She said she doesn't talk about her orientation openly because she feels she shouldn't have to. Sykes married her girlfriend on Oct. 25.
"It was a personal attack. Our community was attacked," Sykes said about the passing of Proposition 8. "I'm proud to be a woman. I'm proud to be a black woman and I'm proud to be gay," Sykes said before leaving the stage. An array of signs and rainbow flags snaked through the parking lot. Cars started honking immediately as the group approached the sidewalk. Signs read, "separate is not equal," "honk for equal rights," and "I have a dream too."
Glen Chapman came to the rally to support equality. "I've been out since I was 14," he said, "I went to my fi rst rally in Sacramento in 1979." Chapman has lived in Las Vegas for nearly 15 years. He said he has seen the community come together over the years. "It's time. You can't stop the truth," he said.
Many prominent community members and guests took the stage to speak. Josh and Dan Smithman were married in West Hollywood on June 17, 2008, the day gay marriage became legal in California. They held an enlarged copy of their newly dissolved marriage license as they addressed the crowd. "Now that we've had a taste of equality, there's no going back," Dan said.
Progressive North West Church was represented by Dr. Charlotte Morgan. According to their Web site, lvucc.org, the church does not discriminate anyone based on "gender, race, sexual orientation, sexual identity, marital circumstance, ethnic origin, age, theological perspective, physical or mental challenges."
Morgan read an encouraging letter from Pastor David Krueger-Duncan of the Northwest Community Church. "Our task is to ask for fair treatment," she said.
Mpowerment Project member Kyle Jerro reminded the crowd that this movement is about advancing all civil rights. The UNLV student told the crowd they must be cautious in pursuing equality. "We cannot see it as us versus them," he said. "We are part of this country and we deserve the same rights as everyone else."
Mpowerment is a social group for young gay and bi-sexual men. The group promotes a drug-free lifestyle and educates members about safe sex regularly.
Dressed in a T-shirt and rainbow fl ag as a skirt, Angela Harvey took the stage like a rock star. The crowd immediately applauded. "You all look good," she said.
Harvey elicited audience participation during her speech. She stressed the importance of viewing gay marriage as an equal right, not a special right. She also told audience members they should be open about their orientations, "We must recognize who we are. Wear it and wear it proud," she said.
As for the future, The Center's executive director, Candice Nichols, encouraged people to leave their contact information for future events. "Today is just the start," she said. To stay informed about the Stand OUT for Equality campaign and other programs and services of The Center, visit www.thecenterlv.com or call (702) 733-9800.
WHO HELPED SPREAD THE H8TE?
According to public records, the following Nevadans supported the passing of Proposition 8 in California with their contributions between $100 and $15,000: