sidewalks in downtown Ann Arbor were crowded yesterday,
taken over by protesters from Ann Arbor high schools and
the University. About 150 students carried signs, banners
and rainbow flags in opposition to the passage of Proposal
2 in the Nov. 2 election.
high school senior Tina Baldwin holds up a sign
reading "Equality" at a protest of the
passage of Proposal 2 on the corner of Liberty and
Fifth streets. The rally started on the Diag and
headed to City Hall yesterday afternoon. (alexander
“This will be looked upon by our children how we
look upon racism in the 60’s,” LSA freshman
Drew Philp said.
The passage of Proposal 2 amended Michigan’s constitution
to ban gay marriage and similar unions. Those in opposition
to the measure say it is an infringement on an individual’s
civil rights. Those who support it believe it protects
marriage, which they believe should only be between a
man and woman.
The march through downtown began as a small rally on the
Diag, organized by 15-year-old Julia Upfal, a part-time
student at Huron and Community high schools. Upfal said
she felt let down by the results of the election. “By
not letting some people have rights they deserve …
it’s one of the things that is tearing this country
apart” Upfal said.
Upfal described her friends’ sadness after Proposal
2 was passed during the election, and expressed frustration
that they were unable to vote. Other high school students
also perceived the protest as a way to voice their own
beliefs. “I know so many people who are against
(Proposal 2) who are in high school, and we’re trying
to do what we can to get the word out,” Upfal said.
As the crowd on the Diag grew, protesters formed a circle
around the “M” in its center. Amidst cries
of “equality” and waving signs reading “What
is moral about hate? What is moral about discrimination?”
students spontaneously addressed the crowd by entering
Brittany Allen, LSA senior and co-chair of the LGBT commission
of the Michigan Student Assembly, was one of the first
to speak to the crowd.
“Last week after Proposal 2 passed, I was scared
and sad and angry at the world. Today I see graduates,
undergraduates and high school students — this can
change,” she said.
Allen was contacted by a friend about the rally, and passed
the word through the LGBT campus networks. “I’m
surprised at the turnout. It’s phenomenal and inspiring,”
One student incited the crowd to march to City Hall, and
100 students left the Diag, marching down State and Liberty
streets to City Hall on Fifth and Huron streets.
The protest line stretched two blocks, and people shouted,
“What do we want? Equality. When do we want it?
At City Hall, closed due to Veterans Day, three students
climbed onto the roof and led the crowd in chanting “down
with 2” and “separate church and state.”
Protesters continued the march down Main Street, where
police cars blocked intersection traffic to allow protesters
to pass. The rally came to a close on the steps of the
Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library.
One student yelled out to the crowd, “This rally
was organized by a 15-year-old girl, imagine what we can
Near the close of the rally, Upfal read from a paper copy
of Proposal 2, then ripped it up and threw the pieces
into the air.
“It’s amazing,” said Ben Henig, sophomore
at Community High School. Henig, a close friend of Upfal,
displayed posters throughout the high schools and sent
instant messages to spread the word about the rally. “I
was hoping it would turn out this way. It can, when straight,
gay and bi come together,” he said.