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Students protest gay marriage ban
The Michigan Daily
By Elizabeth Belts, Daily Staff Reporter
November 12, 2004

The 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.

Local 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 dziadosz/Daily)

“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 the circle.

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,” she said.

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? Now.”
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 do.”
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.

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