Apr 142005
Authors: Nicole Barrett

An informational session about the rights and laws of gay marriage was held Wednesday night as a part of T'BGLAD – Transgender, Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Awareness Days.

The group of students and community members in attendance at the Lory Student Center discussed the rights of gay couples in the United States, focusing on Colorado.

Abby Coven, executive director of Denver-based Civil Rights Now, spoke about the issue of freedom to marry, acknowledging the struggles the gay and lesbian community face regarding government recognition and benefits.

"It's always going to be a struggle," Coven said.

Part of the struggle is the different policies states carry on not only gay marriages but also civil and domestic unions, Coven said. She feels a gay couple marrying entitles the partners to all state and federal benefits that heterosexual couples receive.

Colorado legislators and community members are working together to get the government to recognize gay unions and marriages.

However, there is some opposition to this attempt. Rep. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, has proposed an amendment that defines marriage in the Colorado Constitution as between one man and one woman.

"The key point is to really get your arms around it by defining marriage," Lundberg said.

The gay community plans to fight this amendment by doing neighborhood walks in which members go door-to-door to gain support from registered voters, Coven said. Volunteers will present information in favor of gay marriage, hoping to get voters to vote against legislation that prohibits it.

"We have to fight this amendment with all that we have," Coven said.

Students who went to the program hoped to learn more about gay marriage rights, including the history, legislation and politics.

"It's always good to be checking up on where things stand," said Matthew Nielsen, atmospheric science graduate student.

Part of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Students Services' mission is to provide an outlet for students to discuss homosexual issues. Wednesday's session was one of these outlets.

In addition, throughout the semester students sit on the GLBTSS couches and discuss relationships, classes, professors, food and many other topics.

Gay marriage is one of the topics students feel strongly about.

"I'm a student just like anyone else," said Ann Szynskie, a sophomore construction management major who participates in GLBT programs.

Other people do not agree with Szynskie on the issue, however.

"As a believer of Jesus Christ I hold to what the Bible lays down as normative, meaning that the gay lifestyle is not normal," said Brent Cunningham, a pastor at Timberline Church, 2809 S. Timberline Road.

Other people are fighting for the gay community's right to marriage as well.

"Gay marriage should be allowed. The state should not have a decision on who somebody loves," said former CSU Young Democrats President Ashleigh McBeth, a senior political science major.

The gay community in Colorado has an advantage over the states that have already passed constitutional amendments prohibiting gay marriage – time.

"We have time to respond and develop a strategy," Coven said.

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