Feb 222009
Authors: Natasha Pepperl

Donning a large multi-colored scarf that her gay son made for her, Julie Wilson choked up with emotion on the stage as she described how one of his relationships failed because he doesn’t have the same rights as his straight brother.

Wilson, the president of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, spoke to the Old Town crowd of 300, who gathered in Old Town Square Saturday for the 10th Annual Freedom to Marry Day Rally, on behalf of herself and her husband.

“Our hopes and our dreams for both sons are the same,” she said. “We want the government to offer them the same rights, opportunities and responsibilities.”

Such was the same hope and dream of the crowd.

Many supporters held colorful signs that screamed “Marriage is about love, not gender” and “Value all families.” The crowd itself was brightly colored — pink and purple hair, tie-dyed shirts, and colorful scarves were scattered throughout.

The crowd was diverse, yet united. Young and old, heterosexual and homosexual were unified in their goal of allowing everyone to marry.

“It’s about an absolute, basic, fundamental human right,” Wilson said of the right to marry. She said she feels an urgency to change society so her gay son can have a positive life experience.

Julia Johns, a junior political science and communications studies major who spoke after Wilson, told the crowd about how her former girlfriend died after a man raped her with the intention of making her straight.

“He left her bloody, broken and bruised,” she said of her lover’s assailant.

“I don’t think people know that the hate they preach is killing people, whether it’s suicide or murder,” she said.

Johns said love knows no gender.

“GLBT people are people; there is no difference,” she said.

She has had to deal with opposition from people who have openly expressed their disagreement with her sexual lifestyle.

“I’ve had my tires slashed. I’ve had hateful messages written on my car,” Johns said. She was also harassed at a job and left after nothing was done to stop it.

“I fight every single day in her honor,” Johns said of her former girlfriend.

Fellow CSU student Will Ostendorf shared how important the right to marry is for him as a gay man.

“(Marriage) is something I may never get to experience,” he told the crowd.

“It is now time to allow love in this country,” he said. “Let my children have the knowledge that their parents are committed in love and in marriage.”

During the march to Avogadro’s Number that followed the rally, the crowd chanted “What do we want? Marriage rights! When do we want it? Now!”

Brightly colored flags led the procession. Same-sex couples were openly affectionate during the march — holding hands, kissing and interlocking arms. Their signs voicing their pro-civil marriage rights for all were held high.

Passing cars honked their horns to show their support for the procession.

UNC Freshman Jordyn Gorte, who attended the rally because she has many gay friends and family said, “Love is love, just because (you) don’t agree doesn’t mean you should take away someone’s right to marry someone else.”

Staff writer Natasha Pepperl can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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