Hundreds of supporters and members of the Fort Collins’ Gay, Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender community are expected to converge Saturday afternoon on Old Town to celebrate relationships and to recognize unequal rights.
The 10th Annual Freedom to Marry Day Rally will take place from 12:30 to 3 p.m. in Old Town Square, followed by a reception at Avogadro’s Number off of Mason and Myrtle Streets.
“(The rally) is meant as a celebration and recognition of the variety of relationships,” said Foula Dimopoulos, director of GLBT Student Services, who added that the event’s purpose is also to recognize the unequal rights same-sex couples face.
The rally, which is a team effort between the Center for Justice Peace and Environment, the Lambda Community Center and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, will include speeches and a performance by the GLBT allied Community Choir.
The keynote speaker Rob Short from Equal Rights Colorado will address Colorado legislation passing through the House and Senate that has the potential to affect civil marriage rights.
Event organizer Andy Stoll, interim executing director for the Lambda Community Center, predicts the rally will draw a crowd of 150 to 200 people.
Saturday’s event caps Freedom to Marry Week — an effort to raise support for equal marriage rights for people of all sexual orientations. The week also serves to increase the awareness of the discrimination the GLBT community faces, Stoll said.
Freedom to Marry Week founder Evan Wolfson said the week is an opportunity to “reach out to others and engage in conversation, helping them connect the dots to who gay people are and why marriage matters.”
“(It’s) not about arguing with the opposition,” Wolfson said, “(but) talking to the reachable, but not yet reached, middle.”
“Conversation is the key to changing hearts and minds,” he added.
Wolfson said this year’s effort for universal marriage rights has been fueled with a new energy because of Proposition 8, which made same-sex marriage illegal in California last year.
English major and Lambda Center Treasurer Jim Rath, who will be giving a speech at the rally with his committed partner, said they will describe their experience in losing their marriage rights.
“The right to marry carries a lot of weight in itself,” Rath said, explaining that married couples enjoy over 11,000 benefits.
“We have to jump through a lot more hoops than straight couples do,” Rath said.
Rath, however, said he is optimistic for the future and that he believes the Supreme Court will soon overturn Proposition 8.
“I think they’ll come around,” Rath said. “We will continue making progress.”
Wolfson agreed, saying, “(There’s) a lot of victories in reach.”
Staff writer Natasha Pepperl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.