Vigil for equal rights

Reverend Jim Shirbroun, campus minister of the Wesley Foundation, lights candles for the Silent Vigil for LGBT Rights held on Wednesday. Photo: Manfred Strait/Iowa State Daily

Reverend Jim Shirbroun, campus minister of the Wesley Foundation, lights candles for the Silent Vigil for LGBT Rights held on Wednesday. Photo: Manfred Strait/Iowa State Daily

Members of AAS attended a candlelight vigil to protest Proposition 8 organized by Chris Hockley of the Wesley Foundation on November 12.

The subject of same sex marriage can ultimately be boiled down to a separation of church and state issue, because arguments against same sex marriage are based on religious beliefs. Any laws to the contrary violate the first amendment.

However, the vigil, and the discussions that AAS members had about same sex marriage, are about more than legal distinctions.  We feel compelled to speak out against those who refuse to learn from the past, those who aim to legalize bigotry and discriminiation.

Lighting hope against 8

Seventy people protest passage of Proposition 8, similar legislation in 3 states

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 10:47 PM CST

Seventy people lit up Lake LaVerne in a silent protest of Proposition 8.

The Silent Vigil for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights was held at Lake LaVerne on Wednesday, and was organized by the Wesley Foundation/United Methodist Student Center, a Christian organization that reaches out to students at Iowa State.

Chris Hockley, campus minister and associate director of the Wesley Foundation, said he planned the vigil in response to the events of Nov. 4 — not the presidential election, but the passing of legislation that will restrict the rights of the LGBT community in four states.

“Watching that night of elections, I was heartsick by what I saw happen,” Hockley said.

Constitutional amendments banning gay marriage were passed in California, Florida and Arizona on Nov. 4, while Arkansas made it unconstitutional for gay couples to adopt.

Hockley said he believes every person has sacred worth, and as a Christian he wants to follow Jesus’ example of standing up for the oppressed.

“The Jesus I understand is a Jesus who doesn’t stand for injustice,” Hockley said. “So I feel it’s my duty as a Christian to stand against this injustice.”

Before the vigil, Hockley said there were only 25 confirmed guests, but by 5:45 p.m. approximately 70 people crowded along the north side of Lake LaVerne, holding candles. Some stood in solitude and silence, while others talked quietly with those standing nearby.

The attendees varied in age, religious affiliation and sexual orientation, but all shared the common goal of standing up for equal rights for the LGBT community.

“It’s important that everyone has rights due to them, despite their religion or sexual orientation,” said Kimberly Ferguson, senior in aerospace engineering and member of the Wesley Foundation.

Members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Ally Alliance stopped by the vigil before their weekly meeting, where members responded to California’s passing of Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage.

“For me, it’s not about protecting the family, it’s about protecting equal opportunity for everyone,” said Callen Ubeda, junior in political science and treasurer for LGBTAA. “I don’t want to get married, but I want my friends to get married.”

There were also members of the Atheist and Agnostic Society at the vigil, including Anastasia Bodnar, graduate student in agronomy and president of the organization.

Bodnar said she is registered to vote in Florida, and voted against the amendment to ban gay marriage in the state, although some 60 percent of her fellow Florida voters disagreed with her. Bodnar said she was surprised that people in California and Florida, states usually seen as liberal, were so opposed to gay marriage.

“What’s important about this event, it’s showing that people in Iowa, a state that’s normally been labeled as conservative, we understand that this is a civil rights issue,” Bodnar said.

Hockley said he was stunned by the number of people who showed up.

“I’m in awe,” he said. “I’m excited about all the people who came out to show that justice still has a place in this world.”

Copyright © 2009 – Iowa State Daily

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