Gay Rights Activists Look to Shake Things Up

From staff writer George Joseph:

Yesterday evening, about 150 LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) activists and allies flocked to the east side of the historic Denton County Courthouse, bearing flags and signs, to celebrate Wednesday’s pair of Supreme Court decisions that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8. Several leaders from gay rights advocacy groups, churches, and the Democratic Party spoke out on the courthouse steps, making it clear that this celebration was only the beginning, especially for Denton.

Here’s some video of the event from Bj Lewis:

Dana Sims, cofounder of Keep Denton Queer, spoke of a national vision, “The next struggle is to spread marriage equality to all 50 states.” Sims recalled her group’s visit to the state capitol, where they met with several notable lawmakers, including Sen. Craig Estes, Sen. Wendy Davis, who asked to take a photo with them, and Rep. Lon Burnam, who took them into his office to show off his pride flag.

Several of the speakers also set their sights on political victories in Denton itself. Kat Ralph, the other cofounder of Keep Denton Queer, mentioned their campaign to create safe spaces for LGBTQ citizens in the city by asking businesses to put up stickers on their storefronts supporting gay rights.

Similarly, Tyler Carlton, a county Democratic leader, called on city council once again to adopt a resolution, similar to one passed by Austin, declaring the city’s support for marriage equality. Though the first such proposed resolution did not make it to a vote, Carlton said Denton Mayor Mark Burroughs “was impressed” and others on the council may be more inclined to support as the LGBTQ community starts to mobilize.

Despite these ambitious plans, many participants felt the biggest victory was the rally itself, which went off without a hitch.

“It was very surprising for me to hear they were going to have this. I felt proud to see my past student up there, fighting up there for what she believed in,” said Heidi Rowell, a Denton middle school teacher. “I felt proud to be in Denton at that moment. I really did.”

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