Bil Browning

Bloomington group to hold sit-in for equality

Filed By Bil Browning | June 22, 2009 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics

Wow. I'm torn on this one. Gay Recruiters, a Bloomington-based gay rights group, is planning a protest on July 2nd. The group says the sit-in is being held to condemn a possible constitutional ban on same-sex marriage or civil unions.

Gay Recruiters is a Bloomington based advocacy group for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. It is planning an event that it's calling a Marriage Counter Sit-In for Equality on July 2 in the Monroe County Justice Building. A rally is to occur simultaneously outside the justice building.

Group founder Lillie Aydt says the goal of the demonstration is to prevent legislation similar to California's Proposition 8 outlawing same sex marriage.

My history with direct action protests and my belief in grassroots actions leads me to cheer these folks on. Queer visibility is a powerful tool in our arsenal.

My political side, however, automatically zeroes in on the fact that the group's protest is being held at a time when there won't be an amendment to consider. While an amendment was recently introduced in the legislature's special session, it'll never see the light of day while lawmakers argue about their main priority - passing a state budget. Plus, holding a sit-in at the Justice Building can easily get morphed into, "Queers want same-sex marriage rights" by the media instead of "Queers protest a possible amendment to ban same-sex marriage." One is offensive, while the other is defensive.

Any opinions on the sit-in? Helpful, harmful or just plain harmless?

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thegayrecruiters | June 23, 2009 2:36 PM

Hi Bil, this is Lillie Aydt, founder of Gay Recruiters!

I'd like to mention a few things about our upcoming action that didn't make it into the AP article.

We started planning this event about a month ago when we found out that no other TLGB groups in Bloomington had anything planned to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. We couldn't think of a better way to honor the heroes of that historic event than through direct action advocacy. We felt that the sit-in/rally was in keeping with the zeitgeist of the Stonewall era: Partying AFTER Protesting!

We decided that the focus of our action should be marriage equality, in solidarity with our sister and brother activists in California. The decision by their Supreme Court to uphold the right of mob rule to determine the civil rights of a minority, while setting the Orwellian precedent that some gays (the 18,000 couples) are more equal than others is still very raw for the Gay Recruiters.

We thought that a marriage related direct action had the added benefit of us not having to "reinvent the wheel" in the short time frame that we had to plan this event. Many wonderful groups around the country have been doing marriage counter sit-ins recently, and we have been particularly inspired and most generously mentored by Denver Soulforce. Although our action will be slightly different than theirs, we also plan to cause shame and inconvenience for the system that shames and inconveniences us on a daily basis.

We simply couldn't ignore Indiana Equality's action alert from June 14th that warned of Reps Turner and Cheatham's attempt to "resurrect Indiana’s Marriage Discrimination Amendment during the Special Session of the Indiana General Assembly." This was the piece of the press release we issued that the AP thought was most salient and decided to report on.

The overall message of the action, and part of our group's mission, is that (as you say) "Queers want same sex marriage rights"...

And why shouldn't we be offensive rather than defensive? We have not come far enough since 1969: Not one TLGB affirming law has been passed at the federal level. This is simply unacceptable to the Gay Recruiters. We, like Cleve Jones, have a sole demand: "We seek nothing less than equal protection under the law, in all matters governed by civil law, in all 50 states."

This action is only the beginning...we will tirelessly hold similar actions all over the Midwest until our demand is met.

Please check out our Gay Recruiters group page for more info about us, the event, and future events. Also, should be up and running by the end of the week!

thegayrecruiters | June 23, 2009 2:55 PM

I meant to say check our Gay Recruiters group page on Facebook :)