When the temperature reaches 110 degrees in Arizona, even the lizards stay in the shade, but not those hearty souls from Right to Marry Arizona. They are walking a mile for each of the 98 years that Arizona has been a state without marriage equality for all its citizens.
The route this year (Equality Walkers' Route) started in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and ends with the final miles this Saturday from Cesar Chavez Plaza at 201 W. Washington in downtown Phoenix to the State Capitol, where there will be a rally and speeches from those who walked. Temperatures that day will hover around 108 degrees so wear your cap and some sunscreen. Unlike the last two years, when they walked the Greater Phoenix area, for most of their trip this year they will be in Arizona's high country, which is much cooler.
They've been sharing stories with churches, town councils, mayors, business owners, and everyday people in Lake Havasu, Kingman, Prescott, Jerome, Sedona, Flagstaff, Winslow, Holbrook, Eager, St. Johns, Springerville, Globe and Payson. For all of those in Arizona who are reading this, come out on Saturday and walk the last miles with them. We must stand up proudly and declare that we will not be treated as second-class citizens - not in the US - and not in AZ. It is also your chance to celebrate the Walkers and their 98 mile pilgrimage for your equality.
The co-director of this walk, Meg Sneed, explains in her own words:
Today (last Thursday, August 7th) we began the 3rd Annual Right to Marry: Arizona Campaign. We gathered at Dolce Espresso with joy in our hearts and a sense of renewed hope after the ruling on Wednesday that Prop 8 is unconstitutional!
As we hit the road to our first destination, Lake Havasu City, we take the energy and love from this decision with us on the road.
For the next week we will walk 98 miles across Northern Arizona seeking earnest discussion and cordial fellowship. The 98 miles is a representation of the number of years that Arizona has been a state without full equality for all citizens.
Our goal is to carefully and collectively examine the intersection wherein scripture and social norms meet gender and human sexuality. And more practically, we hope to share and gain insights about how related policies and doctrines impact the lives of everyone in a community. These conversations are undeniably essential in creating a safe environment for all citizens of Arizona.
Over the next week our feet will hit the pavement and we will be speaking with police officers, city managers, faith communities, elected officials and people in diverse districts.
During the 98 mile pilgrimage we will carry rainbow umbrellas, consume gallons of water, and get blisters on every part of our feet.
We will push our bodies, minds and spirits, but our hearts and faith in change will carry us through, and we will be able to change hearts and minds along the way.
As we begin this journey I know that we will not see the immediate impact of our conversations, but that like a stone in a pond we will cause a ripple effect of love and acceptance.