Gays lobby for right to wed

A few legislators join the opponents of the proposed ban on same-sex marriage.
Thursday, March 4, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:29 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — More than 200 gay-rights activists crowded the Capitol on Wednesday to speak out against legislation affecting the gay community.

Activists in record numbers sounded off against a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution limiting marriage to a man and a woman. The proposed amendment passed the Senate last week.

“This is not legislation about making same-sex marriage legal, it’s about writing discrimination into our state Constitution,” said Julie Brueggemann, development director for PROMO, a privacy rights organization in Missouri.

PROMO, the group that organized the event, advocates the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The activists received support during a rally in the Capitol Rotunda from some Democratic legislators who opposed the measure.

Sen. Joan Bray, D-University City, criticized Republican lawmakers who supported the amendment to defend the “sanctity of marriage.”

“The sanctity of marriage — what does that mean?” Bray asked. “To me sanctity of marriage means a commitment to love, honor, respect monogamy.”

Bray said opponents of same-sex marriage have no problem with marriages that end in divorce as long as the relationship is between a man and a woman.

Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, disagrees.

“I don’t think we’re discriminating now,” Engler said. “The fact that we want to keep marriage the same way it has been for century after century after century, as the focal point of the family, is not discriminating.”

Engler is the primary sponsor of a proposed amendment in the House that would also limit marriage to a man and a woman.

Other concerns were raised about a House bill that would prevent public institutions receiving state funds from adopting an anti-discrimination policy that exceeds current federal protections.

The bill would put institutions who add sexual orientation to their anti-discrimination policy in jeopardy of losing state funds.

The crowd Wednesday was the largest PROMO ever had and the event went as well as could be expected, Wunrow said.

“We knew who wasn’t inclined to support us in the first place,” Wunrow said. “But we also knew how important it was for them to get the opportunity to meet gay and lesbian folks from their district as they’re making their decisions.”

Meagan Young, an MU sophomore, said she was disheartened by the reception she got from state legislators. Young said she came to express the feelings of the people she knows and loves.

“They’re not listening and it’s very sad for us,” Young said. “My love is not verified.”

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