Rainbow-colored streamers and balloons brightened up the picnic shelter where the Columbia/Mid-Missouri Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Coalition held PrideFest 2004 Saturday in Cosmo Park.
Local entertainers and prominent voices in the LGBT community spoke between musical sets, keeping the microphone active throughout the event which ran from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Some entertainers used their time at the microphone to address the issue of the same-sex marriage ban amendment being placed on the August primary ballot in Missouri.
Last Thursday, the Missouri Supreme Court instructed Republican Secretary of State Matt Blunt to place the issue on the August ballot. Blunt and Republican lawmakers have said they prefer the issue on the November general election ballot because more people would be likely to vote on the issue than during the August primaries.
Many at the festival supported the August ballot placement of the issue, citing it as an advantage in the political process. Democrats feared having the issue on the November ballot would have boosted the conservative turnout, tipping the scales on a close presidential race.
One of the entertainers, DJ Lanza, said he sees the motivation behind the battle to put the gay marriage ban on the November ballot as an underhanded move by the Republican party.
“It’s an obvious tactical ploy to get Bush into office in November,” Lanza said. “It’s cheap politics. That’s not what America’s all about.”
Others expressed disapproval that the amendment needs to be on a ballot at all.
“The gay marriage ban is very bigoted and discriminating against fellow American citizens,” said Linda Tremaine, who worked at a booth for Lara Underwood, a candidate for Missouri’s 25th District House seat.
Susan Wilson, who spoke between performances, talked about how little change she has seen in the way the government views gays and lesbians in family roles.
“At Ronald Reagan’s funeral, Bush spoke about how Reagan stood for all people to be equal and free,” Wilson said. “What are we? Are we not people?”
But Saturday’s event was about more than just politics. It brought together hundreds from the LGBT community and allies to celebrate and to raise awareness of issues effecting the LGBT community. Resource booths were set up around the festivities to provide information on LGBT community activities and events. The Boone County Health Department also set up a booth for on-site HIV testing. The festivities included music from seven bands and musicians and games such as sand volleyball.