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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Proposition 8 fight continues for junior

Colin MacDonald was in tears.

Sitting at home in the suburbs of Los Angeles he realized Proposition 8, an amendment to California’s State Constitution recognizing marriage as a union of man and woman, had passed and tears were all he could muster.

Growing up in California, the junior knew the process of obtaining marriage equality was one that would progress slowly. But when the Prop 8 ballot initiative passed – effectively banning same-sex unions, though they had just recently been legalized in the state – it was a huge setback for MacDonald and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, he said.

“I have a right to get married in my home state,” said MacDonald, who identifies himself as gay. “The feeling of powerlessness is heartbreaking.”

But the LGBT community made a large stride Aug. 4, when Judge Vaughn R. Walker struck down Prop 8 on the grounds that it discriminates against gay men and women.

“I’m overjoyed by what this means to the people of California, what it will come about in a national sense, and how it will move up in the courts,” MacDonald said. “It respects exactly what we as American citizens are supposed to strive for.”

In response to the ruling, MacDonald and a D.C.-based group he works with, Full Equality Now! D.C., organized The Big Commit – a rally held Aug. 15 in D.C. where he and other activists vowed to continue to fight for their beliefs on marriage.

Despite the judge’s decision, activists like MacDonald continue to organize against Prop 8. A stay put on Walker’s ruling by the 9th District Court of Appeals in California means that until December, couples can’t marry because of an appeal of the decision from Prop 8 supporters.

Before Prop 8, MacDonald explained, he had always been someone who was politically aware but not politically active. The day Prop 8 passed, everything changed.

“I realized marriage equality was not going to magically happen but it was something I would have to fight for,” he said.

MacDonald said he believes that marriage is a right every American citizen is granted under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th amendment.

“Marriage is basically the opportunity to establish a union in which you get to live your life. It recognizes everyone regardless of what marriage’s roots may be,” MacDonald said.

Though The Big Commit experienced a brief setback when a permit to protest was rejected for the West Lawn of the Capitol – the original location for the rally – a permit was granted for Freedom Plaza, near the D.C. City Council headquarters.

MacDonald, who helped work logistics and outreach when FENDC was the host committee for the National Equality March last October, said he was pleased with the venue.

It brings a “more local meaning rather than the national focus the Capitol brings,” he said.

Approximately 300 to 400 activists, community members and faith leaders assembled in support of full federal equality for marriage during the afternoon rally. The Big Commit also served as a response to The National Organization for Marriage, which ended its month-long, nationwide Summer for Marriage Tour 2010 in the District.

MacDonald said the rally had a good overall turnout, even with rainy and overcast weather conditions. He said the purpose behind the event was “to make a statement of pro-equality about the city.”

“It was a very positive event,” MacDonald said after the rally.

MacDonald’s plan now is to prepare for the fall semester. He said he will continue to work with FENDC, especially with outreach on GW’s campus, at other universities and throughout the city.

“We haven’t yet had the opportunity to plan anything new but major issues still remain,” MacDonald said. “Homophobia is still a major issue that is not going to end anytime soon. We don’t have anything specific planned but definitely more is to come.”

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