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School Without Walls students rally for marriage equality

Robin Tyler, Gloria Allred and Diane Olson stand in front of the Supreme Court Monday. Tyler and Olson were the first married gay couple in Los Angeles County, and Allred was their legal representative in a successful 2004 lawsuit that challenged the denial of their marriage license. Becky Crowder | Senior Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Colleen Murphy.

Students from the School Without Walls, a public high school on campus, organized a candlelight vigil across from the Supreme Court Monday, joining the national conversation surrounding two cases on marriage slated for this week.

The School Without Walls’ Gay-Straight Alliance rallied other public schools in D.C. to wear red and bring electric candles to the two-hour vigil – part of the national Light the Way for Justice campaign, which encourages youths to participate in efforts for marriage equality.

“Even though I can’t get married now because I am too young and have a lot to think about, I want to know that if some day I find the woman of my dreams, I will be allowed to marry her,” Anna Tsai, president of the School Without Walls group, said.

The nation’s highest court will hear oral arguments on Tuesday on the legality of California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage with a 2008 referendum. Justices will vet the Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law in 1996, the next day.

“These cases are our future and we’re showing that we care,” School Without Walls student Laura Horvath, 16, said.

Gloria Allred, a civil rights lawyer, led the students in singing “We Shall Overcome” and urged them to “never give up” on the fight for marriage equality. She was the first lawyer to file a lawsuit that claimed the denial of a homosexual couple’s marriage license was unconstitutional in California in 2004.

The state’s supreme court ruled in Allred’s favor, and her clients became the first couple in Los Angeles county to marry. Proposition 8 passed soon after, and she advocated the state to uphold the 14,000 marriages of couples who had been previously permitted to marry, according to the “friend of the court” brief she filed to the Supreme Court.

School Without Walls student Max Mellott, 15, joined his school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, one of 12 in the D.C. Public Schools system, when he learned his father was gay. He said the group’s membership has swelled this past year.

“Our student body is pretty accepting, but it’s made people more aware of things that they may not realize are offensive,” he said about the organization, which emphasizes education and support.

The Gay-Straight Alliance organizes campaigns throughout the year to raise awareness of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender issues.


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