Richmonders celebrate SCOTUS marriage decision at the Byrd Theatre
Hundreds gathered at Carytown’s Byrd Theatre tonight to celebrate the Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriages nationwide. They joined hundreds of events around the country as part of the national #DayofDecision.
The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of same-sex marriage today, in a 5 – 4 ruling. It held the 14th amendment requires states to recognize same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
Tonight’s event at the Byrd had been tentatively scheduled for the SCOTUS decision.
While the event was a celebration, Bill Harrison, President of Diversity Richmond, made sure the folks in attendence knew where this fight started.
“This victory did not happen because of work that started two-three years ago, it started a long time ago. A time when it was not safe to come out. And we had people who came before us, many who lost their jobs, their families, their communities, and some of them even lost their lives,” said Harrison to the assembled crowd. “So tonight we remember them. And tonight we celebrate.”
The event was organzied by many groups, but the Richmond Business Alliance took on the role as one of the lead faces and their President, Bary Hausarath, played emcee for the short program.
“Today love, equality and inclusion won,” said Hausarath. “We come here to come together in celebration with LGBT people from across the country with full legal recognition of our love and our families.”
He then introduced Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, Executive Director of the Virginia ACLU, who helped lead the legal battle against the same-sex marriage ban in Virginia back which was overturned back in October, 2014.
“Freedom to marry is in Virginia’s DNA,” said Gastañaga, linking today’s decision to Virginia vs. Loving, which made interracial marriage legal 52 years ago. “Little did I know, I’d be standing here in front of you where we get to celebrate marriage equality with all of America.”
She also pointed out Lawrence V. Texas, the Windsor/DOMA Case, and now today’s ruling all fell on June 26th. She suggested we declare it National LGBTQ Equality Day in their honor.
But Gastañaga was also quick to remind folks about what was left to fight for.
“We have achieved something remarkable, and we have to be realistic about the many more remarkable things we need to achieve.” She listed the other rights LGBTQ Virginians still lack – protections at work, in housing, and from discrimination in everyday stores and services.
“They need to be truly equal in the eyes of the law,” she said. “And we will celebrate the true equality of all Virginians, in this place, or a bigger place, soon.”
Reverends Carolyn Mobley from MCC and Lacette Cross of You Will Be Whole Ministries then lead the group in a series of vows to support LGBTQ and other social issues.
Among those in attendance was Guy Kinman, an openly gay former-Chaplin in the military, and LGBTQ activist since he left his wife in 1972. He was among some of Richmond’s earliest and most outspoken LGBTQ community members.
“I think that all this hoopla about sexual orientation is a taboo,” said Kinman with a smile across his face. “People have been unwilling to recognize we are all quite the same. This matter of basic attraction, heterosexuals have there’s we have ours, and each one is equally viable.”
Had you asked Kinman about legal same-sex marriage a few years ago, he’s not sure he would have imagined it happening in his lifetime, but he has a message for those who still want to fight.
“I hope they keep their eyes open,” he said. “When they see announcements for how joyous people are after 40, 50, 60 years of not being able to marry. Ask themselves if they think they’ve been faking it for 50-60 years? No they haven’t. It’s part of their nature… they’re a miracle, and they are an example for straight people.”
Todd Schall-Vess, manger at Byrd Theatre, said he was proud to host the event at his beloved venue.
“The Byrd has always been a part of things that are important to the community of Richmond, and part of its on going history is absolutely what is history in the making,” he said. ”And hopefully we’ll remember this day was the day the Supreme Court acknowledge what we’ve all known all along.”
We need to stay in tune with what the community needs from us…I don’t want someone to hesitate on giving us constructive criticism.”February 1, 2017
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