Gay Advocates Protest Marriage Amendment; Hundreds Gather in Support of Equal Rights for Same-Sex Couples

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL PINKHAM

Corinna Rambo lost a cousin and brother-in-law to AIDS.

So when her teenage daughter's best friend called her Lake Butler home Friday, asking for a ride to Jacksonville to protest Florida's recently passed marriage amendment, Rambo didn't hesitate.

They joined more than 200 protesters who marched around Hemming Plaza on a drizzly Saturday afternoon as part of a national protest against same-sex marriage bans approved Election Day in Florida, California and Arizona.

The peaceful protest included signs with slogans such as "We Wouldn't Vote on Your Marriage" and "Separation of Church and Hate." Many of the signs were left at the entrance to City Hall when it was over.

"We are trying to reach out to people so that they will realize we are people just like they are," said Shane Denmark of Merge Jacksonville, a gay and lesbian support group. "We just want our equal rights. That's what today was about."

Florida Amendment 2, creating a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and women, was passed by 62 percent of the voters. Florida is one of 30 states with some sort of same-sex marriage ban.

Molli Motti of Jacksonville said she wasn't surprised the ban passed in Florida, but the California vote caught a lot of people off guard.

"It shouldn't even really be an issue," Motti said. "You're not supposed to mix church and state."

Nationally, most of the attention has focused on California, where the ban essentially trumps prior court rulings that approved same-sex marriages. Protests there have been heated, many directed at churches.

Jacksonville's was sedate by comparison, despite the presence of a gospel ministry in Hemming Plaza during the same time Saturday. …