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LGBT rally to be held

The ìOpen the Door to Equality” rally, Woosterís first-ever gay rights event, will take place a week from this Sunday, on Oct. 4 from 4 to 5 p.m. at the gazebo on the square in Downtown Wooster.

Ohioans for Marriage Equality, (OME) is hosting the rally, which is also being sponsored by the College of Wooster Allies & Queers, Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of Wooster and finally, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship for Social Action.

OME is a local equality organization whose primary concern is to promote justice and equality for all individuals. Helen Ostermiller, one of OMEís organizers, describes the groupís goal as ìeducating the public about the discriminatory realities faced by gay and lesbian couples and to promote equal access to the rights and obligations of civil marriage.” OME first attributes their work within the LGBT community to their opposition to the passage of Issue 1 in the Ohio Constitution, which, in 2004, put a prohibition on marriage equality, civil unions and domestic partnerships.

ìWhen one learns that an LGBT family has the same hopes and dreams as your family, it is much harder to deny them civil rights,” Ostermiller says.

To help the Wooster community become more familiar with their LGBT neighbors, OME has previously worked to host different speakers at local events, such as Lynne Bowman, the executive director of the organization Equality Ohio. In addition, they have put together other events to raise awareness, like the ìLove Makes a Family” photo/essay exhibit.

The group had been thinking about hosting a rally for almost two years now, but it wasnít until late last spring that plans were finally set into action. After contacting organizations within the community and different groups at the College, including Delta House and Allies and Queers, volunteers and members of the groups started the process of making this rally a public event. ìTalking to other groups committed to LGBT equality has been key to developing a broader community base of support for the event,” Ostermiller added.

This first-ever rally will feature a speech from the OMEís founder, Bev Caley as well as talks from Mady Noble, an alumna of the College, Reverend Dr. Kevan Franklin and Reverend Dr. Elaine Strawn, among others.

There will be live music and, following the rally, a potluck dinner at Trinity United Church of Christ, where individuals are encouraged to come together and share dinner, music, comedy and fellowship.

Those involved with the meticulous planning for this rally hope to gather at least 40 to 50 individuals from the Wooster community, who, above everything, value fairness and equality for all.

With this rally, Ostermiller hopes to accomplish the task of ìbringing people together ó gay and straight ó who support individuals in their efforts to define their sexual orientation or gender identity.” The primary goal of the rallyís organizers is for individuals in the local community to come together and take a public stand for LGBT equality while spreading awareness for their cause. In† addition they wish to celebrate the progress that has and is continuing to be made with the struggles for gay civil rights.

Ostermiller also says that she hopes the rally will ìstand in support of fairness and understanding, as well as celebrate the recent strides made to ëOpen the Door to Equalityí and to resolve to continue those efforts as we kick off National Coming Out Week.”

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