On Saturday, a crowd gathered on the lawn outside Youngstown State University’s Kilcawley Center, waving flags and listening to speakers to show their support for gay marriage. YSUnity, along with the Office of Student Life and the Office of Housing and Residence Life, helped sponsor the rally.
Ten same-sex couples attended a marriage ceremony during Saturday’s event. While gay marriage has not been legalized in the state of Ohio, YSUnity President Lisa Ronquillo said the celebration served as a celebration of diversity.
“I feel that it is a good way to express further diversity among the YSU campus, as well as the city of Youngstown itself,” she said. “It is a good opportunity to bring people together from other cities and communities to show support for equal rights among all citizens.”
Tim Bortner, vice president of YSUnity and graphic design major, said Saturday’s event served not only as a wedding but also as an educational experience.
“We have 12 or more speakers on issues of suicide, gay marriage, HIV awareness, bullying, the Boy Scouts and more,” Bortner said. “I personally hope we will be able to educate people and create awareness for the campus as well as for the city.”
YSU President Cynthia Anderson was one of the speakers at Saturday’s rally. She said that love should not play a role in politics.
“Today is about acceptance, and it is about love. Love should not be a political platform, and acceptance should not be a political platform,” Anderson said. “Unfortunately, that is what they have become.”
Bortner said YSUnity collaborated with Support Marriage Equality in Ohio, a Facebook group dedicated to marriage equality that’s tallied more than 300,000 likes, for the event.
“The group approached us in December of 2012 about bringing this event to YSU,” Bortner said. “Since then, … [we’ve] been working to make this a successful event.”