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Equality group inspires push for same-sex marriage at Pyramid Scheme

This year, ten states have passed laws legalizing same-sex marriage, and a local equality group is pushing to make Michigan one of the next to consider it on the November 2014 ballot.

Marriage Michigan PAC, co-founded by Grand Valley State University graduate student Chris Surfus, was looking for volunteers and supporters of their marriage-rights during the Feb. 16 fundraising event, “Marry the Night: A Benefit for Marriage Equality.”

Held at the Pyramid Scheme in downtown Grand Rapids, the event was one of the first fundraisers to benefit Marriage Michigan, while gaining support for their cause.
“We had 313 people come out, we signed up about 30 or 40 volunteers and we did very well,” Surfus said.

Daylylah Desmond, a local performer crowned Miss Rumors Professional and Miss Michigan FFI, hosted the evening, which featured a 2-hour drag show, live music from local bands, a date auction and several speeches by Marriage Michigan members.

Desmond is known throughout the Grand Rapids gay community and loves performing, which she’s been doing since 2002.

“When I have those lights on me, and I have that big hair and the fancy jewelry and costumes and stuff on me, it’s just like, I’m there to put a smile on your face, I’m there to take your worries away,” Desmond said. “I just love it, and that’s probably why I do it to this day…it’s nice being known for being who you are.”

Desmond said the movement for marriage equality’s strength in West Michigan was visible Saturday night.

“I think it gave people the wake-up call that it’s like… we’re all here, why?” Desmond said. “Because we want to love, and we want to be loved. It’s just ridiculous to me that we don’t have equal rights. I do see it happening for Michigan. I do.”

Colette Sequin Beighley, director of the LGBT Resource Center at GVSU, said the center tries to coordinate with equality groups both state and nationwide to bring to light the rights that many members of the LGBT community don’t have.

“By making these imperative protections a reality, we can protect the jobs and living arrangements of tens of thousands of LGBT people in our state,” Beighley said. “This type of progress would impact the lives of many more people and must be the priority.”

The first step before legalizing gay marriage is to educate Michiganders about the lack of rights, Beighley said, and to “amend Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, expression.”

Marriage Michigan is hosting its next event at the Reconciliation Metropolitan Community Church in Grand Rapids with mayor George Heartwell as a guest speaker. The Marriage Equality Coalition Meeting will focus on where equality groups across the state are now, and where they want to be in the near future.

For more information on the move toward marriage equality, or to get involved with Marriage Michigan, contact the LGBT Resource Center at lgbtcenter@gvsu.edu or go to www.marriagemi.org.
moberski@lanthorn.com



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