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Locals protest for repeal of Amendment 2

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Posted: Monday, November 17, 2008 12:00 am

Huddled under rainbow-colored umbrellas, Amendment 2 protestors met in the drizzling rain Saturday afternoon with a message: equal rights for everyone.

About 150 Gainesville residents rallied for an hour and a half at the corner of East First Street and University Avenue for the repeal of Amendment 2, which defined marriage as the union between one man and one woman and stripped state partner benefits - such as hospital visitation, insurance sharing and Social Security benefits - from unmarried partnerts.

The Gainesville demonstration was part of a nationwide day of equal rights protests organized by JointheImpact.com.

The Web site launched in opposition to legislation passed in Florida, Arizona, Arkansas and California in the Nov. 4 election, including Proposition 8, which overturned a California ruling allowing same-sex marriages.

Over the next 10 months, Join The Impact founders hope to launch at least 10 more nationwide demonstrations, according to the site.

Gainesville residents Daniel and M.J. Roberts coordinated the local event using the Web site and Facebook.

M.J. Roberts, 39, said she relied mainly on word of mouth to advertise the protest. It worked.

At 1:30 p.m., when the protest was scheduled to begin, about 30 people stood along the curb of University Avenue. About 45 minutes later, more than 100 people were lining both sides of the road.

Despite wet weather, protesters stayed until 3 p.m., waving posters that read, "Shame On 2," "Can I Vote On Your Marriage Now?" and "2 is Poo."

Protester Stacie Greco, 31, wore a wedding veil while rallying with her partner, Christine Smith, 35.

Not all attendees were homosexual.

"I think it's a civil rights issue," said Alicia Hamilton, 52. "I don't have to be gay to support it."

Hamilton's sign read, "Straight but I don't hate."

"I'm ashamed to admit it now, but many many many years ago I voted against some of these rights when I was living in Miami," Hamilton said. "Now it's 20-something years later and my mind has been opened."

For others, the protest was personal.

The Rev. Virginia McDaniel, a minister for 15 years, said her lesbian daughter married in California before the state voted to pass Proposition 8.

Now, she worries that her daughter's marriage status will be overturned.

"I think discrimination against people who happen to love people of the same sex is terrible," McDaniel said.

Student protesters from UF also braved the weather to show support. UF botany major Zoe Falcone protested with her girlfriend and a shivering Chihuahua named Widget.

Falcone, who is transgender, said she thinks it's unfair that people are able to decide on her rights.

"Even though we did elect a black president, gays got hit

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