Right to Marry 2009 Arizona Equality Walkers




Meg Sneed, 26, Co-Director


This summer we will cover 97 miles on foot, the number of years that Arizona has been a state without equal protections under the law for all citizens. Walking 97 miles may seem like a crazy feet, but the purpose is to bold, it is meant to be challenging. Walking 97 miles is nothing compared to a gay or lesbian person being told they can’t see their partner in their dying moments at a hospital because they don’t have full marriage rights.

"When I do finally make that leap of faith with an amazing girl, I want it to be in Arizona. This is where I grew up; it is where I had my first kiss, my first job, and where my parents cried when they watched me embark on my first day of kindergarten. I am a Phoenician, I have fried an egg on the sidewalk, I have suffered many ice blocking injuries, and one day I will get married with the hot Arizona sun looking down on me. On that day I want to see my home state recognize and honor my commitment."

Meg was a 2008 and 2009 nominee for the Echo Readers Choice Awards Distinguished Service by a Woman. In 2009, Meg was selected as a Semi-Finalist for the United States Jaycees "Ten Outstanding Young Americans", as one of the top 20 young leaders in the United States.

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Melissa Halverson, 29, Co-Director


This summer’s 97 mile trek through Metropolitan Phoenix is both a symbol of love and solidarity. Love, for our Valley families, who are not equally protected, and whose children are in political and cultural jeopardy.  The steps taken under the Arizona sun will be in solidarity and celebration of these families and their involvement in equal rights.  This August I will stand up for the more than two hundred TBGL youth I see every Thursday at 1n10, and the 30,000 of you that came to Phoenix Pride. 

Walking is necessary because I am equally responsible for the decisions that my State makes regarding my family. Although the battle for a narrowed discriminatory view of marriage won this last fall in our State, it is with great faith that the conversations we have this August will be impactful.  My hope for Arizona, for the 200 youth I see weekly, and for the tens of thousands of TBGL families and their children, is vested in my whole hearted belief that people want these marriage values to change.

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Jimmy Gruender, 35, Equality Walker


Jimmy has been with his lifetime partner for 16 years. He grew up living between Austin Texas, and Columbia Missouri, he moved to the Valley of the Sun in 2003. Soon after moving to Phoenix, Jimmy started to volunteer for different non-profits agencies in the Phoenix area. In January of 2004 he joined the board of directors of Phoenix Pride till 2009. In 2008 Jimmy joined the steering committee of H.E.R.O’s, a local grassroots activism group.

In 2009 Jimmy was nominated and won the prestigious Echo readers Choice Award, “Heroic Service for a Man”, and the John Bircumshaw Community Sprit Award from Phoenix Pride. When not volunteering, or doing activist work, Jimmy helps run a local night club in Central Phoenix.

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Tracy Loafman, 28, Equality Walker


With the designation of “Straight Ally,” I was thrilled to encounter a positive term defining my role in the lives of my LGBT friends.  It is my honor to unite with them, my responsibility to fight for them, and my dream to see them receive the rights I receive simply because I love a man, rather than another woman.  On the brink of committing my life to one man, it has only become more evident to me the injustice of rejecting a person who wants to do the same, based entirely and exclusively on their sexual orientation.   

Particularly after the devastating blow to my friends with Prop 102, I am excited to be a part of the second Right to Marry event.  I walk to peacefully protest inequality, to support the LGBT community, and to encourage open minds so that one day we will witness a change so big that half the state of Arizona votes in favor of it.  Finally, in my work with teenagers, I walk as an example of the value we can make as individuals when we are willing to go these lengths to positively impact the lives of others. 

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Luis Garcia, 30, Equality Walker


Luis Garcia is a longtime resident of the Phoenix community. He joined the military (USAF) after graduating from high school. Currently, Luis is a member of the Crystal Meth Task Force, American Legion, Phoenix 2010 Census Complete Count Committee, Encanto Village Planning Committee, Latino HIV/AIDS Day of Awareness and is a founding member of Human and Equal Rights Organizers.

As a community organizer Luis has worked to create all inclusive coalitions to secure equal rights in local communities. Luis is the recipient of the 2009 Equality Arizona Central Activist Award. Luis is walking to ensure that everyone is treated equally under state and federal law.

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Hillary Pinney, 26, Equality Walker


Working on her first political campaign at the age of nine, Hillary has volunteered and lead campaigns and demonstrations for progressive issues in her community and at Arizona State University. While at Arizona State, she worked with many student organizations including, Women Beyond Borders, Voices for Planned Parenthood, the LGBTQ student coalition and served as the Director for the Women’s Coalition, a university funded organization, which seeks to improve the status of women at ASU and in the community.

In 2006, Hillary was honored with the Commission on the Status of Women Award, for Outstanding Achievement and Contribution to the Status of Women at Arizona State.

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To reach any of the Arizona Equality Walkers, please, email q@soulforce.org

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