Arizona Youth Make Great Strides toward Marriage Equality

LocalEquality Walkers” span 97 miles to build awareness around same-sex marriage

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: August 9, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: Meg Sneed, Right to Marry: Arizona, 623-262-6696
Carlos Perez de Alejo, Soulforce Media Director, 321-948-3423
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(Phoenix, AZ) Beneath a sweltering summer morning sun in Scottsdale, Arizona, six young adults from Right to Marry: Arizona embarked on a week-long 97 mile walk from the Bible Church in Scottsdale to the state capital in Phoenix, seeking to engage religious leaders, city and state officials, and everyday citizens on the thorny subject of same-sex marriage.  Carrying rainbow umbrellas to ward off the sun’s rays, the Equality Walkers will walk a mile for every year Arizona has failed to provide equal protection for its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens.

This year marks the second annual Right to Marry walk in Arizona, a campaign developed by Meg Sneed of Soulforce Q, the youth-driven arm of Soulforce, a national LGBT social justice organization.  “The walk is long, but it’s all worth it,” says Sneed.  “It’s time for youth to weigh in on the importance of civil rights and social justice for everyone.  Part of that process requires tough conversations, and that’s why we’re out here talking to as many different people as we can.”

Sneed crafted the idea for Right to Marry after participating in an inspiring three-day walk for breast cancer research.  As a cancer survivor herself, Sneed found long-distance walking both challenging and empowering.

“Walking 97 miles in August may seem crazy, and yes maybe it is a little crazy, but it is also crazy for the state of Arizona to deny people the right to marry the person they love for the last 96 years,” says Sneed.

While last years Right to Marry walk centered around Proposition 102, Arizona’s “defense of marriage” legislation which passed last November, this year the Equality Walkers will take their pilgrimage to those communities which had the highest number of votes in favor of marriage inequality.  Sneed and her fellow travelers will make periodic stops on their journey to lead discussions at churches, city halls, and parks across the Valley.

“We’re prepared to add a mile every year until all the people of Arizona have the right to marry,” says Luis Garcia, a longtime resident of the Phoenix community and a fellow Equality Walker.

The walkers will follow this route:

Day 1: Sunday, August 9th: Scottsdale Bible Church to All Saints Catholic Newman Center   

Day 2: Monday, August 10th: All Saints Catholic Newman Center to Parish of the Diocese of Phoenix Saint Mary’s                                                                                                                   

Day 3: Tuesday, August 11th: Parish of the Diocese of Phoenix Saint Mary’s to Dayspring United Methodist Church                                                                                                                         

Day 4: Wednesday, August 12th: Dayspring United Methodist Church to Cesar Chavez Park  

Day 5: Thursday, August 13th: Cesar Chavez Park to  Glendale City Hall                                 

Day 6: Friday, August 14th: Glendale City Hall to Catholic Bishop                                            

Day 7: Saturday, August 15th: Catholic Bishop to Phoenix City Hall 

Soulforce Q is the young adult division of Soulforce, a social justice organization that works to end political and religious oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information, visit www.soulforce.org/righttomarry                                                                                                   ###