Arizona Youth Lead Rally at State Capitol after 97 Mile Walk Across Phoenix

Equality Walkers” and community allies call for marriage equality

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: August 15, 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) After a week-long, 97 mile walk across metropolitan Phoenix, Meg Sneed and five other young adults from Right to Marry: Arizona concluded their pilgrimage at the State Capitol Building–meeting with elected officials and leading a spirited rally in support of marriage equality.  Throughout the week of August 9-15th, the group brought the discussion of same-sex marriage to religious leaders, public officials, and a wide variety of citizens across Phoenix.

Despite an unwelcoming summer heat, averaging over 100 degrees, the Equality Walkers found a receptive audience.  “Conversations with groups on porches, or with those sitting on benches with their coolers will stay with me,” says Melissa Halverson, co-director of Right to Marry: Arizona.  “Cars stopped on their way to work to ask, ‘what ARE you all,’ as we carried our rainbow umbrellas, and gave an encouraging ‘good luck and good work!’”

The rally at the State Capitol marked the end of the second annual Right to Marry walk in Phoenix.  The idea for the campaign emerged from Sneed’s participation in a three-day walk for breast cancer research.  As a cancer survivor herself, Sneed found the walk inspiring and decided to adapt it to the controversial debate over marriage equality in Arizona, walking a mile for every year the state has denied equal rights to its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens.

“We walked for all those couples who are denied the right to love,” says Sneed.  “We walked for all those LGBT people who dream of the day that they will fall in love and the day that they will want to commit their lives to someone else.”

From Phoenix City Hall to the Arizona State Capitol, community allies walked the final mile with the Equality Walkers, closing the journey with a loud cry for marriage equality.  “We’ll be back every year until all the citizens of Arizona enjoy equal rights,” stated Sneed.  “We’ve waited over nine decades.  It’s time for us to stand up and say enough is enough!”

Sneed and her fellow Equality Walkers are members of Soulforce Q, the youth-driven arm of Soulforce, a national LGBT social justice organization.

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, visitwww.soulforce.org/righttomarry    

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Young Adults Reach Halfway Point in 97 Mile Walk Across Phoenix

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: August 12, 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) On Sunday, August 9, six young adults from Right to Marry: Arizona began a 97 mile walk from the Bible Church in Scottsdale to spark dialogue on marriage equality with religious leaders, city and state officials, and everyday citizens of Arizona.  With over 40 miles covered and dozens of challenging conversations behind them, the “equality walkers” have reached the halfway point in their journey.  Despite the heat, Meg Sneed and her team of six young equality advocates are determined to press on, promoting equal rights for Arizona’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens.

“We’ve had a great walk so far,” says Melissa Halverson, co-director of Right to Marry: Arizona, a campaign developed by Soulforce Q, the youth-driven arm of Soulforce, a national LGBT social justice organization.  “It’s tough conversations like the one’s we’ve had on the walk that will help bring marriage equality to Arizona, a state that has denied equal protection for LGBT folks for over nine decades.” 

This year marks the second annual Right to Marry walk in Arizona.  Sneed developed the campaign after participating in a three-day walk for breast cancer research.  As a cancer survivor, Sneed found the walk inspiring and decided to adapt her experience to the marriage equality debate in Arizona, walking a mile for every year the state has denied equal protection for its LGBT citizens.

“This year we’re focusing on the organizations and individuals who have spoken out strongly against marriage equality,” says Sneed.  “We’re stopping at churches, parks, and city hall to say enough is enough; it’s time to recognize and respect the rights of all the people in Arizona.”

The walkers have four days left in their trip, and will take on the following route:

  • 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                                                                                                   ###                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                             

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                                                                                                   ###                                                                                                                                                       

Young Adults Reach Halfway Point in 97 Mile Walk Across Phoenix

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: August 12, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: Meg Sneed, Right to Marry: Arizona, 623-262-6696
Carlos Perez de Alejo, Soulforce Media Director, 321-948-3423
******************************************

(Phoenix, AZ) On Sunday, August 9, six young adults from Right to Marry: Arizona began a 97 mile walk from the Bible Church in Scottsdale to spark dialogue on marriage equality with religious leaders, city and state officials, and everyday citizens of Arizona.  With over 40 miles covered and dozens of challenging conversations behind them, the “equality walkers” have reached the halfway point in their journey.  Despite the heat, Meg Sneed and her team of six young equality advocates are determined to press on, promoting equal rights for Arizona’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens.

“We’ve had a great walk so far,” says Melissa Halverson, co-director of Right to Marry: Arizona, a campaign developed by Soulforce Q, the youth-driven arm of Soulforce, a national LGBT social justice organization.  “It’s tough conversations like the one’s we’ve had on the walk that will help bring marriage equality to Arizona, a state that has denied equal protection for LGBT folks for over nine decades.” 

This year marks the second annual Right to Marry walk in Arizona.  Sneed developed the campaign after participating in a three-day walk for breast cancer research.  As a cancer survivor, Sneed found the walk inspiring and decided to adapt her experience to the marriage equality debate in Arizona, walking a mile for every year the state has denied equal protection for its LGBT citizens.

“This year we’re focusing on the organizations and individuals who have spoken out strongly against marriage equality,” says Sneed.  “We’re stopping at churches, parks, and city hall to say enough is enough; it’s time to recognize and respect the rights of all the people in Arizona.”

The walkers have four days left in their trip, and will take on the following route:

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                                                                                                   ###                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                             

Detroit News, "Lesbian Tries to Blaze Trail Against Arizona Ballot Issue"

Lesbian tries to blaze trail against Arizona ballot issue

Monday, July 14, 2008
By Deb Price

A famous Chinese proverb teaches that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

For Meg Sneed, a 25-year-old Arizona lesbian, journeys to change a thousand hearts begin with a single thought: There’s power in sharing personal stories.

In 2006, she and other young activists in Soulforce, a gay-rights group devoted to the peaceful confrontation practiced by Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., traveled eight weeks by bus to evangelical colleges to share what it’s like to be gay.

The next year, Sneed, who was fighting cancer, was weak from chemotherapy but walked 60 miles to help raise money for breast cancer research.

Now, with her home state set to vote on banning same-sex couples from marrying, Sneed is back on the move: Starting Aug. 8, she and other young Soulforce activists will walk 96 miles to the state capitol to share touching accounts of how the amendment would hurt real people.

She picked 96 miles for the six-day trek through egg-frying heat because that’s the number of years gay Arizonans haven’t had equal rights.

"Walking 96 miles," Sneed says of her bold adventure, "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."

At the same time as the blazing walk, other Soulforce activists will spread out to share their stories with Arizona’s young Mormons and senior citizens, two large voting blocs that most gay-rights supporters would write off. But Soulforce never writes anyone off.

"It is important to reach out and have those conversations, because until you get the dialogue started, you can’t start change," Sneed says.

Besides Arizona, marriage measures will be on the ballot in California and Florida. The broad Florida proposal would ban any sort of legal recognition for couples, except male-female marriage. To pass, it must get 60 percent of the vote.

California, where same-sex couples have been marrying since June 16, is the first state where voters will be asked whether marriage rights should be taken away from gay couples.

Two years ago, Arizona became the first to defeat a ballot measure that included a gay marriage ban. But that sweeping proposal, similar to the one up now in Florida, also would have banned domestic partner protections, even for heterosexuals.

This year, Arizonans will be voting solely on gay marriage. That distinction hints at the challenges — and opportunities — for activists determined to change hearts before Election Day.

Will voters in California or Arizona become the first to turn down an anti-gay amendment limited to marriage? California looks especially promising.

In Arizona, a Cronkite/Eight poll in February found voters supporting an amendment by 49-40 percent, with a whopping 11 percent undecided. Sneed sees those numbers as an invitation to keep talking and walking.

"If you just say, ‘Their minds are not going to change,’ then you are right, their minds are not going to change. But if you reach out to them, then there is a possibility."

Hearts are reached, the Arizona woman teaches, one step at a time.

The original article is available on the Detroit News website
www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080714/OPINION03/807140333

The Right to Marry Arizona 2008 Archive

RIGHT TO MARRY: Past Archives

 

RTM logo

Soulforce Q is proud to have completed the 2008 Right to Marry Arizona pilgrimage. After two successful marriage equality campaigns in New York State, the young adults of Soulforce Q brought their signature style of grassroots organizing to the Southwest. Right to Marry Arizona blended the excitement and innovation of a youth-led campaign with intergenerational activities that engaged all citizens.

VISIT THE RTM:AZ BLOG to read reports from the road and view photos.

LOCAL & NATIONAL MEDIA COVERAGE!

Check out the discussion after the Arizona Republic story on Sunday, August 17.

KPHX AM radio had Equality Walkers over for a chat on Saturday, August 16.

Darian was profiled in Atlanta’s Southern Voice on Friday, August 15.

CJ was profiled in the weekend edition of Tucson Weekly on Thursday, August 14.

FOX 10 News (Phoenix) did stories on Saturday, August 9 and Sunday, August 10.

Nationally syndicated Detroit News columnist, Deb Price, covered it on July 14.

Arizona’s ECHO Magazine features the Right to Marry journey in its August issue.

The Advocate gave Equality Walkers a shout-out in its online edition.

MTV covered our Walk as part of its Choose or Lose Campaign.

Univision and NBC sent reporters to cover our journey. We’ll post links to these stories when/if they become available.

THE CAMPAIGN

In August 10th through August 16th, Soulforce Q team of Equality Walkers set out to engage Phoenix in supporting marriage equality. Arizona was the first state to defeat a constitutional anti-marriage amendment in 2006. It is on the ballots again this November. Domestic partnership benefits were recently offered to state employees. Arizona is also home to the 2008 Republican Presidential candidate Senator John McCain. Seven young adults and their supporters covered 96 miles on foot, the number of years Arizona has been a state without equal protection for its LGBT citizens, throughout the city.  They stopped at city halls, local congregations, senior adult communities, and civic offices to share stories of those affected by the anti-marriage legislation. Inspired and informed by the multicultural traditions of freedom marches, prayer-walking and pilgrimage, the Equality Walkers traveled the following route.

Day 1: Sunday, August 10th – Surprise to Peoria
Morning service at the Surprise Unitarian Universalist Church

Day 2: Monday, August 11th – Peoria to Avondale
Day 3: Tuesday, August 12th – Avondale to Glendale
Day 4: Wednesday, August 13th – Glendale to Phoenix
Day 5: Thursday, August 14th – Phoenix to Mesa
Day 6: Friday, August 15th – Mesa to Tempe to Capitol
Day 7: Saturday, August 16th

5:00pm to 7:00pm – End of campaign rally & picnic in the Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix.

Phoenix Metro Area

 

MEET MEG & THE EQUALITY WALKERS

We are honored to introduce Meg Sneed, the inspiration and the driving force behind this campaign. Meg is a true Soulforce Q leader. She is one of the original Equality Riders, has organized the Right to Serve action in Phoenix and participated in the Right to Marry in New York. An amazing activist and person, she was recently nominated for Distinguished Service by a Woman Award by the Echo Magazine. Contact: meg@righttomarry.org

Meg Sneed “Growing up in Arizona has shaped who I am. From Madison #1 to North High School, the most crucial years of my life were spent in the heart of Phoenix. It was here that I learned to ride a bike, waved to my parents on my first day of school, had my first kiss, and got my first job. I have fried an egg on the sidewalk. I cringe when I remember game six of the 1993 NBA finals. I am a Phoenician… Many times I boarded a plane in Sky Harbor airport to venture out on a Soulforce action. This time, equality is coming home. After 96 years of statehood, LGBT people can no longer be treated as second-class citizens. Arizona is better than that. I am ready for what so many people begin dreaming about as children. I envision a big wedding with my family and friends as witnesses to my lifetime commitment to one person in front of God. I am ready for my home state to recognize and honor it as well.”

 

Meet all the Arizona Equality Walkers! Click here.

 

Soulforce Q is the young adult division of Soulforce, where we implement projects that empower youth to be leaders. In an effort to make activism accessible to all and put forth a diverse voice calling for equality, we cover all expenses attendant to our campaigns. We welcome all to participate and embrace diversity in age, creed, ethnicity, background, ability, gender idenity, sexual orientation, and educational status.

Links To More Information On Marriage Equality:

Equality Arizona: the statewide LGBT organization of Arizona

Freedom to Marry: a national organization on the forefront of marriage equality

Pride Agenda: the statewide LGBT organization of New York

2008 Right to Marry Campaign in New York State Archive

2007 Right to Marry Campaign in New York State Archive

Right to Marry Site Map

The Right to Marry

RIGHT TO MARRY

ARIZONA

Phoenix Metropolitan Area

August 7 – 16, 2009

RTM logo

Meet the 2009 Equality Walkers!

Check out the day-to-day stories on the Equality Walkers’ Blog


The Campaign

Our work in Arizona uses the framework of pilgrimage for its outreach. Last summer, we walked 96 miles throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area, one mile for every year Arizona has been a state without full legal recognition of its LGBT citizens. We stopped at churches, political meetings, and city manager offices to have a conversation about Proposition 102, the Arizona "defense of marriage" legislation, and a larger discussion about our lives and values.

Unfortunatey, last November Proposition 102 passed, but our work to create a cultural shift is as important as ever. We will continue our pilgrimage work with 97 miles this year in August. We will be visiting the communities that had the highest number of votes in favor of marriage inequality.

For one week, a core team of Equality Walkers will hit the pavement to speak to police, city managers, faith communities, elected officials and individuals in diverse districts. We invite community members to join us for a day or a segment on this journey. Look out for the rainbow umbrellas!

If you have questions or feeback, please contact the local co-directors:

Meg Sneed at Meg@righttomarry.org and Melissa Halverson at Melissa@righttomarry.org

Click hereto read past blogs, view photos and the route, see past media coverage, and meet the Equality Walkers of our Right to Marry: Arizona 2008 and New York campaign archives.

 

DONATE TO SUPPORT THE RIGHT TO MARRY CAMPAIGN!

We cover all participation expenses for Soulforce Q campaigns.  If you would like to support the empowerment of young adult leaders, please click here to donateTHANK YOU!

 

Soulforce Q is the young adult division of Soulforce, where we implement projects that empower youth to be leaders. In an effort to make activism accessible to all and put forth a diverse voice calling for equality, we cover all expenses attendant to our campaigns. We welcome all to participate and embrace diversity in age, creed, ethnicity, background, ability, gender idenity, sexual orientation, and educational status.