A group of about 200 Brown and Rhode Island School of Design students rallied on campus and marched to the State House in support of same-sex marriage yesterday.
A bill to legalize same-sex marriage was passed by the House of Representatives Jan. 24, and must be passed by the Senate before it can become law.
The crowd chanted, “What do we want? Marriage equality! When do we want it? Yesterday!” as it made its way down College Hill to the State House steps. Students carried large signs with slogans such as “All hearts beat the same” and “Equal rights for all” written in red paint in honor of Valentine’s Day.
The Brown Democrats and the Queer Alliance, who co-hosted the protest, asked supporters to wear red clothing in solidarity.
Michelle Bailhe ’15, one of the rally’s organizers, said she hoped the march would show Brown and RISD’s support for the bill. Bailhe said support was especially important now that the bill had passed the House.
“Students have had a long history of a really important presence in civil rights movements,” Bailhe said in an interview with Rhode Island Public Radio. “It’s about shaping the kind of America we want to live in.”
The protesters were met outside the State House by Rep. Frank Ferri, D-Warwick, and Rep. Joseph Almeida, D-RI.
“It’s easy,” Almeida said about supporting the bill. He said legalizing same-sex marriage is a matter of civil rights and that it is a cause he has supported since 1998.
Almeida said it was important to get students involved, especially now that “times have changed” and more people are in favor of the bill than ever before. “We’ve got to keep the pressure on,” he said, if the bill is going to pass.
Brown is an important part of the fight to pass the bill, Gabe Schwartz ’13 said.
“Not only are we a big economic force, but we’re also a political force,” he said.
In 2010, a smaller crowd traveled from Brown to the State House to advocate for the bill when it was introduced to the House.
Not every member of the Rhode Island Senate has taken a stance on the bill, though several members, including Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, D-District 13, Jamestown and Newport, have opposed the bill.