Students Walk Out To Protest Gay Marriage Vote

Tue. November 2, 2004 12:00 AM by

Grand Forks, North Dakota - Students walked out of class Monday at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks to protest today's vote for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

North Dakota is one of 11 states deciding whether to ban gay unions. Students left classes about 15 minutes into each period at 11:15, 12:15, 1:15 and 2:15 to join the demonstration in the school's quad.

Because students left and came each hour it was impossible to tell how many participated, but organizers say it was in the hundreds.

Joe Johnston, a UND graduate student and a gay man, said the matter comes down to basic rights.

"I'm a resident of North Dakota; I pay taxes; I obey the same laws," Johnston told the Grand Forks Herald. "I just want to have the same rights as other people - and I want to be able to marry."

Joining the students were a number of faculty and staff. Also on hand were several Democratic candidates for the state legislature and Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown.

Members of UND's 10% Society, the university's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advocacy group carried signs that read "Equality is a North Dakota Value - Vote No on Measure No. 1," and "Do I look like a threat to the sanctity of anything?" They also called out chants, such as "Hey! Hey! Vote No, measure one has got to go."

Later, as the protest swelled, it was moved to the Memorial Union where Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joe Satrom addressed the crowd.

Speakers called the proposed amendment redundant because North Dakota already has a law that makes same-sex marriage illegal.

Similar demonstrations were held at other campuses in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.

© 2004

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