Life + Arts

Student group vows to secure equal rights

Student couples aren’t waiting any longer to say ‘I do’ during National Freedom to Marry Week.

On Thursday Feb. 12 at 11:30 a.m. at Butler Plaza, GLOBAL, UH’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) student group, will host its first on-campus Freedom to Marry event, ‘1+1, A Celebration of Equality and Marriage.’

GLBT and straight couples alike will either renew their vows or declare them for the first time amidst a festive throng of balloons, cakes, singers and onlookers.

Melanie Pang, communications senior and GLOBAL’s president for the past four semesters, is looking forward to seeing students’ reactions at the ceremonies.

‘I think since the ’90s, GLOBAL hasn’t done anything on a grand enough scale to where the student body’s stance on the issue could be gauged. I look forward to seeing how much our campus can come together,’ Pang said.

The event aims to show UH what GLOBAL is all about since most of the group’s previous events have been off-campus.

‘This is a celebration of the bond between two people willing to commit to one another forever,’ Pang said, ‘and I hope that these displays of love will finally convince the world that we undeniably are deserving of the same rights to be seen as equals in the eyes of the government which we elect, our maker – whoever that may be – and, most of all, to our fellow man.’

Hotel and restaurant management sophomore Dennis Ha didn’t know about GLOBAL until his second year, but felt right at home when he joined last semester.

‘Honestly, before GLOBAL, I never really participated in any GLBT things. I didn’t really have that many GLBT friends either. And now I’m treasurer of GLOBAL, which makes no sense,’ Ha said. ‘We need to find more ways to get people to know what GLOBAL’s about.’

A reception will be held for the newlyweds at 12:30 p.m. at Butler Plaza before the shift to discussion panel at 1:30 to 3 p.m. in the Bayou City Room of the University Center.

Students are welcome to join GLOBAL along with various religious leaders to discuss marriage rights and equality.

‘Hopefully, we can talk about how it’s OK to be gay. Hopefully, we can discuss how every person either gay or straight or transgendered should all have the same rights. What if we don’t call it ‘marriage?’ What if we call it a civil union, with the same exact rights?’ Ha said.

Stephen Bowers is a communications senior and GLOBAL member who echoes similar views about same-sex marriage.

‘Most of the reasons given against (same-sex marriage) are based in religion. Our country has a separation between church and state, so there should be no religious-based legislation. I do not agree with the government getting involved in bedroom issues,’ Bowers said.

GLOBAL joined a diverse crowd of individuals and organizations in a peaceful protest outside Houston City Hall on Nov. 15 after California’s implementation of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage. Similar protests in numerous cities across the US that day united in a collective cry of outrage and disappointment.

‘It was big, big, big. A lot of people turned up. We were standing there with our posters and stuff, and we look up and it’s Mayor Bill White at the window! We made our statement there and we made our presence known,’ Ha said.

In addition to making their presence known, Pang says that GLOBAL’s goals are to inform and educate students, to form relationships that help members grow and learn about their identities, to help members become more comfortable with themselves and one another on and off campus.

Most GLBT students feel comfortable on campus, but certain situations can sometimes prove awkward.

‘If you are assumed to be straight by most people, then there tends not to be an initial thought of ‘Do they not like me because I’m gay?’ but other times you may not know that they think you’re straight and there can be some uncomfortable moments,’ Bowers said.

Displays of affection on campus can also prove awkward, for both straight and GLBT couples depending, of course, on intensity.

‘I actually think it’s nice to see people care about each other, but not to the extent that they’re practically making love in front of you,’ Pang said.

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