Charged up by recent marriage equality victories in states like Iowa and Vermont, members of Allied in Pride – GW’s LGBTQ student organization – are pushing to make the District allow same-sex marriages.
On the heels of Vermont’s vote to approve gay marriage in the state on Tuesday, the D.C. City Council voted unanimously last week to recognize other states’ same-sex marriages in the District, a move that many speculate could pave the way for same-sex marriages in D.C. if Congress approves the measure.
“It’s almost a feeling of disbelief,” said Michael Thomas Mort, chairman of the Marriage Equality Coalition, a branch of Allied in Pride. “It was very surreal to have the Iowa Supreme Court decision happen, and I was still trying to digest that when Vermont happened. Then within minutes it came up that D.C. will recognize marriage equality and I’m just ecstatic.”
Mort, a junior, said he and his organization have been working all year, lobbying members of Congress and D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty to allow same-sex couples the right to marry.
Mort said they collected nine pages of signatures from GW students in support of same-sex marriages and sent them to members of the D.C. City Council and Fenty.
Because the signatures were sent only weeks before the D.C. City Council vote, Mort said he feels like his organization played a role in the victory.
“There’s definitely a correlation there because the letter was sent in such close proximity to the vote,” Mort said.
Michael Komo, president of Allied in Pride, said his organization has focused the entire year on pushing for marriage equality and has seen a shift in people’s responses as of late.
“We have gone canvassing door to door in D.C. and people have been either very receptive or neutral, whereas in the past, it was hit or miss and people were hostile,” said Komo, a sophomore.
He added, “This year, we really haven’t seen opposition to our events. Last year, YAF protested our marriage equality week. I don’t think there was a protest this year. I don’t know if it’s a lack of effort on their part or that we have been successful in winning people over. We are pleasantly surprised and pleased.”
Aside from a decrease in opposition to the cause, Komo said other student groups on campus have been eager to help with events focused on garnering same-sex marriage rights.
“Student orgs have reached out to us without us asking and offered support,” Komo said. “Our goal is to see same-sex marriage in D.C. and we are working especially hard in D.C. I think that within a year we could quite possibly see marriage here.”
Mort added, “We’re just really excited, just ecstatic.”