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Equality Ohio and GetEQUAL Ohio are teaming up for the Ohio Street Protest for Full Equality taking over Cleveland March 24. This is the third rally of its kind, with average crowd of 400 taking over the downtowns of Cincinnati and Columbus late last year.

The protest’s organizers are expecting a slightly bigger turnout in Cleveland, since this time they’ll be staging a mass wedding featuring 200 couples, the first of it’s kind in Ohio. A rally highlighting speakers from both of the sponsoring organizations along with community leaders from around the state (including yours truly) will be followed by the biggest gay wedding Ohioans have ever seen.

Ed Mullen (Equality Ohio’s executive director) and Tom Morgan (director of GetEQUAL Ohio) both spoke to The Plain Dealer about the protest:

Rallies were held late last year in Columbus and Cincinnati, but Ed Mullen, executive director of Equality Ohio, said this may be the first such event in the Midwest, featuring a mass wedding.

“The more people see what same-sex couples look like and who they are, it enables us to change people’s minds about stereotypes they might have about these couples,” he said.

Mullen noted that this “soft” approach to the issue was a deliberate way of showing how these couples view marriage as “a continuation of loving relationships, and committing yourself to be with someone for the rest of their life.”

He added, “It’s more effective than shouting through a bullhorn, ‘You’re oppressing us.’ If you don’t put people on the defensive from the outset, they might be more willing to listen and learn.”

He believed this rally and similar public events such as the 2014 Gay Games in Northeast Ohio could change attitudes about the gay community and provide “the ability to get the civil rights that we do not have in Ohio.”

Tom Morgan, state lead organizer for GetEQUAL Ohio, said, “Everyone knows they’re not really getting married. This is a tangible representation of the rights we are not afforded, a physical demonstration of the state of inequality in the country and within Ohio.”

Morgan said part of the event also will include collecting signatures on petitions to legally re-define marriage in Ohio.

The protest is set to take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Willard Park located on E. 9th Street and Lakeside Ave. Over 2,400 people have RSVP’d on Facebook. I hope you all can join us, it’s going to be a great day for equality!

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