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Originally published November 15, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 16, 2008 at 2:05 AM

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Thousands rally for gay marriage in Seattle

Gay-marriage advocates at Seattle rally vow they are in it for the long haul — and their opponents say the same.

Seattle Times staff reporter

With high spirits — and vows of determination — gay rights supporters Saturday marched by the thousands through Seattle, to advocate for the right of gay couples to marry.

Theirs was part of a wave of similar demonstrations across the country — in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C., and even in hinterlands like Fargo, North Dakota. Advocates said the time for change had come, as it has already in Massachusetts and Connecticut, the only states now that allow gay marriages.

All 30 states that have voted on gay marriage have enacted bans, including California this month, five months after the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage, and frustration over the setback spurred the recent wave of demonstrations.

In the months that same-sex marriage was legal in California, more than 18,000 couples — including some from Washington state — were married there.

"I just decided we need to speak out," said march organizer Kyler Powell, who organized the Seattle demonstration which, while exuberant, was also peaceful. "We are not going to sit like a lame duck and take the injustice that has been dealt the gay community."

Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, one of the state's openly gay legislators and a longtime leader of the fight for gay marriage in Olympia, said that during the upcoming session of the Legislature he will once again introduce a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. But it is going to take more than a march on a pretty day to get the measure passed, Murray said.

"The challenge is to march by the thousands not just here but in Olympia. Are you willing to do that?" he asked the crowd, which gathered for a rally at Volunteer Park before marching to Westlake Park.

"Are you willing to doorbell in suburbia and rural Washington and seek the friendship of African-American evangelicals, and Catholics and Mormons? If you are willing to do that, you will achieve equality."

Opponents mostly stayed away from the rally and march. But their opposition is steadfast.

Sen. Dan Swecker, R-Rochester, a longtime opponent of same-sex marriage, said if a gay marriage bill is passed he will work to put it on the ballot statewide and defeat it. "For me, this is the biggest issue," Swecker said, "and I will oppose it with every resource I can possibly muster. Marriage is something that needs to be set apart and protected."

Pastor Joseph Fuiten of Cedar Park Church in Bothell, said the march didn't matter. "I am going to mow my lawn. Their demonstration is of no consequence to me. People walking the streets in Seattle, that is not intelligent, this is juvenile. It's not intellectual discourse, it's a non-event."

But advocates said Saturday their march is just the beginning of a sustained fight. Dressed in wedding finery, Cambrea Ezell and Robin Romeo of Seattle said as residents of Washington, they won't give up on the right to get married in their home state. "We live here, we work here, and we pay taxes here," Romeo said. "And we want to be treated like anyone else."

Material from the Associated Press was used in this story.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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