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Gay marriage supporters rally

Hagerstown Hopes group seeks more acceptance for gays and lesbians

June 09, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com
  • The Rev. Michael Hydes of New Light Metropolitan Church in Hagerstown was one of several speakers Saturday during the Hagerstown Hopes rally held at at University Plaza on West Washington Street. The rally was in support of the GBLTQ community.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

With same-sex marriage opponents successful in their drive to force a public vote in Maryland, about 100 people gathered in Hagerstown on Saturday to talk about the other side of the issue.

The rally was organized by Hagerstown Hopes, a group Anna Draper formed about two years ago.

Draper, who lives in Hagerstown, said she wants to help gays and lesbians gain more acceptance.

Describing herself as “a middle-aged, straight, soccer mom,” Draper said she has seen her best friend, uncle and ex-sister-in-law, as homosexuals, experience prejudice and pain based on their sexual orientation.

The rally at University Plaza on West Washington Street has been in the works for about six months.

David Lidz, a former Hagerstown City Council candidate now living in Smithsburg, said he wasn’t involved in the same-sex marriage cause until he saw a Facebook post from Draper.

When he ran for council in 2009, Lidz acquired a bunch of registered Democrats as Facebook friends, including Draper. He had never met Draper, but ended up the chairman of this year’s Hagerstown Hopes rally.

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Lidz said he became more motivated when he saw that the core of the movement to overturn the same-sex marriage law was in Washington County, referring to Republican Del. Neil C. Parrott and his group, MdPetitions.com.

“I found that appalling,” Lidz said. “I don’t want the rest of Maryland to think that we’ve cavemen.”

The Maryland General Assembly passed a bill this year making same-sex marriage legal in Maryland.

However, opponents have used the petition process to force a referendum as part of this year’s general election on Nov. 6.

Karess Taylor-Hughes of Marylanders for Marriage Equality told the crowd that homosexual couples and other same-sex marriage supporters should tell their stories to as many people who will listen as the referendum approaches.

The Rev. Michael Hydes of New Light Metropolitan Church in Hagerstown said the family is the fundamental building block of society, regardless of a couple’s gender.

On a sunny day, people listened to music in the park and ate ice cream.

Community Free Clinic, Maryland Democrats, Veritas United Church of Christ and Hagerstown TG’s were represented. Volunteers representing 6th Congressional District candidate John Delaney were there, too.

TerriLee Bell, the founder and moderator of Hagerstown TG’s — TG’s is short for transgendered people — said Hagerstown, despite being in a conservative part of Maryland, is “an accepting live-and-let-live community.”

The rally was billed as an event to support the “GBLTQ community,” referring to gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgendered and questioning.

Draper said homosexual couples and individuals are no different than anyone else.

“We all love, and we all have emotions,” she said.

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