This Isn't a Free Ride
By Kristen Lombardi, Boston Phoenix.
Gay-rights protesters at the Democractic convention are concerned that the party is taking them for granted.
Glenn Amoroso, a 42-year-old gay man from Chicago, has distributed fliers denouncing Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry's stance on gay marriage for 30 minutes – yet hasn't found many takers. It's 9 p.m. on Monday night, and he's standing outside Avalon, on Lansdowne Street, the scene of the much-ballyhooed Unity 2004 Celebration for the 255 gay delegates and gay-rights advocates attending the DNC. Several dozen people have already lined up on the red-velvet carpet leading into the dance club. But when Amoroso approaches the partygoers – most of them affiliated with such national gay-rights organizations as the Human Rights Campaign and the Stonewall Democrats – he receives a decidedly chilly reception. People hold up their hands to his fliers, as if to say 'Thanks, but no thanks.' Some take a flier, fold it up, and stash it away. No one engages Amoroso in debate.
"People aren't interested in human rights," Amoroso says, when asked about his attempts to hand out literature to fellow gay men and lesbians. Donning a blue T-shirt that offers the message EQUAL MARRIAGE RIGHTS NOW, he adds, "They want to back a candidate who doesn't back us."
Amoroso is talking about Kerry, of course, who has managed to put off many gay folks with his less-than-satisfactory stance on gay marriage. While Kerry has said he opposes changing the US Constitution to bar civil-marriage rights for same-sex couples, he also opposes gay marriage. Worse still, he's made it plain that he backs the proposed anti-gay amendment to the Massachusetts constitution, which would strip same-sex couples of marital rights in the one state where they're reality. Amoroso and his fellow protesters find it "utterly offensive" that a politician who claims to be pro-gay could say that separate but equal is good enough.
But if the protesters' colleagues in the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender community are ignoring their message, they don't seem to be deterred. They yell themselves horse over the "hypocrisy" of the Democratic Party. They wave banners and posters ("MARRIAGE IS A HUMAN RIGHT NOT A HETEROSEXUAL PRIVILEGE" ) at casual passersby. They even move their staging area directly before the Avalon to get noticed by the crowd.