Mon June 24, 2013
Community Marches for LGBT Equality in Wausau
Hundreds of people turned out this weekend for a “March For Equality” organized by Wausau's gay community, but the event almost didn't take place.
The march was originally scheduled as a gay pride event by a California man who spends time in Wausau. But soon, members of Wausau's own gay community voiced concerns that they weren't being asked for their input. Different concerns were voiced by an alderman on the Wausau City Council: “Indecent behavior will be on full display.”
Alderman David Nutting quoted scripture and asked Wausau citizens to boycott the event.
Nutting: “I ask that all residents stay away from the parade, or if you do go, stand with your back to the parade of deviant-behaving individuals.”
The alderman's comments were recorded by public access TV. Shannon Thomas, a Wausau businesswoman and lesbian, was offended.
Thomas: “He generalized the gay community by saying that we had deviant and disturbing behavior. It was very hurtful, and I had to make a stand against that.”
So when the original gay pride event was canceled, Thomas organized what she called a “March For Equality” that would focus on politics.
Thomas: “We are not allowed to marry. We do not have the rights that come with that for our partner and our families. This is very important.”
Despite having no parade permit, holding balloons and waving American and rainbow flags, more than 300 people marched across town Saturday for equal rights. Emily Stuckenbruck, a straight married woman, was among them.
Stuckenbruck: “It's going to be like me looking back at when African American people and white folk couldn't get married. Our children are going to look back on this and ask us what side of this issue we were on, and I hope I'm on the right side.”
The city's gay community is promising an even bigger event next year.