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about 3 years ago

Santorum Event at HUB Draws Gay-Pride Protesters

Rick Santorum

The fireworks might have been going off inside 106 HUB, during spirited back-and forth sessions between students and Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, but just outside, there was a rainbow.

Starting their rally at around 7:00 pm, while prospective audience goers lined up to enter the event, held by the College Republicans, members of three different student organizations protested against Rick Santorum’s policies, especially those related to gay marriage, adoption, and his strong support of so-called traditional family values.

By 9:15 p.m., as attendees began to file out of the room, the protesters were still going strong, waving flags, and chanting messages, including “We Are…Not Straight.” They’d been going at it for more than two hours, but that didn’t seem to diminish their energy.

Though it’s unlikely that they changed anyone’s mind on those issues–or that their rally would have much of an effect on Santorum’s campaign, which is already floundering well behind the front-runners for the GOP nomination–there’s no doubt on who was having more fun Tuesday night. While event-goers crammed inside a small, sweltering hot meeting room, those outside maintained their exuberance throughout the night.

Alyssia Motah, president of the LGBTA Student Alliance, organized the protest after hearing news of Santorum’s impending visit, feeling that it was something she had a responsibility to do, since hers is “the activist LGBT organization on campus”.

“We felt it necessary to respond,” Motah said. “In the past, he’s made a lot of homophobic remarks, and has an anti-LGBT agenda.”

It wasn’t just a rally against the former Senator’s policies, though. Motah came out “not only to show that we are against his agenda, but to increase our visibility to students, to show them that there is a voice here.” She thought this was a way to publicize the club, and to invite more students to participate.

Many joined the movement, even those primarily unaffiliated with the LGBT movement.

Brian Flowers, president of the ACLU of Penn State, said he’d heard about the protest on his way to the meeting of his own organization, and decided to bring members of the ACLU along with him to the corridor outside room 106. He said that rallying against Santorum was something he could “definitely” get behind.

“We decided to come out and support this, because LGBT rights are an important part of our agenda. We want to make sure everyone gets equal rights.”

Scott Brown, the newly elected president of the Atheists and Agnostics association, and some other members of the club, came to the protest in a similar vein to lend a hand in the fight against Santorum.

“We support gay rights,” Brown said, “everyone deserves equal rights under the law.”

“And it’s not just a ‘gay issue’, it’s about equal rights for all,” he continued. “If they discriminate against one group, what’s to stop them from discriminating against everyone?”

image Dave Cole

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