Hundreds attend gay rights rally

Keyes' daughter speaks at gathering in Annapolis

February 15, 2005|By Sumathi Reddy | Sumathi Reddy,STAFF WRITER

A 14-year-old spoke of a world that won't let his "two moms" get married. The mother of Matthew Shepard, the Wyoming victim of a fatal 1998 beating, invoked the need for Maryland to include sexual orientation in its hate-crimes statute.

And Maya Marcel-Keyes, 19, daughter of conservative commentator and perennial political candidate Alan Keyes, made her public debut at yesterday's gay rights rally in front of the State House in Annapolis.

They were among hundreds who urged lawmakers to reject another attempt to pass a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage and to support bills that would add sexual orientation to hate-crimes penalties and would give medical decision-making to gay couples.

FOR THE RECORD - An article Tuesday about a gay rights rally in Annapolis misstated the first name of the executive director of Equality Maryland. He is Dan Furmansky.
The Sun regrets the errors.

"When you change the constitution, you don't erase our families," said David Furmansky, executive director of Equality Maryland, a gay rights advocacy group and sponsor of the rally, which drew supporters ranging from gay rights groups to sympathetic church representatives.

Two weeks ago, about 1,000 supporters of a constitutional ban on gay marriage - including Gov. Michael S. Steele - attended a Defend Maryland Marriage rally at the same location.

"I say to the lieutenant governor, `You are excluding my family and are promoting nothing but prejudice,'" said Jack Williams, 14, who spoke about his family's situation, which includes his mother and her female partner - whom he called his "two moms."

Marcel-Keyes spoke about a friend who died last week, a homeless teen-ager forced out on the streets after he was rejected by his parents. A lesbian, Marcel-Keyes helped her father campaign for the Senate in Illinois last year but recently has broken from her parents after making her activism public.

In her talk, Marcel-Keyes said she was struck by the contrast between the support she received when her situation became public last year, compared with the lack of support given to her friend.

"This is a speech about how it's hard growing up queer in a conservative household, but it's not a speech about me," she said.

She added that she was trying to draw attention to "thousands of kids growing up in houses where they are raised, being told constantly how there is somehow wrong, unnatural, immoral."

Last year while running for the Senate in Illinois, Alan Keyes called Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, a "selfish hedonist."

Yesterday, Keyes' press secretary, Connie Hair, gave a prepared statement about his daughter's appearance at the rally.

"My daughter is an adult, and she is responsible for her own actions. What she chooses to do has nothing to do with my work or political activities," it said.

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