Summit student organizes gay, human rights rally
April 23, 2009
BRECKENRIDGE ” A gay and human rights rally on Monday in Breckenridge is intended to spread awareness of hate crime issues and support for gay marriage.
Summit High School senior Chris Gabrels is leading the event ” through the Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Bisexual and Transgender Society ” for the second consecutive year.
The rally occurs within a week of Allen Andrade’s guilty conviction and sentencing to life in prison for the first-degree murder of Greeley resident Angie Zapata, a transgendered woman who was born a man.
It was the first time someone has been sent to prison for killing a transgender person under a hate-crime law in the country, according to a report in the Denver Post.
“It’s a hard decision, but I’m really happy the verdict was a hate crime,” Gabrels said. “I feel very sorry for the mother. I couldn’t fathom how that would be to lose a child because of a hate or other crime.”
As last year, the Breckenridge rally will involve picketing and awareness of such hate crimes. But Gabrels said there will also be “a lot more positive aspects,” such as support for gay marriage.
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“I don’t understand why it’s such a big topic,” he said, adding that he doesn’t think religious beliefs should be applied to legislation in such situations.
Gabrels said the same-sex marriage topic was decided upon because of a rally the next day in Manhattan supporting a bill in the New York legislature.
He’s hoping between 30 and 40 people attend Monday’s local rally. Thus far, about 20 students, teachers and members of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays are planning to be there.
The rally will be at the Blue River Plaza by the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Last year’s event focused primarily on the National Day of Silence, which occurred this year on April 17. This event aims to bring attention to sexual-orientation-discriminating name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools.
Gabrels said last year’s event was hosted by the SHS GLSBT Club, but that the club didn’t meet this school year because there weren’t enough participants.
He also said that relative to people in other parts of the country, Summit County residents are more accepting of people with alternative lifestyles.
Gabrel said local students such as sophomore Chamonix Adams-Porter have been essential in helping the rally occur next week.
After planning the two rallies and spreading community awareness of GLSBTs, Gabrels is to graduate this year. He plans to attend Savannah College of Art and Design or the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan.
Robert Allen can be reached at (970) 668-4628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.