This day in history: same-sex couples ‘marry’ in Valentine’s Day protest

Cameron Stuart and Jenna Guzman curated this story by Julia Merchant, which The Appalachian originally published Feb. 16, 2006.

As part of a protest in favor of giving gay couples equal marriage rights, around 40 same-sex couples were “married” on King Street on Valentine’s Day.

The event, sponsored by Appalachian’s National Organizations for Women and NARAL, a pro-choice group, drew a “steady flow of traffic” between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., NOW President Elizabeth Young said.

Young and several others presided over couples, acting as the “judge” and reading a set of vows that had been written for the occasion which spoke of “equal rights for all.” Many of the couples donned wedding veils, exchanged rings and kissed at the end of the ceremony.

Following the marriage ceremony, the couples took a ride around King Street in the back of a pick-up truck complete with a “Just Married” sign and traditional aluminum cans tied to the bumper.

Young said most people seemed to be supportive of the groups’ efforts, demonstrated by the frequent honking and cheering that could be heard as people drove by.

Boone Police officer Carl Underwood, who oversaw the protest, said he “had no problem with it. It’s been a very peaceful demonstration, and everyone has been very cordial and nice.”

“The only real negative thing we heard was when this one guy walked near us and said that we should be pretending to get married, because there were children around,” Young said.

NOW advisor and marketing associate professor Eva Hyatt said the event helped to raise awareness and provided good visibility for the issue at hand.

“We feel a marriage amendment would serve to discriminate against gays with love for one another…it’s an equality issue, which NOW supports,” Hyatt said. “Some people here really want to show their commitment to each other.”

Junior health promotion major Erin M. Hargett said she came out to support the event because she believes there is no reason for gay marriage not to be allowed.

“If two girls or guys are in love with each other, there should be a legal way to commit to each other. Their love is as real as someone who is straight,” Hargett said.

Young said the turnout at the event “exceeded my expectations.” She said her group plans to become more active in the fight for equal marriage rights, partly through the formation of a monthly discussion group.