Students at MU Pride Parade React to Law Changes

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COLUMBIA - MU students and their supporters marched through campus Wednesday afternoon, advocating equal treatment regardless of sexual orientation. About one hundred supporters held posters and rainbow flags, chanting words of respect and unity. The march ended in the courtyard behind the MU Student Center.

April marks the month for campus Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer and Transgender (LGBQT) organizations to spread awareness of their issues, but also comes at a time this year when many state lawmakers are considering allowing gay marriage. Rhode Island is on the path to be the 10th state to support gay marriage as its senate judiciary committee and passed a marriage bill to send to the state senate Tuesday. Delaware's bill legalizing gay-marriage passed in its house by a slim margin, and is now headed to the state senate. Nevada voted to change its definition of marriage on Monday with a senate joint resolution which would go to voters in 2015 if passed by lawmakers.

MU student Nick Droege said Missouri should join this nationwide support.  The state does not currently recognize same-sex marriage.

"I would just want legislators to understand this is something important to many communities here in Missouri," Droege said.

Gay marriage also gained support on an international scale. France has legalized gay marriage, progress that MU student Joey Greenstein said places the U.S. behind  other developed countries.

"I think it's ironic because the United States is so concerned with being at the forefront of new technologies, innovations, and being ahead of the game, but at the same time, we aren't following suit and we're rather behind on this," Greenstein said.

MU student Naomi Daughtery said it was difficult coming out, but these scheduled events make her more comfortable with accepting her identity.

"Even with policy changes, we are seeing a level of growth and understanding among the common citizens, so it is pretty encouraging," Daugherty.

The LGBQT resource center will also host several events this month, including keynote speakers and workshops.