East Texas area gays hold celebration rally - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

East Texas area gays hold celebration rally


East Texas area gays celebrated the DOMA and Prop 8 ruling with a peaceful rally Wednesday night.

Friends, family, and straight allies of the LGBT community got together on the square in Tyler.

People were smiling, laughing, and cars passing by were honking in support of signs being displayed for equality. Many at the rally say they never thought a day like this would happen in their lifetime.

"Because we have felt so singled out and so like second class citizens for so long, to have a momentous ruling like this that affords us the same privileges as other people is just beyond us," says D. Karen Wilkerson, secretary of the board of directors for Project TAG, or Tyler Area Gays.

Wilkerson says East Texas gays weren't sure what the Supreme Court would rule, but they were ready to stand together.

"They didn't know, when they talked about it last night, if it would be an occasion for sadness or an occasion for joy, but they knew they needed to be together."

It was easy to see the joy on people's faces as they celebrated this moment in history.

"When you look over here and see my 7-year-old daughter, and that we were able to in five minutes explain to her why we were here and exactly what it was about, and even though it was kind of silly to her, that she accepted it for what it was and saw the fairness in what we are doing, that speaks greatly about how it's the right decision," says Kate Keenan, a straight ally at the rally.

Earlier on Wednesday, people made signs for the rally. Project TAG members say the signs are not meant to offend anyone.

"For a lot of people this is a loss and I'm aware of that. I try to be respectful of what everyone else around me is feeling and thinking …so I look at them and go, ‘let's talk'," says Jolie Smith, Project TAG chairman of the board.

The founder of Tyler Area Gays, Troy Carlyle, says he is happy but frustrated, "I never thought that we would get this far but the further we get the more frustrating it gets that we're not all the way there."

Carlyle says people need to come together.

"I would suggest that sooner rather than later we can all embrace the idea that human beings deserve human rights."

East Texas area gays say while they are celebrating tonight, they are still going to push forward for equal rights in Texas. They say Wednesday's rulings are just a spring board for what needs to happen next.

Wednesday's rulings were not an absolute victory for gay rights advocates. The Supreme Court declined to make a sweeping statement on the broader issue of same-sex marriage rights nationwide, meaning same-sex marriages will only be legally recognized in states where it is legal. 

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