Nearly 100 students gathered at Cal State University, Channel Islands, last week, on March 28, to send a clear and united message to community members and legislatures that their generation will be the one to define gay marriage as an unalienable right.
What makes the demonstration at CSU, Channel Islands, so unique is the fact that this cohesive group of students was entirely bipartisan, made up of groups that are often caught in strong opposition. Sharing the microphone and demonstration space were the CI College Republicans, CI College Democrats, the Young American Libertarians, and Spectrum, the gay-straight alliance at CSUCI.
“At a time when our politics are highly polarized, it speaks volumes when Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and people of all political stripes, creeds, colors, and religions can come together around a common goal,” said Jordan Ball, 22, a senior political science major and president of the CI College Democrats. “To have Democrats and Republicans unite and embrace marriage equality for gays and lesbians is monumental.”
Joining the student groups at the initiative was Ventura County Pride and the Stonewall Democrats of Ventura County. Both community groups expressed great pride in the motivation and potential of the younger generation to generate progress on the front of same-sex marriage.
“I never thought I’d see Republicans and Democrats come together on this in my lifetime. It is so inspiring,” said Shawn Terris, 55, president of the Stonewall Democrats.
“[Becoming] aware at a younger age and carrying it with you will make for a better voice overall for this nation,” said Eric Matos, 21, a junior at CSUCI and director of events for CI College Republicans. “You can’t have one-sided opinions, you’ve got to look at the whole scheme of things.”
Elisa Arcidiacono, 21, a senior political science major and CI College Republicans president, agreed with Matos.
“Usually there is kind of a negative connotation when it comes to Republicans because people don’t think we’re at all accepting of other ideologies,” she said. “[The Republican] party is in need of something of a transformation. Lack of knowledge breeds intolerance. Those days are over.”
In the days leading up to the demonstration, students stood outside of buildings on campus and collected signatures in support of same-sex marriage from their peers. By the end of the week, the number of signatures surpassed the goal of 1,000, proving that the student voice is strongly in favor of fair legislation.
Milo Alfarero, 20, a sophomore nursing and communication major and president of the Spectrum club, confirms this overwhelming support from the student population.
“CI has been a very supportive community for towards myself, the Spectrum club, and the community,” he said. “We have had so much support not only from our members, but also from the whole CI community.”
“I see a new hope. I see our future,” said Milo.
In the words of Jordan Ball, “While the naysayers may be loud, we are louder, we are stronger, and we are participating in the civil rights movement of our generation. … We will not achieve LGBT equality by being silent.”