RALEIGH — Around 200 people, coordinated by Equality NC, gathered in front of the Wake County Courthouse on Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil in a show of support for same-sex marriage as the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments this week on the Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.
This is the fight of our generation, and the public perception and public opinion is changing so fast so I think we need to be at things like this, said Margaret Hartzell of Raleigh. Believing is not enough, participating is how were going to change things.
The vigil was part of a nationwide series of vigils held as part of the United for Marriage: Light the Way to Justice movement. Volunteers walked amongst Raleighs vigil stalwarts, handing out candles as signs were raised and cheers rang out to the words of the speakers.
Im volunteering because I believe in equality and equal rights to make responsible choices, said Michael Crumpler of Chapel Hill.
Im here because I would like for me and my friends to have federally recognized marriage like everybody else, said Katie Evans, who moved to Raleigh. Im in the fight always until the last prejudice falls.
James Crook is a member of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church and attended the vigil to support his friends and his pastor.
Im here because I believe in equal rights, he said.
Nancy Petty, pastor at Pullen, said it is time for her to stand with her lesbian sisters and gay brothers in this fight for a constitutional right to marry.
A native North Carolinian, she said chooses to stay in the state where she has grown up, instead of moving to a state that already has approved same-sex marriages.
Theres something important about staying where you are called to be. We deserve these rights the same as New York or Maine. We stay here to fight for those rights here, Petty said.