Time For An Upgrade

RallyCold and important. These are the impressions I took from the Chicago Rally for Illinois Marriage Equality this afternoon at the Thompson Center.

I have plenty of trepidation about writing about political events… The thing is: I’m a dance writer. I wouldn’t consider myself the most inspired of citizens. I’m not involved and not even particularly informed when it comes to politics. I get most of my news from Twitter, The Onion, and The Daily Show. And, couldn’t gay marriage have been up for vote in the summer, so we didn’t have to stand out in the cold?!?

But as speaker after speaker came to the mic – representatives from the Civil Rights Agenda, Queer Fest America, Join The Impact Chicago, Gay Liberation Network, and some “regular people” – it hit home to me that a rally isn’t just about standing in the cold and preaching to a choir. It’s not about reminding an inspired group of people who’ve already called their legislators to call their legislators.

rally2This rally was for people who don’t generally pay attention (like me). It was for the people who want to see equality happen but trust others to do the work for us. It was for passers by, and people at home who might catch a snippet on the news about some vote on gay marriage. It was to remind us that: “Hey! You! This is important!”

Alderman James Cappelman also approached the mic this afternoon with his husband. While his message largely echoed the others’, he told a poignant story of drinking from a water fountain labeled “coloreds only” when he was a boy. He wanted to see if the water tasted differently, and it did. It was lukewarm. Civil Unions are merely a lukewarm version of marriage – a separate fountain for gay people to drink from – designed to appease civil right activists in a patronizing show of government support. The message today was that Civil Unions aren’t good enough. It’s time for an upgrade.


Our relationships and marriages shouldn’t be political, but they are. So in order to see change, we have to do a bit of work. Calling your legislators isn’t fun, and doesn’t carry an immediate reward; it’s sort of like flossing. It’s something you have to do, and the potential rewards down the line – like a mouth full of cavity-free teeth and marriage equality for all – make it totally worth it.

Looking across the crowd at the children and families today, and listening to a couple speak with their adorable kids on their hips, the idea of legitimacy came to mind. We are citizens of Chicago, of Illinois, and of the United States. We shouldn’t have to appeal to a bunch of Senators to legitimize our relationships and our families, but taking the stance of “I shouldn’t have to, so I won’t” doesn’t get us anywhere. We all dream of the day when the fight for marriage equality sounds as ridiculous as a “coloreds only” water fountain. Until that time, we have a responsibility to ensure that we all get there.

So, here’s a little homework:

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About Lauren W

Lauren Warnecke is a Chicago-based dance writer, educator, and freelance dance professional. She holds degrees in Dance (BA, ’03) and Kinesiology (MS, ’09) and is currently a full-time Clinical Instructor for the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition at UIC. Created in 2009 as a platform for dance-based discourse, Lauren owns and operates Art Intercepts, a dance blog and online resource actively promoting the use of evidence-based practices in dance training and performance with the goal to improve and elevate artistry, dance education, and dancer health. She is a contributing author/blogger at Dance Advantage, 4dancers, and the Huffington Post, and an arts contributor at The L Stop. Lauren freelances as a production/stage manager, choreographer, media relations specialist, and grant writer, for small arts organizations and is a Certified Personal Trainer. She is a master composter who likes to dig in the dirt and bake scones.


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