Remember that song from "Benny and June" that went "I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more . . ." Well, how do you feel about 96 miles?
While most locals are surviving the Dog Days of summer by moving from one air-conditioned space to the next, Meg Sneed--a 25-year-old graduate of North High School--plans to spend August 8-16 outdoors, traversing the Valley by foot. Sneed and five other young adults will walk 96 miles to raise awareness about Proposition 102, a constitutional amendment on this November's ballot that attempts to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
Meg is a member of Soulforce Q, the young adult division of Soulforce, a national social justice organization, and the local organizer of their Right to Marry Campaign.
"As a young adult, I would like to be able to marry the person I choose one day, but I need the same rights and protections as previous generations of Arizonans in order to do that," says Sneed, who identifies as a lesbian.
The idea for Right to Marry came to Sneed after participating in a three-day walk for breast cancer research. As a cancer survivor herself, Sneed found distance walking both grueling and empowering.
"Walking 96 miles may seem like a crazy feat. But the purpose is to be bold, the length is meant to be challenging," says Sneed. "It has been challenging for gay and lesbian Arizonans to go 96 years without equal rights. Walking symbolizes a journey and a destination, because it's time to end these divisive and pointless ballot measures."
This November, Arizona voters will once again vote on a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman. State law currently prohibits same sex marriage, but Arizona was the first state to defeat a discriminatory marriage amendment in 2006.
Sneed and her peers will walk 96 miles to symbolize the years that Arizona has been a state without equal protection for its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens. The group will make periodic stops to lead discussions at churches, city halls, and senior centers around the Valley. And to drink plenty of water.
The Right to Marry is supported by several local LGBT and allied organizations who are committed to defeating Prop 102 in the fall. Inspired and informed by the multicultural traditions of freedom marches, prayer-walking and pilgrimage, the Equality Walkers will follow this route:
Day 1: Sunday, August 10th - Surprise City Hall to Peoria City Hall
Day 2: Monday, August 11th - Peoria City Hall to Avondale City Hall
Day 3: Tuesday, August 12th - Avondale City Hall to Glendale City Hall
Day 4: Wednesday, August 13th - Glendale City Hall to Phoenix City Hall to Scottsdale City Hall
Day 5: Thursday, August 14th - Scottsdale City Hall to Mesa City Hall to Tempe City Hall
Day 6: Friday, August 15th - Tempe City Hall to State Capital
Day 7: Saturday, August 16th - campaign rally & picnic, Central Phoenix location TBD