Gay rights group plans Lincoln trip

2011-07-26T21:00:00Z 2011-07-28T21:35:03Z Gay rights group plans Lincoln tripBy MITCH SMITH / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

A bus tour supporting gay rights will stop at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln next month as part of a nationwide effort to visit places where legal rights for gay people are limited.

The Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights organization, will be in Lincoln on Aug. 20-21 during UNL's Big Red Welcome event for new students. HRC Vice President Fred Sainz said his group chose Nebraska because gay people face obstacles in adoption, marriage and the workplace.

While public support for gay rights is growing, Sainz said, that progress is not yet reflected in Nebraska law.

"There is no doubt that Nebraska is a great place to live," he said. "But because of the lack of legal protections, that does present a number of obstacles for gay and lesbian Nebraskans."

A recent HRC poll showed a slight majority of Americans supported gay marriage, but that number drops to 43 percent in the Midwest and South.

But a gay couple that plans to marry in Iowa, the only Midwest state where gay marriage is legal, won the Journal Star's dream wedding contest in an online vote this month. That points to progress, Sainz said.

Sainz hopes to reach out to people on the tour, no matter where they stand on gay issues.

"There's no deal to be closed here," he said. "I think that's kind of the beauty of this tour. This is a public education campaign. We'll talk to anybody."

The nearly two-month bus trip kicks off next month in Utah, then winds its way through the Midwest and South. The bus will be parked outside UNL's Nebraska Union the evening of Aug. 20 and outside Memorial Stadium the next day before heading to Lawrence, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo.

Reach Mitch Smith at 402-473-2655 or msmith@journalstar.com.

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