Rainbow Alliance to host annual celebration dinner

"

The Rainbow Alliance will be having its annual celebration dinner as new legislation about same-sex marriage comes to the forefront in several states.

"

The annual dinner, which is called the Equality Banquet after being known as the Allies Banquet in previous years, is in its fourth year. The name change is due to the desire to include everyone in the evening.

"

"This year we geared it toward everybody, where allies, GLBT people are all in one category. So we called it the Equality Banquet so we weren’t pinning out one section or one group over the other," said Michael Johnson, president of the Rainbow Alliance.

"

The event, which is open to the public, will feature a sit-down dinner in the Forum Gallery Restaurant in Hewitt Union and a guest speaker. In addition, awards will be given as well as "rainbow tassels" to graduating seniors. According to Johnson, the event is "a formal get-together but it’s informal enough to where people feel comfortable coming."

"

The theme for the evening will be "equality and justice, for all."

"

"(The theme) was kind of apropos to what’s going on this year in the GLBT community. We’re moving further for equality and justice" Johnson said. Johnson also mentions workplace equality is improving. The Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index had to move from 100 companies to 150 because so many of them were coming up to par with their standards.

"

According to the HRC website, "The HRC Foundation’s CEI report, released each fall, provides an in-depth analysis and rating of large U.S. employers and their policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees."

"

At the moment, there is no guest speaker for the event. Originally, it was going to be a member of the Empire State Pride Agenda, but because of their own Equality and Justice Day on April 28, they could not attend. Despite the uncertainty of who the speaker will be, Johnson knows that the person will be speaking about the recent legislation brought forward by Gov. David Paterson on same-sex marriage.

"

In regards to the legislation, Johnson is happy about Paterson’s decision, but, at the same time, he believes that the current budget situation in New York needs to be taken care of first. "Not to say social justice should never be put on the back burner, but we may not have a state to enjoy that equality if we don’t get it set straight" Johnson said, who is a political science major, with a minor in public policy. Johnson also mentioned that at a recent Rainbow Alliance meeting, many of the members were happy with Paterson’s decision.

"

Johnson realizes the odd timing of Paterson’s announcement. "It was awfully random of him. I think it was a very political move but at the same time I think, putting politics aside, he really believes that marriage is an equal right rather than an equal privilege."

"

As for the legislation allowing marriage equality in Iowa and Vermont, "I think it’s a step in the right direction." Johnson was shocked with everyone else about Iowa’s decision, since it’s from an area that is usually conservative.

"

Johnson hopes that the dinner will grow in the coming years. Currently, they have to cap the dinner at 50 guests because of budget and space constraints. He also mentioned that the Rainbow Alliance has received commitments from several deans on campus.

"

The Equality Banquet is one of the organization’s biggest events in the spring. The Rainbow Alliance also had a dance and hosted the National Day of Silence during the semester.

"

The Equality Banquet will be on April 30 from 6-8 p.m. Tickets cost $10 and are available at the Campus Center Box Office. Financial assistance is available to help cover the cost of the ticket. Tickets will also be available until the day of the dinner.