August 9, 2012 | by Steve Charing
Shining a light on equality
gay marriage, same-sex marriage, gay news, Washington Blade

Volunteers are holding lighted panels at dusk on highway overpasses and bridges that contain messages promoting marriage equality. (Photo by Mike Bernard)

Mark Patro is leaving no stone unturned in the effort to defend the Civil Marriage Protection Act that is being challenged in November by a referendum. As president of the Baltimore County chapter of PFLAG, he is working hard to gain the support of allies and clergy. Using his own initiative, Patro sought training and then trained others on how to register voters. He has worked farmers’ markets and festivals to gather pledges to line up volunteers and voters for marriage equality.

And recently Patro launched a new project called Light Brigade Maryland. Inspired by a similar effort (Overpass Light Brigade) in Wisconsin to recall Gov. Scott Walker this spring, volunteers hold lighted panels at dusk on highway overpasses and bridges that contain messages promoting marriage equality. The messages will vary but the goal is to bring attention to the need to vote in favor of the Civil Marriage Protection Act.

“My first exposure to the Overpass Light Brigade (overpasslightbrigade.org) was a short segment on one of MSNBC’s evening shows at the end of May or early June, just before Scott Walker’s recall election,” Patro told the Blade. “I was excited about the visual aspect of their presentation.”

His educational background is in visual arts, so the visual aspect appealed to him. “I did an Internet search and contacted them to ask about how to make the panels,” Patro explained.

Patro recognized that many people want to do something to help with the referendum battle, and this project appears to meet that desire.  “They don’t all feel like they fit into prescribed jobs set up by the larger bureaucratic organizations. Most of them are worker-bee/assignment style organizations and some folks just respond better to more freelance-like or guerilla-activist roles. We hope using this method will motivate an additional group of people who will bring currently untapped energy to the effort of protecting the Civil Marriage Protection Act and keep it law.”

Patro said this project will help stir up excitement to at least match the passion by the opposition. “The vote will be close and we could lose if we sit back and do nothing. The opposition will be running to the voting booth. We need to out-work them.”

To find out more, visit the Light Brigade Maryland Facebook page.

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