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One wedding mid ceremony, one angry protester, and a half dozen straight couples in from out of town who just decided to join in on the action. Marching from the mall at Union Station to the Capitol and on, more than 200 teens and 20-somethings (and a few scattered seasoned protesters) demanded equal rights after staging a flash protest in Union Station's main lobby.
The flash protest commenced with the sound of a whistle -- all 200-some protesters froze in their tracks, some mid step, some mid wave, some holding a water bottle to their lips. Onlookers looked dumbfounded until the minute-long freeze was up, then the protesters quickly stepped to the front of the building, screaming, "What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? Now."
The exact location of the protest -- one of many events planned in conjunction with this weekend's National Equality March -- was viraled out via text, Facebook, and Twitter just an hour before. Groups of gays following GPS on iPhones and BlackBerries walked frantically through the National Mall looking to hook up with the bigger group. I joined up with (from right) Kelsey, A.J. (the lone 21-year-old of the bunch), Bobby, Andrew, Colton, and a friend they met at the protest as they made their way to Union Station.
"It took us about eight hours," Kelsey said of their drive from Knoxville, Tenn. "We left at a great time, so there was no traffic."
A.J. said they passed the time on the trip by rolling down the windows, cranking up the music, and sticking their heads out the sunroof.
The group of friends was clearly determined to come to Washington and said they knew several people their age who had made the trek from Tennessee and further.
Walking past a wedding that happened to be taking place on a
grassy hill just across from Union Station, A.J. screamed that his group
should go join them. All of his friends laughed, but kept walking,
focusing their energy on the "strength in numbers" approach the chants
"Black, white, gay, straight, we will not discriminate," "Equality for all," "Out of the closet and into the streets." The group changed up its chant often, and tourists and visitors to the National Mall took notice. The group stopped traffic, people, and stood in front of the Capitol building for five minutes, screaming -- any more, one organizer was told, and they could get arrested.
The group from Knoxville said this was one of many protests and events they plan to go to this weekend, and their enthusiasm for being a part of history is inspiring. All five have been plotting to find a way -- any way -- to get into the HRC dinner to meet the president. When ABC News stopped Kelsey, A.J., and Colton for a quick quote, Kelsey is quick to thank the cameraman "for coming out here and covering this."
They're energized, but they are also college students, after all, so a bit of fun isn't completely out of the question. "We're going to H&M now," A.J. said, and his friends laughed.
"I want to shop," Kelsey cracked. "But we'll definitely be marching tomorrow."