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Students Quick to Counter Antigay Protest

Students Quick to Counter Antigay Protest

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Students at Brown University in Providence, R.I., quickly put together an impromptu counterdemonstration when antigay protesters turned up on campus Wednesday.

About 15 volunteers with the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property's Student Action group appeared on the campus around 11 a.m., carrying a banner reading "God's Marriage = 1 Man & 1 Woman," reported the student newspaper, The Brown Daily Herald. Fresh from conducting actions in Maryland when a marriage equality bill was pending in that state's legislature, the group is protesting around Rhode Island, where lawmakers are considering a similar bill.

Brown students who saw the protesters alerted their fellow collegians through text messages and e-mail to attract a crowd of counterprotesters that numbered in the hundreds by noon. They carried makeshift signs, handed out rainbow pins, and chanted, "Hey ho, homophobia's got to go" and "What do we want? Equality!" They also attempted to argue with the antigay group, and at one point two female students kissed, drawing cheers from the pro-gay contingent.

The action by students was "tremendous," Aida Manduley, head chair of Brown's Queer Alliance, told the Herald. Students recognize the antigay protesters' free speech rights, she added, but "will not stay silent" in the face of hate speech. While gay activists at Brown are developing an official response, she said, her immediate reaction was that "it was a really great thing to have happen at Brown because of how we chose to respond."

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