|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 tirelessly 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 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 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 me. “I was excited about the visual aspect of their presentation.”His education 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. “I did some research and found a few local suppliers for corrugated plastic panels. These are usually used for disposable signs. I found some battery operated LED lights on eBay, and picked up some gorilla glue at the home improvement center.”
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 free-lance-like or gorilla-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 believes 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.”
Light Brigade Maryland will provide an opportunity for volunteers to do something small which will have a huge impact. To find out more, visit the Light Brigade Maryland Facebook page and click “Like.”