I DO Love Buffalo

Event focuses on LGBT marriage equality in WNY

The Spectrum

On Monday, gay rights in the United States reached another milestone with the government expanding recognition of same-sex marriages in federal legal matters.

On March 13, Buffalo will also hit a marriage-equality milestone.

'I DO Love Buffalo,' a new organization, will host its business premiere and first event expo geared toward, but not limited to, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. It will take place at the historic Statler City from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The night's theme of 'What does marriage equality mean to you?' coincides with the recent change in legislation and society's changing view of same-sex marriage, according to Heather Bellini, who co-founded the organization. She said during the event, people in the Buffalo community can begin planning their own ceremonies and parties, as the definition of a modern "family" progresses.

Bellini and Soda Kuczkowski founded the organization.The group's aim is to showcase the great resources and businesses in the Western New York area, according to Bellini, the head chair of the event.

"I find it kind of silly that the people of the LGBT community have to fight for [marriage equality] because it's getting married to the people that you love - not committing a sin [or crime]," said Paris Canty, a junior psychology major and treasurer of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Alliance (LGBTA). "It's something that doesn't harm anybody ... two people getting married isn't going to cause an apocalypse or earthquake."

Though the event will focuson the local LGBT community, Bellini emphasized it is open to all. She said the organization is "very excited" to work with sponsors, volunteers and businesses who are supportive of the LGBT community.

Gabriel Cadalzo, a freshman undecided major, identifies as straight and is a member of the LGBTA junior e-board. He thinks gay rights are not emphasized enough, although America "is built on equality or equal opportunity."

"Not everyone has the same rights," Cadalzo said. "You should be allowed to get married to the person that you love but that's not the case with more than half the states."

He believes anything that can bring awareness to people to make them more knowledgeable of "the issues others are facing with oppression" is beneficial. LGBTA wants people to pay more attention to LGBT youth, who often experience bullying, leading to problems like drug abuse and suicide.

Canty agrees.

He believes gay rights tend to be forgotten, "especially in off-peak seasons" when there are no major issues being discussed or during Gay Awareness Month, which is in June. Events like 'I DO Love Buffalo' serve as a reminder.

The overall goal of the expo is to provide a "fresh outlook" for both consumers and vendors in the LGBT community, and to display any unique vision they might have when planning events while making full use of what Buffalo has to offer, Bellini said.

Tickets to 'I DO Love Buffalo' are priced at $8 per person or $14 per couple. More information on the event can be found on idolovebuffalo.com.

email: features@ubspectrum.com