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Christian Association Executive Director Rev. Beverly Dale speaks about the civil rights of gays at the QPenn rally on Friday.[Ryan Jones/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

Kicking off its annual week of QPenn activities, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center brought a group of speakers together to support the LGBT community on Friday.

About 40 people congregated in Wynn Commons to listen to speeches by members of the University community in honor of Bisexual Gay Lesbian Transgender Awareness Days.

"The rally is here to galvanize the Penn community and to bring people together to renew common goals," event organizer and College junior Joshua Wickline said.

With the civil unions for gay couples making headlines this year, the speeches touched upon this issue in the wider context of civil rights.

"The queer movement really is the gay marriage movement," Wickline said.

College senior and member of the Excelano Project Carlos Gomez spoke out against President George W. Bush's initiative to amend the Constitution.

Bush has "been a force that has undone hundreds of years of legal and constitutional precedence ... . If we don't find a way to get him out of the White House, generations to come will judge our silence," Gomez said.

Others quoted Bible scripture in their speeches in support of civil rights for gays.

"I believe that God is doing something new ... . The old way of thinking and doing things is no longer acceptable," Executive Director of the Christian Association Rev. Beverly Dale said.

College senior and Chairman of the Undergraduate Assembly Jason Levy addressed the situation on Penn's campus.

"Sadly, Penn is not yet a place where homosexuals can be open about who they are and be sure that they will not face discrimination," Levy said.

He called on students to lead efforts for change.

"Just as youth stood at the vanguard of the Civil Rights Movement, we, too, must lead the way towards full equality for homosexuals," Levy said.

Other speakers included Nursing and Wharton freshman Erica Dhawan, English professor David Azzolina, Graduate School of Education student Dahlia Setiyawan, College sophomore and Excelano Project member Tracey Gilbert and University of Pennsylvania LGBT Alumni Association Co-Chairwoman Joan Lau.

Students said they were pleased with the variety of speakers.

"It's interesting to listen to people's perspectives," said Wojciech Jankowski, a doctoral student in the School of Medicine.

College and Engineering sophomore George Cooper said, "Some of the speeches were a little political, and I think that can be divisive rather than unifying."

Still, he noted, "they were very good speakers, and it was good to see that the support was there."

Engineering senior Steve MacCrory said the rally was a good way to start off the week of QPenn events.

"Ilike that there is a week of visibility so everyone knows we're here," he said. "It's good to have [the event] out here when everyone is eating lunch."

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