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Amy Vesper: New Mexico: Civil Rights Activism.

At 23, Amy Vesper has already spent several years actively working for LGBT civil rights and inclusion. Ever the tomboy--preferring to play sports rather than make-believe--Vesper grew up with endless taunts, and while it was no fun then, the bullying she endured inspired her to join the fight for social justice, to improve the lives of others. "Without the bullying, I would not have such a high level of intolerance for injustice," she says. "It definitely motivated me to take a stand and fight for what is right."

For the past two years, Vesper has served on the board of GetEQUAL New Mexico. As the outreach coordinator, she builds relationships with other organizations and plans events and political actions.

At one point, she met with the state's highest-ranking elected official, Governor Susana Martinez, to talk with her about LGBT rights and same-sex marriage in New Mexico. She co-founded, and now leads, a coalition of student organizations at the University of New Mexico called the UNM Social Justice League, and she has worked tirelessly to motivate the university to remove Chick-fil-A from the UNM campus.

Activism, says Vesper, is exciting and challenging, but also extremely rewarding. When asked why she takes on these challenges, why she stays the course, Vesper explains, "For every time a kid has been called a faggot, for every time a boy who is gay got beaten up by a group of other boys, for every time a girl has been called a dyke, for every time an LGBT person was fired from work because of sexual orientation or gender identity, for every time a loving same-sex couple was told no when applying for a marriage license."

With the recent judicial wins for the community, she has seen some progress, but Vesper is under no illusions, noting the many obstacles that still stand in the way. "In 29 states, it is still legal for someone to be fired based solely on sexual orientation, and DOMA only ceases to identify marriage as between one man and one woman, but it doesn't grant same-sex marriage to couples who live in states that don't grant same-sex marriage licenses," she says. "So we do need to continue pushing for full LGBT equality."

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Title Annotation:OUT IN FRONT
Author:Kay, Sherly
Publication:Curve
Date:Dec 1, 2013
Words:382
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