“It was great,” Lorna Bracewell, a gay activist with Join the Impact Florida, said about a rally and march held Monday in support of three pro-gay bills currently being debated in the Florida Legislature.

About 1,000 people stood under the threat of rain outside the Capitol building chanting familiar gay activist slogans such as “What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? Now!” and “Gay, straight, black, white; marriage is a civil right!”

Students from Florida State University and young people made up the bulk of the crowd. Several hundred students marched about three-quarters of a mile from the FSU campus to the Capitol grounds chanting “GLBT you can't take my rights from me!”

The memory of slain gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk lingered in the air as his nephew Stuart Milk took the podium. Milk joked that his uncle, known to be melodramatic, was manipulating the weather to enhance the drama of the event.

“[Stuart Milk] got to this moment when he was sharing a personal memory of Uncle Harvey, how he used to say 'Diversity is the medicine the world needs to cure its ills', and as he was saying this the sun broke through,” Bracewell told On Top Magazine. “It was inspiring, but so cheesy. Like if it happened in a movie we would all roll our eyes and groan.”

Also speaking was Martin Gill, the forty-seven-year-old man at the center of Florida's gay adoption ban. Late last year, a Miami-Dade circuit court judge said the ban was “unconstitutional” and had “no rational basis” in her 53-page order that allows Gill and his partner to legally adopt the 4- and 8-year-old half brothers they have raised since 2004. The state appealed the ruling and it appears the Florida Supreme Court will likely decide the matter.

“It doesn't matter how good a parent you are, if you're gay or lesbian, you cannot be considered for adoption in this state,” said Gill. “That is shameful.”

Senator Nan Rich, a Democrat from Weston, has introduced a bill that would repeal the 1977 prohibition and another that would grant judges the discretion to determine adoptions solely on “the best interests” of the child.

The rally, called “Rally in Tally,” was organized by Equality Florida with the goal of shoring up support for three bills before the Legislature: A domestic partnership bill introduced by Democratic Senator Eleanor Sobel, Senator Rich's gay adoption bills, and a gay and lesbian protections bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the classes of people protected in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations in the state.

Bracewell credited social networking sites such as Facebook for the event's large turnout. And she said Join the Impact Florida is currently working on a campaign that targets donors of the yes-to-marriage campaign, the November 4 measure that banned gay marriage in the state, with a reminder postcard.

“The postcard will have a very simply graphic on it and a quote from scripture,” Bracewell said, adding that the group had not settled on the specific text.

“It is to remind them that that donation they made and that support they gave affected the lives of real people,” she added.

Of the three bills, gay activists say the gay protections bill holds the most promise.

On the Net: Join the Impact Florida is at www.jointheimpact.wetpaint.com.