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Protesters rally for labor equality, peace in honor of Women’s Day

Clad in pink, women from Greater Boston Code Pink rallied in front of the Massachusetts State House on Saturday to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, which is on Tuesday.

About 150 people gathered in Beaconp Hill chanting “bring our war dollars home,” while waving pink parasols.

The rally centered around labor, equality and peace, said Ridgely Fuller, a Code Pink volunteer from Waltham.

Fuller read a letter, written and signed by Code Pink members, that urged Gov. Deval Patrick to cut military spending.

Every billion dollars spent on the military could create substantially more jobs within the U.S. economy if it was spent on clean energy, health care or education, Fuller said in the letter, quoting a study conducted by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

The people who attended the rally said they were there to protest the Title X Family Planning Program cut, the Evidence-Based Teen Pregnancy Initiative cut, the Section 811 proposed program cuts and more for the 2011 fiscal year.

“Dig this, they wanna [sic] cut family planning, Title X, a hundred percent, and teen pregnancy prevention grants cut entirely,” said Trish Gallagher, a Code Pink member and Dorchester resident.

“Housing for persons with disabilities, they can live on the street, 70 percent cut,” Gallagher said, referring to the Section 811 proposed program cuts. “Where are our people supposed to live?”

Minister Lara Hoke , a member of Veterans for Peace, which co-sponsored the rally, spoke out against war funding.

“At some point, as much as it was engrained in me not to speak out in public against war, you reach the point where sparing feelings isn’t as important as sparing lives,” said Hoke, an Andover resident.

“The people who are going to be hurt the most by the proposed budget cuts are the most vulnerable people — the working poor, low-income, elderly people and women, disproportionally hurt by the budget cuts,” Hoke continued. “What else is new, right?”

Protesters stand behind Massachusetts State Rep. James O’Day and State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, who proposed a bill entitled “An Act to Invest in Our Communities.”

People need to be taxed more fairly and the people who can afford it will hopefully pay more, said Virginia Pratt, a resident of Jamaica Plain and an activist with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, another co-sponsor of the event.

Some of those who attended were young activists who came to the rally to celebrate and to promote Code Pink’s anti-war campaign.

“I came to the rally for the combination of celebrating the movement against feminism and standing up against war,” said Ebenezer Marsh, a recent high-school graduate and activist from Concord.

“I think [the rally] is inspirational. I think that it’s important that women come out here and say that we’re tired of budget cuts aimed at those who have the least representation in our society,” said Amber Kornreich, a Brandeis University junior.

Everyone knows somebody who is helped by and needs these programs that are being cut because of excessive war spending, said Naomi Bloch, a Brandeis freshman.

The rally ended with a march through the Boston Common and the Public Garden, with protesters banging pots along the way.

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