Homosexual Marriage Supporters Protest California Ban Across Nation

Gay rights supporters waving rainbow colors marched, chanted and danced
in cities coast to coast Saturday to protest the vote that banned gay
marriage in California and to urge supporters not to quit the fight for
the right to wed.

Crowds gathered near public buildings in cities large and small,
including Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and Fargo, to vent their
frustrations, celebrate gay relationships and renew calls for change.

”Civil
marriages are a civil right, and we’re going to keep fighting until we
get the rights we deserve as American citizens,” said Karen Amico, one
of several hundred protesters in Philadelphia, holding up a sign
reading ”Don’t Spread H8”.

”We are the American family, we
live next door to you, we teach your children, we take care of your
elderly,” said Heather Baker a special education teacher from Boston
who addressed the crowd at Boston’s City Hall Plaza. ”We need equal
rights across the country.”

Connecticut, which began same-sex
weddings this past week, and Massachusetts are the only two states that
allow gay marriage. The other 48 states do not, and 30 of them have
taken the extra step of approving constitutional amendments. A few
states allow civil unions or domestic partnerships that grant some
rights of marriage.

Protests following the vote on Proposition 8
in California, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman,
have sometimes been angry and even violent, and demonstrators have
targeted faiths that supported the ban, including the Mormon church.

However,
representatives of Join the Impact, which organized Saturday’s
demonstrations, asked supporters to be respectful and refrain from
attacking other groups during the rallies.

Seattle blogger Amy
Balliett, who started the planning for the protests when she set up a
Web page three days after the California vote, said persuasion is
impossible without civility.

”If we can move anybody past anger and have a respectful conversation, then you can plant the seed of change,” she said.

Balliett
said supporters in 300 cities in the U.S. and other countries were
holding marches, and she estimated 1 million people would participate,
based on responses at the Web sites her group set up.

”We need to show the world when one thing happens to one of us, it happens to all of us,” she said.

The
protests were widely reported to be peaceful, and the mood in Boston
was generally upbeat, with attendees dancing to the song ”Respect.”
Signs cast the fight for gay marriage as the new civil rights movement,
including one that read ”Gay is the new black.”

But anger over the ban and its backers was evident at the protests.

One sign in Chicago, where several thousand people gathered, read: ”Catholic Fascists Stay Out of Politics.”

”I just found out that my state doesn’t really think I’m a person,” said Rose Aplustill, 21, a Boston University student from Los Osos, Calif., who was one of thousands at the Boston rally.

In
San Francisco, demonstrators took shots at some religious groups that
supported the ban, including a sign aimed at the Mormon church and its
abandoned practice of polygamy that read: ”You have three wives; I want one husband.”

Chris
Norberg, who married his partner in June, also referred to the racial
divisions that arose after exit polls found that majorities of blacks
and Hispanics supported the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

”They voted against us,” Norberg said.

In
Salt Lake City, where demonstrators gathered just blocks from the
headquarters of the Mormon church, one sign pictured the city’s temple
with a line adapted from former Republican vice president candidate Sarah Palin: ”I can see discrimination from my house.”

More
than 500 demonstrators in Washington marched from the U.S. Capitol
through the city carrying signs and chanting ”One, two, three, four,
love is what we’re fighting for!”

A public plaza at the foot of
New York’s Brooklyn Bridge was packed by a cheering crowd of thousands,
including people who waved rainbow flags and wore pink buttons that
said ”I do.”

Protests were low-key in North Dakota, where people lined a bridge in Fargo carrying signs and flags.

Mike
Bernard, who was in the crowd of hundreds at City Hall in Baltimore,
said Proposition 8 could end up being a good thing for gay rights
advocates.

”It was a swift kick in the rear end,” he said.

In
Los Angeles, protesters gathered near City Hall before marching through
downtown. Police said 10,000 to 12,000 people demonstrated.

Supporters of traditional marriage said the rallies may have generated publicity but ultimately made no difference.

”They
had everything in the world going for them this year, and they couldn’t
win,” said Frank Schubert, co-manager of the Yes on 8 campaign in
California. ”I don’t think they’re going to be any more successful in
2010 or 2012.”

In Chicago, Keith Smith, 42, a postal worker, and
his partner, Terry Romo, 34, a Wal-Mart store manager, had photos of a
commitment ceremony they held, though gay marriage is not legal in
Illinois.

”We’re not going to wait for no law,” Smith said. ”But time’s going to be on our side and it’s going to change.”

Source: New York Times

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