The Prop 8 Oral Arguments on March 5, 2009: The “peaceful” rally, as stated by most of the local news stations, was a very different experience for me. After watching channel 2, 4, 5 and 7 news I couldn’t believe some of the stories they chose NOT to cover.
For example, how about the bus loads of Ukrainians that were brought in from Sacramento with massive “Yes on 8″ signs and scripts/instructions that they were given to say to anyone that would engage in a light debate. What i found most interesting about this group was that they mostly engaged with the young teens/adults in the crowds. When i approached the older men (40-60 age range) with questions of my own, i literally got NO RESPONSE. I found it strange at first, but then realized that they really didn’t have any depth of knowledge on the issue and so anything outside of their script was not something they were prepared for. The young men in that group were much more engaging but all they could say was hateful things about fags and that gay people were going to hell. They also then kindly reminded me that if i was gay i could not have children. They also insisted they would never have fags as kids because, well, it wouldn’t be allowed. I found this group fascinating because it took so little to get 100 of them together with big signs and scripts and have such a presence at this rally. The only thing unclear to me was if this group of young men and a sprinkling of adults had been paid to be there. I couldn’t get that out of them. They even were organized to block the views of those talking on the courthouse steps with their massive signs while the rest of us with small “I DO” signs stood behind. Brilliant!
I just wondered why the ”No on 8″ side hadn’t organized as well. We have more then a handful of organizations that we are all pouring our money into and yet, there was no clear presence of any of them. Why? I’ll leave that topic for another blog post.
The next “Yes on 8″ group was church organized. They had red shirts that said something like, “Marriage = 1 Man + 1 Woman” along with small white tabloid size signs. They handed out to anyone interested the red T-shirts and the signs - another smart move since the shirts were so loud. This group was about half the size of the first group. They were a bit more respectful, also engaging in dialogue with the opposing side, but with some emotion in the conversation unlike the above more organized (potentially paid for) group.
Lastly, there were the normal, unorganized group of “Yes on 8″ individuals that were few and far between. They clearly put themselves in the middle of the organized group for safety reasons, but stood quietly with their signs.
The debates were not always respectful, there was a lot of yelling, cursing, and even physical contact with many of these people. The police got involved in at least 5 altercations that i was also involved in. I was hit, and hit a few people back. Signs were ripped out of peoples hands, and the emotions were beyond boiling point for most of the day.
Amazing that the Mormons were not visibly present, unless they actually were indirectly via the organized group…
Below are some of the faces of those people along with their messages:
Now, on the “No on 8″ side it was an eclectic group of unorganized individuals that more than tripled the presence of the “Yes on 8″ groups, but because of the lack of one voice, it appears to be much smaller of a group. The one visual that stands out for me during this entire day was a single woman with her “I Want the Freedom to Marry” sign, standing in the center of the “Yes on 8″ crowd, often standing with silent tears running down her face as individuals were yelling at her. She was the most beautiful presence at that rally.
There were also the young kids from King Middle School in Berkeley that were as strong and bold as any seasoned activist. They were heard and felt throughout the rally as they yelled at the “Yes on 8″ groups with a passion that was so refreshing to see.