At 10 a.m. on May 26, 2009, the California Supreme Court upheld the legality of Proposition 8, an amendment to the state constitution passed by 52.24% of the voters in 2008 which states, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
After it passed, the proposition was immediately challenged in court by gay marriage proponents, and six months later the California Supreme Court, in a lopsided 6-1 decision, issued a long-awaited ruling which affirmed that the voters had the right to amend the constitution. In anger, gay marriage supporters held protest rallies around the state (and around the country as well), the largest being in San Francisco, the epicenter of the gay rights movement. This page is a report on that rally.
The court actually issued a split decision, because at the same time, it affirmed the permanence and legality of all those same-sex marriages that had been performed in California during that brief period when it was legal. But this minor victory was overshadowed by the pre-emptive banning of all future same-sex marriages.
That is, at least until 2010, when gay marriage proponents have already promised a new proposition re-amending the state constitution to allow same-sex marriages. And if that fails, in 2012, and again in 2014, and so on until it finally passes. At which point, gay marriage opponents have promised a re-run of Proposition 8...and back and forth until the end of time, or until California voters out of sheer weariness vote to ban marriage altogether, gay or straight.
But we may not need to wait that long, because a federal lawsuit has already been filed seeking not only to overturn Proposition 8 in the United States Supreme Court but also thereby to make gay marriage legal nationwide, permanently.
One last note: I myself have no problem with the concept of gay marriage, and voted "No" on Prop. 8 -- which means that for the first time in quite a while, I agreed with the protesters I was covering. At least in theory. Because even though I personally am OK with gay marriage, I value the principles of democracy even more, and if the will of the people is to amend the state constitution, then that is their right -- and I feel it would have set a terrible precedent to throw out the results of a statewide election just because the losing side didn't like the results. Even if I was on that losing side. So, although I would have preferred that Prop. 8 lost, I accept the reality that it passed, and think it's an exercise in pointlessness to hold an election rally after the election is long over and decided.
But so much for politics. Let's get to the pictures!
Many of the messages accused Proposition 8 voters of "intolerance," "hate" (or "H8" as it was often spelled) and of being religious fundamentalists. Luckily for us, intolerance is this man's bitch, so we can rest easy, secure in the knowledge that he has things under control.
This sign summarized the entire rally: Fuck 8. Since the election was long over, and the state Supreme Court had already ruled, there was nothing left to advocate, nothing left to do -- except vent rage at losing. Fuck! 8! Grrrrrr!
Y'know, I can't believe it either. Perhaps it's time to do something a little less futile?
Protesting: The best way to undermine your own message.
In fact, a great many of the signs and protesters were, in my opinion, counter-productive. For example, this woman is "Too gay to pay taxes." In what way does it help the cause of gay marriage to announce that you plan to cheat on your taxes as a form of protest?
If the goal is to make gay marriage appear acceptable to the mainstream, is it really a good strategy to dress in full tranny regalia at the rally?
And is it wise to wear a ball-gag and nun's habit to show how you're "just like everyone else"?
Note to self: Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to display X-rated gay porn alongside my "No on 8" buttons.
The Mormon Church supported Prop. 8, and donated money to its campaign. And everyone knows that the best way to endear yourself to an opponent and convert them to your position is to say "kiss my ass." Works every time!
When the march passed by a Marriott hotel, some of the protesters began yelling, "Marriott's owned by Mormons!" The point being, you should boycott Marriott, since Mormons are anti-gay marriage.
After viewing this sign, many Mormons realized the error of their ways and became supporters of same-sex marriage.
Other forms of sharia are presumably OK.
Finally, someone had an effective protest message.
The crowd first gathered at San Francisco's City Hall. Various celebrities gave speeches, but I could neither see nor hear them (not that I particularly care what celebrities have to say anyway).
By 6pm the rally had swelled to thousands of people. I'm no good at estimating crowd sizes, so I'm not going to even venture a guess as to the exact number.
Later, we all went on a march through the city. Rumors had swirled ahead of time of a possible riot in the works, but hundreds of police escorted the march every step of the way, putting the kibosh on any planned extra-legal antics.
(Earlier in the day, shortly after the ruling was announced, there was a sit-down rally at which many people were arrested for blocking traffic.)
Gay is the new Black?
The primary legal and social argument at the rally was to draw a close comparison between the civil rights movement of the '50s and the gay marriage movement of today; or, as this sign (and many similar signs) put it,
"Gay is the new Black!"
The goal is to position gay-marriage advocates as the defenders of civil rights, and to drag race into the discussion -- the implication being, the same type of racist bigots who opposed civil rights for Blacks 50 years ago are now opposing marriages for gays.
Everywhere I turned, the same comparison was being made, either overtly, or implied. Or, in this case, sarcastic.
But hold on a minute. One of the main points of the civil rights movement was to guarantee that Black people have the right to vote, to get rid of Jim Crow laws which denied Blacks participation in the election process.
So, which side in this argument is trying to deny Black people the right to vote? When you consider that Black Californians overwhelmingly voted in favor of Proposition 8 (70% Yes vs. 30% No), not to mention that Hispanics also voted to ban gay marriage, whereas only white voters (by a narrow margin) voted against Prop. 8, one reaches a devastating conclusion: The white people at this rally are now trying to take away from minorities the power to vote. One could just as validly reverse the protesters' narrative and say that white Californians didn't like how the minorities voted, so the whites are trying to cancel the election and get their way by any means possible -- which entails negating the votes of Blacks and Hispanics. (Notice how 99% of the protest participants depicted in these pictures are white.)
Of course, the gay marriage post-election advocates don't like this narrative. Not one bit. And although I myself voted against Prop. 8, I am not joining in the move to have the election overturned -- which is why I distinguish "gay marriage post-election advocates" and "people at the protest" from gay marriage supporters in general.
I tagged along and eavesdropped on other reporters interviewing passersby; while most of the white interviewees were in favor of gay marriage, whenever a reporter interviewed a Black or Hispanic onlooker, most were unapologetic in their opposition to gay marriage. Which confirms the findings of the opinion polls published after the election.
This video shows another good example of the dynamic: An Hispanic man passing by on a bicycle found himself caught in the rally, and when it was revealed that he opposed same-sex marriages, he got into a ferocious argument with some white gay marriage supporters, who began screaming at him.
In the middle of the rally, I noticed this traffic divider which said: "STATE LAW: YIELD TO..." Is the divider trying to tell us something?
Communists co-opting the gay marriage movement?
Another significant aspect of the rally which I noticed is that communist and socialist groups of all types had moved in and were adopting new messages to appeal to gay marriage supporters.
Richard Becker, one of the leaders of the communist group ANSWER, personally handed out hundreds of pre-printed signs to protesters. (Sorry about the blurry picture.) Notice how ANSWER has created a new spin-off group, "Fight4Equality.org," to disguise their true nature and to lure in unsuspecting potential converts. A standard tactic used by far-left groups trying to co-opt new movements.
The Revolutionary Communist Party were on hand as well, joining in with the crowd's anti-religion sentiment by promoting a quote from their exiled leader Bob Avakian.
They moved up so that their huge banner dominated part of the rally. And once again, any attempt to "mainstream" the gay marriage movement is ruinously undermined by radical groups imposing extreme messages on the crowd. The oldest story in the book.
Other extremist groups joined the co-option by calling for "revolution" -- the exact word to turn off most voters.
Capitalism, blah blah blah, socialist revolution. Got the message.
And as if on cue, to confirm the worst suspicions of the average American, another socialist group announced that "Marriage is only the beginning."
This photo is for all those preachers who like to claim that gay marriage is the first step on the road to people marrying animals.... "Only the beginning" indeed!
After a few more rallies like this, I'd wager that gay marriage has no chance whatsoever in a 2010 statewide election.
At least one of the communists had a sense of humor!
The rest of photos pretty much speak for themselves, so I'll present them as a gallery with no captions. Sometimes, captions just get in the way!