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Posts for November, 2014

ACLU To Appeal Sixth Circuit Decision Straight to the U.S. Supreme Court

Jim Burroway

November 6th, 2014

Chase Strangio, staff attorney for the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project, has announced that they will bypass an en banc review and appeal today’s Sixth Circuit decision directly to the U.S. Supreme Court:

“This decision is an outlier that’s incompatible with the 50 other rulings that uphold fairness for all families, as well as with the Supreme Court’s decision to let marriage equality rulings stand in Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia. It is shameful and wrong that John Arthur’s death certificate may have to be revised to list him as single and erase his husband’s name as his surviving spouse. We believe it’s wholly unconstitutional to deny same sex couples and their families access to the rights and respect that all other families receive. We will be filing for Supreme Court review right away and hope that through this deeply disappointing ruling we will be able to bring a uniform rule of equality to the entire country.”

Meanwhile, this dissent of today’s decision, written by Sixth Circuit Judge Martha Daughtrey, caught my eye. She denounced the majority’s opinion which refused to recognize the judiciary’s responsibility for guaranteeing the rights of all Americans (PDF: 309KB/64 pages):

Today, my colleagues seem to have fallen prey to the misguided notion that the intent of the framers of the United States Constitution can be effectuated only by cleaving to the legislative will and ignoring and demonizing an independent judiciary. Of course, the framers presciently recognized that two of the three co-equal branches of government were representative in nature and necessarily would be guided by self-interest and the pull of popular opinion. To restrain those natural, human impulses, the framers crafted Article III to ensure that rights, liberties, and duties need not be held hostage by popular whims.

More than 20 years ago, when I took my oath of office to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, I solemnly swore to “administer justice without respect to persons,” to “do equal right to the poor and to the rich,” and to “faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me . . . under the Constitution and laws of the United States.” See 28 U.S.C. § 453. If we in the judiciary do not have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to right fundamental wrongs left excused by a majority of the electorate, our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams

She also wonders aloud:

These four cases from our sister circuits provide a rich mine of responses to every rationale raised by the defendants in the Sixth Circuit cases as a basis for excluding same-sex couples from contracting valid marriages. Indeed, it would seem unnecessary for this court to do more than cite those cases in affirming the district courts’ decisions in the six cases now before us. Because the correct result is so obvious, one is tempted to speculate that the majority has purposefully taken the contrary position to create the circuit split regarding the legality of same-sex marriage that could prompt a grant of certiorari by the Supreme Court and an end to the uncertainty of status and the interstate chaos that the current discrepancy in state laws threatens. Perhaps that is the case, but it does not relieve the dissenting member of the panel from the obligation of a rejoinder.

Sixth Circuit upholds anti-gay marriage bans

Timothy Kincaid

November 6th, 2014

marriage 2014

In a 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the state constitutional bans on marriage of the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. Writing for the majority, Judge Jeffrey Sutton said:

When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers. Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.

This determination ignores the fact that when animus in present, a minority cannot become the “hero of it’s own stories” as they lack the ability to win in the “customary political processes”. When confronting Goliath on the field of political battle, the only stone in David’s sling is that of judicial protection. Judge Sutton would have David face the giant with no stones at all.

This is, of course, not the end of the story.

It is likely that the plaintiffs will ask for an en banc review and, if they do not prevail in that venue, will appeal to the Supreme Court.

Another Marriage Ban Bites the Dust

Jim Burroway

July 1st, 2014

Kentucky!

A federal judge today ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marry in Kentucky.

“In America, even sincere and long-hold religious beliefs do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted,” U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II wrote to invalidate Kentucky’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

…Heyburn upheld the right to marry today, but put his ruling on hold pending a decision by a higher court. Heyburn rejected the only justification offered by lawyers for Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear — that traditional marriages contribute to a stable birth rate and the state’s long-term economic stability.

“These arguments are not those of serious people,” he said.

Judge Heyburn, who was appointed to the bench in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush on Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) recommendation, ruled that Kentucky’s ban violates the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Earlier this year, the same judge ruled that the state of Kentucky must recognize the validity of same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The full ruling is here. Judge Heyburn begins by observing the near-unanimity of prior court decisions in the wake of Windsor but explains why, unlike most other Federal judges, he chose not to rule on Due Process grounds:

Since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in United States v. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675 (2013), every federal court to consider state bans on same-sex marriage and recognition has declared them unconstitutional. Most of these courts have done so under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This Court’s opinion differs in that it does not determine whether Kentucky’s laws interfere with a fundamental right. The Court’s chief reason for declining to do so is its careful reading of Windsor, which suggests that the Supreme Court is unwilling and unlikely to view the right Plaintiffs seek to exercise as fundamental under the Constitution.

He explains that a bit further

Although many courts have discussed the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses in tandem, ultimately, this Court sees this case as more clearly about the imposition of a classification than about the contours of a due process right. The constitutional question is whether a state can lawfully exclude a certain class of individuals, i.e. homosexual persons, from the status and dignity of marriage. The Court will resolve Plaintiffs’ claims solely on equal protection grounds.

Judge Heyburn acknowledged that “the most difficult part of the equal protection analysis here is determining the proper standard of review.” For heightened scrutiny, which places to burden of proof on the state to show that its action against a suspect class is narrowly tailored to further a legitimate government interest. If the action interferes with a fundemantal right, then gay people qualify as a suspect class, then strict scrutiny applies. But if gay people are simply being singled out for special treatment for other reasons, then they may qualify for quasi-suspect class requiring heghtened scrutiny. While Loving v. Virgina and other court cases identified marriage as a fundamental right, Judge Heyburn found that when the U.S. Supreme Court had the opportunity to extend that fundamental right to gay people in Windsor, it decliend to do so:

If the inquiry here is viewed as a contours-of-the-right question, holding that the fundamental right to marry encompasses same-sex marriage would be a dramatic step that the Supreme Court has not yet indicated a willingness to take. Further, it is a step that is unnecessary to the ultimate result in this action. Given the current posture of relevant constitutional jurisprudence, this Court finds caution here a more appropriate approach to avoid overreaching in its own constitutional analysis.

He did however rule that gay people constitute a quasi-suspect class, based on four factors identified by the Supreme Court: 1) historical discrimination, 2) ability to contribute to society, 3) immutable defining characteristics, and 4) politiacl powerlessness.

Historical discrimination against homosexual persons is readily apparent and cannot reasonably be disputed. Further, the Court cannot think of any reason why homosexuality would affect a person’s ability to contribute to society. No court has concluded otherwise. The remaining two factors, immutability and political powerlessness, are slightly less straightforward.

As to immutability, the relevant inquiry is not whether a person could, in fact, change a characteristic, but rather whether the characteristic is so integral to a person’s identity that it would be inappropriate to require her to change it to avoid discrimination. Accord Wolf, 2014 WL 2558444, at *28; see also Griego v. Oliver, 2014-NMSC-003, 316 P.3d 865, 884 (N.M. 2013). For example, strictly speaking, a person can change her citizenship, religion, and even gender. Legislative classifications based on these characteristics nevertheless receive heightened scrutiny because, even though they are in a sense subject to choice, no one should be forced to disavow or change them. That is, these characteristics are “an integral part of human freedom” entitled to constitutional protection, as is sexual expression. Lawrence, 539 U.S. at 577. …

Finally, the Court finds that homosexual persons are “politically powerless” within the constitutional meaning of this phrase. In discussing this factor, the Second Circuit noted: “The question is not whether homosexuals have achieved political influence and success over the years; they clearly have. The question is whether they have the strength to politically protect themselves from wrongful discrimination.” Windsor, 699 F.3d at 184. Indeed, if the standard were whether a given minority group had achieved any political successes over the years, virtually no group would qualify as a suspect or quasi-suspect class. A more effective inquiry looks to the vulnerability of a class in the political process due to its size or political or cultural history. See Wolf, 2014 WL 2558444, at *29. Under this inquiry, Kentucky’s laws against homosexual persons are “Exhibit A” of this powerlessness.

With gay people identified as a quasi-suspect class, Judge Heyburn ruled that the state of Kentucky was burdened with proving that its same-sex marriage ban is substantially related to an important governmental objective. And here’s where we get to the really juicy part, because Judge Heyburn then went on to say that Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage would not even stand up to any level of scrutiny. “Rational basis review, while deferential, is not ‘toothless,’” Heyburn noted, before tearing into the state’s “illogical and even bewildering” attempts to justify Kentucky’s marriage ban:

The Court will begin with Defendant’s only asserted justification for Kentucky’s laws prohibiting same-sex marriage: “encouraging, promoting, and supporting the formation of relationships that have the natural ability to procreate.” Perhaps recognizing that procreation- based arguments have not succeeded in this Court, see Bourke, 2014 WL 556729, at *8, nor any other court post-Windsor, Defendant adds a disingenuous twist to the argument: traditional marriages contribute to a stable birth rate which, in turn, ensures the state’s long-term economic stability.

These arguments are not those of serious people. Though it seems almost unnecessary to explain, here are the reasons why. Even assuming the state has a legitimate interest in promoting procreation, the Court fails to see, and Defendant never explains, how the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage has any effect whatsoever on procreation among heterosexual spouses. Excluding same-sex couples from marriage does not change the number of heterosexual couples who choose to get married, the number who choose to have children, or the number of children they have. See Bishop v. United States ex rel. Holder, 962 F. Supp. 2d 1252, 1291 (N.D. Okla. 2014) (“Marriage is incentivized for naturally procreative couples to precisely the same extent regardless of whether same-sex couples (or other non- procreative couples) are included.”). The Court finds no rational relation between the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the Commonwealth’s asserted interest in promoting naturally procreative marriages.

The state’s attempts to connect the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage to its interest in economic stability and in “ensuring humanity’s continued existence” are at best illogical and even bewildering. These arguments fail for the precise reasons that Defendant’s procreation argument fails.

Numerous courts have repeatedly debunked all other reasons for enacting such laws. The Court can think of no other conceivable legitimate reason for Kentucky’s laws excluding same-sex couples from marriage.

The State tried to anticipate one anti-gay argument that courts elsewhere have slapped down by asserting that just because oppposite-sex couples may not be able to procreate or may chose not to, doesn’t mean that it can’t deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples because they can’t procreate. Judge Heyburn agreed that this inconsistency doesn’t automatically fail a rational-basis rule. “However, that Kentucky’s laws do not deny licenses to other non- procreative couples reveals the true hypocrisy of the procreation-based argument,” he countered.

More importantly, the imperfect line-drawing argument assumes incorrectly that the Court bases its ruling on a comparison between same-sex couples and other non-procreative couples. On the contrary, this Court bases its ruling primarily upon the utter lack of logical relation between the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriages and any conceivable legitimate state interest. Any relationship between Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage and its interest in procreation and long-term economic stability “is so attenuated as to render the distinction arbitrary or irrational.” City of Cleburne, 473 U.S. at 446.

Judge Heybourn concluded his ruling by noting both reaction to his earlier ruling requiring Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriage performed outside the state and the evolving legal landscape since his earlier decision:

Since this Court’s Bourke opinion, the legal landscape of same-sex marriage rights across the country has evolved considerably, with eight additional federal district courts and one circuit court invalidating state constitutional provisions and statutes that denied same-sex couples the right to marry. …With this opinion, this Court joins their company.

Sometimes, by upholding equal rights for a few, courts necessarily must require others to forebear some prior conduct or restrain some personal instinct. Here, that would not seem to be the case. Assuring equal protection for same-sex couples does not diminish the freedom of others to any degree. Thus, same-sex couples’ right to marry seems to be a uniquely “free” constitutional right. Hopefully, even those opposed to or uncertain about same-sex marriage will see it that way in the future.

The Court’s holding today is consistent with Bourke, although it requires different relief. The ability to marry in one’s state is arguably much more meaningful, to those on both sides of the debate, than the recognition of a marriage performed in another jurisdiction. But it is for that very reason that the Court is all the more confident in its ruling today.

Final Order on Kentucky’s Recognition of Out-Of-State Marriages Expected Today (UpdateD)

Jim Burroway

February 27th, 2014

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports:

A federal judge said Wednesday afternoon that he would issue a final order within 24 hours requiring Kentucky to immediately recognize same-sex marriages performed outside the state.

…In response, lawyers for the attorney general’s office told U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II at a hearing that the state would “very promptly” decide whether to appeal the order.Heyburn told lawyers that his final order will not include a stay postponing it from taking effect. “There could be some confusion” among Kentuckians who quickly seek legal benefits stemming from their same-sex marriages, such as joint tax-filing status, if the state appeals 30 days later and delays the implementation of the order or throws its future into question, Heyburn cautioned.

The named defendants in the lawsuit, Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway, are both Democrats. Neither of them mounted a defense of the state’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from out of state. Judge Heyburn struck down Kentucky’s prohibition against recognizing out-of-state marriages two weeks ago.

Update: A clarification is in order: “Attorneys for the state did not introduce evidence against same-sex marriage while the suit was being argued, limiting the case to issues of law,” so says the Lexington Herald-Leader. As expected, the order came down today and out-of-state marriages are legal — for now:

However, Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway, who defended the same-sex marriage ban in court, have 30 days to appeal. And hours before Heyburn handed down his order, Conway’s office filed a motion asking Heyburn for a “stay,” a 90-day delay in implementing the ruling.

“This will give defendants time to determine if they will appeal the order, and the executive branch time to determine what actions must be taken to implement this court’s order if no appeal is taken,” Clay Barkley, a lawyer for Conway’s office, wrote in Thursday’s motion. “Should defendants elect to appeal from any final order, they reserve the right to seek a stay for the duration of an appeal.”

Heyburn responded to Conway’s request by scheduling a telephone conference call for the lawyers in the case for 2:30 p.m. Friday.

But for at least one day, same-sex marriages performed elsewhere are legal in Kentucky, said Laura Landenwich, an attorney for four same-sex married couples who sued Beshear and Conway last year.

More about ‘liberal’ Judge Heyburn

Timothy Kincaid

February 13th, 2014

Yesterday U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled that Kentucky’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages from other states violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection clause.

Immediately, the antigay ranting voices started screaming about liberal activist judges.

Family Foundation of Kentucky (Courier-Journal)

Martin Cothran, an analyst for the Family Foundation of Kentucky, said the decision “puts Kentucky voters on notice that if their reasons for defining marriage as between a man and a woman don’t correspond with the political ideology of liberal judges, their votes don’t count.”

National Organization for Marriage

“Today yet another federal judge has entered the competition for lawlessness on the marriage front,” said Brian Brown, NOM President.

Family Research Counsel’s Tony Perkins

This ruling is another example of the deep betrayal of a judicial system infected with activist judges who are legislating from the bench.

So here’s a bit more about ‘lawless liberal activist’ Judge Heyburn from his bio:

From 1976 until his appointment to the bench, Judge Heyburn was associated with the law firm of Brown, Todd & Heyburn, where he was a partner at the firm from 1982 through 1992. His legal practice focused on civil litigation, with an emphasis on problems within the construction industry. Judge Heyburn also served as special counsel to then Jefferson County Judge Executive Mitch McConnell [who went on to be conservative Republican Senator McConnell]. Judge Heyburn was active in civic and political affairs in Kentucky. He was a delegate to the 1984 and 1988 Republican National Convention.

On March 20, 1992, President Bush nominated Judge Heyburn to the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. He was confirmed by the United States Senate in August, 1992. From December, 2001, to December, 2008, Judge Heyburn served as Chief Judge of the Western District of Kentucky.

(hat tip GoodAsYou)

Federal Judge Strikes Down Kentucky’s Prohibition Against Recognizing Marriages from Other States

Jim Burroway

February 12th, 2014

Now it’s Kentucky. U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II today has ruled that Kentucky’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages from other states violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection clause. Judge Heyburn cited last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Windsor v. US which struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act for invalidating the portion of Kentucky’s state constitutional amendment excluding same-sex marriage as “valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky”.

As in other cases that have rejected the amicus’s arguments, no one in this case has offered factual or rational reasons why Kentucky’s laws are rationally related to any of these purposes. Kentucky does not require proof of procreative ability to have an out-of-state marriage recognized. The exclusion of same-sex couples on procreation grounds makes just as little sense as excluding post-menopausal couples or infertile couples on procreation grounds. After all, Kentucky allows gay and lesbian individuals to adopt children. And no one has offered evidence that same-sex couples would be any less capable of raising children or any less faithful in their marriage vows. Compare this with Plaintiffs, who have not argued against the many merits of “traditional marriage.” They argue only that they should be allowed to enjoy them also.

Other than those discussed above, the Court cannot conceive of any reasons for enacting the laws challenged here. Even if one were to conclude that Kentucky’s laws do not show animus, they cannot withstand traditional rational basis review.

Heyburn, a 1992 George H.W. Bush appointee on the recommendation of Sen. Mitch McConnell, dedicated much of his brief to addressing his ruling in light of Kentucky’s socially conservative norms. “To the extent courts clash with what likely remains that majority opinion here, they risk some of the public’s acceptance,” he wrote. His first concern was the religious one:

Many Kentuckians believe in “traditional marriage.” Many believe what their ministers and scriptures tell them: that a marriage is a sacrament instituted between God and a man and a woman for society’s benefit. They may be confused—even angry—when a decision such as this one seems to call into question that view. These concerns are understandable and deserve an answer.

Our religious beliefs and societal traditions are vital to the fabric of society. Though each faith, minister, and individual can define marriage for themselves, at issue here are laws that act outside that protected sphere. Once the government defines marriage and attaches benefits to that definition, it must do so constitutionally. It cannot impose a traditional or faith-based limitation upon a public right without a sufficient justification for it. Assigning a religious or traditional rationale for a law, does not make it constitutional when that law discriminates against a class of people without other reasons.

The beauty of our Constitution is that it accommodates our individual faith’s definition of marriage while preventing the government from unlawfully treating us differently. This is hardly surprising since it was written by people who came to America to find both freedom of religion and freedom from it.

Heyburn reiterated that his decision does not require Kentucky to allow same-sex couples to marry in the state because “the Court was not presented with the particular question.” He strongly suggested however that “there is no doubt that Windsor and this Court’s analysis suggest a possible result to that question.” He then addressed the concerns expressed that his opinion would somehow affect so-called “traditional” marriages:

Second, allowing same-sex couples the state recognition, benefits, and obligations of marriage does not in any way diminish those enjoyed by opposite-sex married couples. No one has offered any evidence that recognizing same-sex marriages will harm opposite-sex marriages, individually or collectively. One’s belief to the contrary, however sincerely held, cannot alone justify denying a selected group their constitutional rights.

Third, no court can require churches or other religious institutions to marry same-sex couples or any other couple, for that matter. This is part of our constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion. That decision will always be based on religious doctrine.

He also anticipated the argument that his ruling was going against “the vote of the people,” which added the marriage ban to the Kentucky constitution in 2004:

So now, the Constitution, including its equal protection and due process clauses, protects all of us from government action at any level, whether in the form of an act by a high official, a state employee, a legislature, or a vote of the people adopting a constitutional amendment. As Chief Justice John Marshall said, “[i]t is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, 177 (1803). Initially that decision typically rests with one judge; ultimately, other judges, including the justices of the Supreme Court, have the final say. That is the way of our Constitution.

For many others, this decision could raise basic questions about our Constitution. For instance, are courts creating new rights? Are judges changing the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment or our Constitution? Why is all this happening so suddenly?

The answer is that the right to equal protection of the laws is not new. History has already shown us that, while the Constitution itself does not change, our understanding of the meaning of its protections and structure evolves.16 If this were not so, many practices that we now abhor would still exist.

Contrary to how it may seem, there is nothing sudden about this result. The body of constitutional jurisprudence that serves as its foundation has evolved gradually over the past forty-seven years. The Supreme Court took its first step on this journey in 1967 when it decided the landmark case Loving v. Virginia, which declared that Virginia’s refusal to marry mixed-race couples violated equal protection. The Court affirmed that even areas such as marriage, traditionally reserved to the states, are subject to constitutional scrutiny and “must respect the constitutional rights of persons.” Windsor, 133 S.Ct. at 2691 (citing Loving).

The lawsuit was brought by four Kentucky couples who were married in Canada, Iowa, California, and Connecticut.

Portion of KY ban on equality ruled unconstitutional

Timothy Kincaid

February 12th, 2014

From the Courier-Journal

A federal judge Wednesday struck down Kentucky’s ban on recognizing valid same-sex marriages performed in other states, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II joined nine other federal and state courts in invalidating such bans.

Heyburn did not rule that Kentucky must allow gay marriages to be performed in the state.

Heyburn is a Kentucky native and former Army Reservist. He was appointed by President George H.W. Bush at the recommendation of Senator Mitch McConnell (R). Predictably, the antigay groups are already calling him a “liberal judge”.

Kentucky jury fines gay couple for protesting in marriage office

Timothy Kincaid

November 26th, 2013

In January of this year, Rev. Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard and Dominique James went down to the Jefferson County Clerk’s office (Kentucky) to request a marriage license. When they were denied, they refused to leave until such time as their civil rights were honored.

At the end of the day they were arrested for trespass.

Today a jury found them guilty and levied a fine. (Courier-Journal)

A Jefferson County jury Tuesday convicted a gay couple of trespassing for refusing to leave the county clerk’s office after they were denied a marriage license — fining them a penny for their crime.

Sunday Driver: Simple Gifts

Jim Burroway

September 13th, 2009

Today, especially in contemporary America’s Fox News-driven style of political environment where anything smacking of shared obligations and sense of community is loudly and angrily denounced as “socialism” or worse, it’s hard to remember that communitarian Utopian ideals were an important religious and societal impulse which built great swaths of the country in the early 1800′s. These communal experiments of the Harmony Society, Zoar, the Shakers, the Oneida community, the Amana Colonies – these have all left an indelible mark on American society and its landscape.

Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, Ky. The Shaker's famous attention to detail extends to the building's exteriors as well. Notice the windows on the brick building on the left: ground floor windows are five panes high, second floor are four panes high, and top floor are three.

Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, Ky. The Shaker's famous attention to detail extends to the building's exteriors as well. Notice the windows on the brick building on the left: ground floor windows are five panes high, second floor are four panes high, and top floor are three. (Jim Burroway/BTB)

One such group, and perhaps the most ardent in its communal strictures, were the Shakers. Founded by Ann Lee, an illiterate mill worker who was strongly influence by the Quakers, the Shakers adopted similar theological  beliefs but added the some key elements which set them apart. The Shakers’ manner of worship involved ecstatic, animated movements which lent them their name and established a precedent for later pentecostal movements which would come about in the early twentieth century. They were ahead of themselves in other ways as well: because they held that God embodied both masculine and feminine elements, they believed in absolute equality between men and women. They rejected slavery and were open to all comers regardless of race. They also founded communal villages in which family relationships were abolished and celibacy became the most notable feature of Shaker life to the outside world.

Shaker Village

Interior of Centre Family Dwelling, Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, Ky. Built in the early 1830's, Pleasant Hill boasts innovative architecture and interior spaces that would be at home in any modern building. (Jim Burroway/BTB)

Twin Spiral Staircase, Trustee's Offices. (Jim Burroway/BTB)

Twin spiral staircase, Trustee's Offices. (Jim Burroway/BTB)

Actually, celibacy was only one notable feature of Shaker life. Perhaps the other most notable feature was the Shakers’ remarkable craftsmanship in everything they made. Their view of work was best summed up by two well-known Shaker sayings: “Do your work as though you had a thousand years to live and as if you were to die tomorrow,” and, “Put your hands to work, and your heart to God.” They believed that making something well was itself an act of prayer. Simplicity, beauty, and plain functionality were guiding principles in everything they did.

There is one point of irony in the Shakers’ much-appreciated craftsmanship. Their ingenuity and fine attention to detail has made those “simple gifts” produced by a simple people in prayer have become inordinately expensive. Original Shaker pieces now command exorbitant prices among some of the world’s wealthiest collectors.

The Shakers went on to found 19 villages from Maine to Kentucky, and at their peak counted some 16,000 members. They also drew a tremendous backlash in the outside world, often with arguments similar to those used by anti-gay activists. One such anti-Shaker argument held that the Shakers represented a dire threat to civilization: if everyone became Shaker, then the human race would die out due to their insistence on celibacy.

Women's dormatory in the Centre Family Dwelling (Jim Burroway/BTB)

Women's dormatory in the Centre Family Dwelling (Jim Burroway/BTB)

But in the end, it was the Shakers who eventually died out. The industrial revolution and the rise of cities marked a popular shift away from farming in general, and the Shaker’s agrarian communal lifestyle quickly became obsolete. And there was, of course, that celibacy thing which went far beyond merely a ban on sex. It extended to a ban on marriage and the denial of intimate relationships of all sorts. This smacked headlong against the growing Victorian fascination of romantic love as being the foundation of lifelong attachments. And of course, communal living experiments across the country ran hard against the lure of rugged individualism which drove Americans’ both further westward and toward greater economic freedom. Against those nineteenth century developments, “United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing” didn’t stand a chance.

One by one, the Shaker settlements were abandoned. There is only one settlement left at Sabbathday Lake near Lewiston, Maine, with four remaining residents. The Shaker village in Kentucky, Pleasant Hill, was founded in 1806 and lasted as an active community until 1910. The last Kentucky Shaker, Sister Mary Settles, died in 1923. Pleasant Hill, about 25 miles south of Lexington, is now a remarkably preserved museum where the Trustee Office building is now an Inn and restaurant.

Interior of the Meeting House at Pleasant Hill (Jim Burroway/BTB)

Interior of the Meeting House at Pleasant Hill (Jim Burroway/BTB)

There is another legacy that the Shakers left for us, and it’s one that everyone the world over is familiar with. Music and dance were an exceptionally important part of Shaker worship, and one song in particular not only encapsulates perfectly  the Shaker philosophy, but has become an anthem for personal excellence.

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Update: After I posted this, it occurred to me that the Shaker experiment had more in common with monasticism than most other communal Utopian communities of the nineteenth century. But they didn’t position themselves as a monastic alternative to ordinary life, but as an entirely separate kind of community and religion. There are still monasteries today, even though they generally are in decline. Perhaps if the Shakers had thought of themselves as providing a different way of living out a more common Protestant faith rather than the particularly unique beliefs they espoused (rejection of the Trinity, direct communication with the dead, etc.), they might have survived as well in some form. Who knows?

Disgusting Protest At Murray, KY

Jim Burroway

December 29th, 2008

Last month, we noted the innovative event sponsored by Murray State University’s Gay-Straight Alliance, in which alliance members performed “live homosexual acts” on campus’s Free Speech Zone. Those “live homosexual acts,” of course, consisted of reading books, chatting, studying, having coffee — that sort of thing.

Of course, things aren’t always that enlightened in that small southwestern Kentucky town. A reader from Murray wrote to me to describe another recent protest taking place in that fair city:

Ours is a small, conservative town, where protests and other forms of “making waves” are discouraged, message aside.  Thus it was all the more disturbing to see this man, his wife (presumably) and his child doing the corner preacher thing.  The center sign in the picture I’m sending you is the truly disturbing part of this whole ordeal.

Just a reminder that anti-gay fire exists everywhere, even places where the movement has made strides and opened minds, and even places where the anti-gay current is typically status quo and not incendiary.

The child in the middle, who looks to be about eight years old, is holding a sign reading “2 gay rights: AIDS and hell.” Gee, it’s a good thing they don’t hate us.

Students Perform “Live Homosexual Acts” On Kentucky College Campus!

Jim Burroway

November 21st, 2008

Absolutely shocking!:

On Friday, members of the Murray State Alliance performed live homosexual acts on campus in the Free Speech Zone. Many students were shocked, but not necessarily as the name the event implies. Students performed acts such as reading, studying and hanging out to raise awareness about the lifestyle of gay members of the Murray State campus.

…Anthony Jones, senior from Union City, Tenn., and Murray State Alliance president, said he was happy with how Friday’s event turned out. “We had a fairly good amount of people that stopped and talked with us for a while,” Jones said. Jones said he thinks students came away with a very important message. “Gay people are just as ordinary as anyone else out there,” Jones said. “Gay and lesbian folk do the same thing as anyone else and I think (the event) illustrated that in a very clear way.”

Murray State Alliance plans on holding more Live Homosexual Acts next year.

Rallies Across America

Jim Burroway

November 16th, 2008

Protesters turned out is scores of cities across America to protest the unprecedented stripping of rights from gays and lesbians with the passage of California’s Proposition 8, as well as the passage of anti-marriage amendments in Arizona and Florida.

Updated:
Here is a roundup from more than 110 cities across the United States, great and small where people joined the impact. From New York City to Wailuku, Hawaii; from San Francisco to Portland, Maine; from Anchorage to Miami Beach, people everywhere stood up for equality and against the travesty of Prop 8 which summarily stripped a minority of its rights.

Note: This post is a re-creation from the one originally created on Saturday. That post ended up getting corrupted due to the multiple updates I was making through the day. Unfortunately, when the post finally went completely haywire, it took some 20 comments with it.

In Wailuku, HI:

Sandy Farmer-Wiley (left) and Jean Walker participate in a rally Saturday in Wailuku supporting gays, lesbians and transgenders in a nationwide protest against the approval of Proposition 8 in California and other anti-gay initiatives passed in the Nov. 4 general election. The Maui women, who have been together for 32 years, formally declared their commitment to each other during a service at Keawala‘i Congregational Church in Makena 15 years ago and were married in a civil union in Vermont in 2000. “Marriage is a civil right, it has nothing to do with religion,” Farmer-Wiley said. “The Bible is being used as a stick to beat us.” A total of about 45 people attended the rally in front of the State Office Building held to coincide with similar demonstrations across the country.

 

In Sandpoint, ID:

It didn’t matter that it was cold outside. The occasional negative gesture or rude comment weren’t an issue. After all, the dozen or so protesters of a recent California vote banning gay marriage, those things paled in comparison to the lack of equal rights for all. “I’m a strong supporter of equal rights for everyone,” said Dr. Bill Barker, organizer of the Sandpoint protest.

A Sagle-based psychologist, Barker said he helped many people deal with issues of sexual orientation in their families. When the call went out from Join the Impact encouraging communities to hold a day of protest of Proposition 8’s passage, Barker said he knew it was something he wanted to do in Sandpoint. Everyone in the country was asked to take a stand for equal rights

The community is blessed by its diversity, and one of its strengths is its support for others of differing views, Barker said, adding reaction to the protest was mostly positive with only a few negative comments.

 

In Los Angeles, CA:

In Los Angeles, protesters clustered near City Hall, carrying rainbow-colored flags and signs bearing messages such as “No More Mr. Nice Gay,” “Where’s My Gay Tax Break?” and “No on Hate.”

… The Los Angeles Police Department estimated that 40,000 people would attend the march, which officials expected to be peaceful.

The protests will be a key test for a loosely formed Internet-based movement that has emerged since California voters banned gay marriage last week.

In the last 11 days, advocates have used the Web to organize scattered protests at places, such as the Mormon Temple in Westwood and Sunset Junction in Silver Lake, and mount boycotts against businesses that supported Proposition 8. Those efforts snowballed, and marches against the proposition are expected in more than 300 cities across the country.

In South Lake Tahoe, CA:

At least 100 people, gay and straight, couples and partners gathered at El Dorado Beach on Saturday as part of a coast-to-coast, nationwide day of protest. …Flanked with signs that said “equal rights for all” the Tahoe gathering generated a fair share of waves and honks of support along Highway 50. There were occasional finger gestures by motorists but all-in-all the protest was successful, said organizer Janice Eastburn.

In Stillwater, OK:

More than 50 people braved the cold and wind to wave signs and cheer honking vehicles in protest of California’s recent same-sex marriage ban on Saturday at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Husband Street. The demonstration began at noon with a handful of protesters on the sidewalk in front of the county courthouse lawn, but the line of people facing Sixth Avenue grew throughout the afternoon.

In Stillwater, the mood seemed positive: the crowd, consisting of both young and old, cheered as honking vehicles drove past, including a semitrailer hauling half of a house. Melanie Page, an OSU psychology professor, brought her two sons with her to the protest. Page said she came to support equal rights. “I would hope that the community sees that the majority of people support gay rights, and for couples who love each other to marry and have legal protection,” she said. “That only strengthens America, strengthens families. It doesn’t weaken families. It’s not just gay people supporting gay people.” A number of OSU students also joined in the protest.

In Fairfield, CA:

About 75 people showed up to a Fairfield rally organized by Fairfield High School student Crystal Nievera, 16. “Not everyone voted yes on 8 (in Solano County),” said Nievera, who feared a small showing based on what her Facebook group told her. The protesters met at Fairfield City Hall and marched to Solano County Municipal Court, where they would be more visible on busy Texas Street.

The protesters — many with their children in tow — waved signs, chanted and encouraged passing motorists to honk in support. In a reflection of the youth-driven nature of the national rallies, many in the crowd were teenagers, including 18-year-old Antigone de la Cruz Montgomery VanGundy, who was with her adoptive parents Gino and Chris VanGundy, a married Fairfield couple. “I graduated high school with honors and AP classes and a 4.0 GPA,” she said. “Do not tell me my family does not have good parents.”

In San Francisco, CA:

Thousands of protesters converged upon San Francisco’s City Hall Saturday morning to speak out against California’s controversial Proposition 8.

“And sometimes it feels we felt our whole lifetime digging out the lies that other people tell about us, but the truth is this: we are a movement based on love,” said Reverend Dr. Penny Nickson who spoke during the rally.


In Burlington, VT:

“It’s shameful. It’s un-American,” said one Burlington protester. “This is a very frightening development for all of us,” added another.

A steady downpour symbolized the mood in Burlington. Same sex couples stood in solidarity holding signs while speakers stepped up to the mike to share their fears. In 2000 Vermont became the first state in the country to legalize civil unions for same sex couples. Several other states have since followed suit.

In Minneapolis, MN:

Gathering in front of a banner said “legalize love,” more than 500 gay rights activists gathered this afternoon in downtown Minneapolis as part of a nationwide series of rallies to support gay marriage.

…Reg Merrill, 63, drove 4 hours from Ft. Dodge Iowa to join the demonstration.

“It’s hard to believe that people pass laws that take away rights, “ Merrill said.

Minneapolis City Council Member Gary Schiff highlighted a series of speakers

“From Golden Gate Park to Loring Park, we will step together until this battle is won,” Schiff said.

In Baton Rouge, LA:

As part of the national day of protest Saturday, groups in Baton Rouge rallied downtown. “What I’m hoping is a new chapter in American civil rights history,” says Kevin Serrin with Capital City Allliance. The group raised the gay pride flag and held up signs in protest of the California ban.

In San Diego, CA:

As the march in downtown San Diego to protest the passage of Proposition 8 is taking place, the crowd of participants, which initially was numbered about 2,000, has swelled. As of 11:45 a.m., police estimated the crowd at about 10,000 people. Those participating in the march now stretch about three-quarters of a mile long.

In New York, NY:

Thousands took to the streets of Lower Manhattan Saturday to protest California’s new ban on gay marriage. The rally at City Hall was just one of many scheduled around the country, including San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston. The cheering crowd stretched for blocks, as demonstrators waved rainbow-colored flags and held signs and wore buttons that said ‘I do.’ By standing here today we send the message we will move over, through and beyond Prop 8,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

In Escondido, CA:

Nearly 500 opponents of Proposition 8, the widely debated initiative voters approved Nov. 4, waved signs and chanted “Repeal 8″ Saturday as they marched through the busy streets of downtown Escondido. … Spearheading the march was Jennifer Schumaker, a self-proclaimed “lesbian soccer mom” of four, who held a “No on Prop. 8″ sign in front of City Hall for eighteen days before the election. “We’re marching for equality, for progress and for future generations,” Schumaker said.

In Boston, MA:

Four to five thousand people gathered in the rain on City Hall Plaza Saturday to protest the recent vote in California which reversed that state’s legalization of gay marriage. …The Boston rally took on special significance because of Massachusetts’ distinction as the first state to legally recognize gay marriages. The show of support on City Hall Plaza included same sex couples from all over the state who have married in Massachusetts since May 2004.

In Washington, DC:

What looked like tens of thousands (it’s impossible to know for sure) turned out today for the D.C. version of the Join the Impact protest in which gays and their allies voiced disdain for Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative that passed last week outlawing same-sex marriage there.

Marchers met at 1:30 p.m. today at the Capitol Reflecting Pool and marched down the National Mall, past the Washington Memorial and to the White House. The length of the marchers appeared to be at least a few miles long. Many carried signs equating Prop. 8 with hate using the numeral 8 with an “h” in front of it to spell “hate” (i.e. H8). Call-and-response chants were heard in several variations.

Intermittent rain — at one point torrential — didn’t appear to deter anyone.

In Chicago, IL:

Thousands of gay marriage advocates took to the streets of downtown Chicago today, hoping to galvanize support and pressure the courts to overturn the passage of a same-sex marriage ban in California. .. [P]rotesters gathered at Federal Plaza, carrying rainbow-colored flags and signs with messages like “Fix Marriage, Not Gays” and “Repeal Proposition 8.” Organizers said they hoped to achieve “full marriage equality” in Illinois.

In Fargo and Grand Forks, North Dakota:

About 200 protesters gathered Saturday afternoon on the Veterans Memorial Bridge between Fargo and Moorhead to rally for equality and against California’s Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage in the state. Josh Boschee, organizer of the F-M Protest for Love, said he was extremely pleased by the turnout. “I was going to be happy with 20 to 30 people,” Boschee said. “There’s a lot of families and allies here. It’s more than just the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.”

…The local protest, along with one in Grand Forks, N.D., were among several across the country in which supporters gathered to support gay rights and marriage.

In Honolulu, HI:

Here, more than 300 people crowded the lawn near Honolulu Hale, in protest of California’s newly passed ban on same sex marriage. “We’re out for everybody and it’s equality for all,” Thomas Larabee said.

In Oakland, CA:

Thousands converged on Oakland City Hall on Saturday morning to protest against the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage in California and to rally for equal rights. “I think as a community and across the nation people are standing up and saying, ‘We are not going backward,’” said Molly McKay, spokeswoman for Marriage Equality USA. “We are only going forward and equality is a proud American tradition for our lives and for our families.

In Salinas and Monterrey, CA:

More than 50 opponents of Proposition 8 are marching through downtown Salinas to protest passage of the measure they say discriminates against gays and lesbians who want to marry. …Carrying signs and chanting messages against the measure, protesters are marching from Salinas City Hall to the National Steinbeck Center and back to City Hall without incident. No Salinas police officers were present as protesters marched.

Opposition is small, with just one person coming out in support of Prop. 8. Another rally against Prop 8 is happening at the Monterey City Hall.

In Portland, ME:

Saturday’s rain didn’t stop people who feel passionately about the same-sex marriage issue from heading out to Monument Square in Portland to have their voices heard. People who attended the rally say they want equal rights for same-sex couples and it’s time for Maine to legalize marriages of gay couples. One supporter held up a sign reading, “My dads are married.” She says she wants people to know that even though she was raised by a same-sex couple, she turned out just fine.

In Albany, NY:

Roughly 500 gay and lesbian individuals gathered in front of City Hall Saturday afternoon to participate in a local section of the national “Join the Impact” protest… Patrick Harkins, the organizer of the event, said that the local rally was to show that local citizens disagree with the California decision, but also that the residents of Albany want equal rights.

In Baltimore, MD:

Hundreds of people gathered outside Baltimore’s city hall to protest the passage of a ban on gay marriage in California. Mike Bernard of Baltimore, who married his partner in Canada this year, is one of several people who shared their personal stories with the crowd. He says in the long run, Proposition 8 may be a good thing for those fighting for gay marriage in the United States. He says many thought a liberal state like California would never ban gay marriage, but now they may be shocked into action.

In Sacramento, CA:

About 1,500 people were gathered across from Sacramento City Hall at Ninth and I Streets for a rally in Cesar Chavez Park. Participants carried signs and listened to speakers railing against Prop. 8.

In Witchita, KS:

A group of about 100 people gathered at Wichita City Hall this afternoon as part of a nationwide protest of California’s ban on gay marriage. … They shared the sidewalk with a small group from the Rev. Fred Phelp’s Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, who were protesting the protest, but there was no conflict between the two groups.

In St. Louis, MO:

A crowd of more than 500 spilled onto the street outside the Old Courthouse this afternoon as protesters gathered to voice opposition against California’s recent ban on gay marriage. A host of activists and politicians, including Mayor Francis Slay, state Sen. Joan Bray, D-University City, and Lewis Reed, president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, spoke in favor of equal rights for gay couples at the rally.

In Nashville TN:

Tennessee may be one of the nation’s most red states politically, but all the colors of the rainbow were important Nov. 15 at a gay rights rally, where more than 200 people convened for a peaceful protest outside the Nashville Metro Courthouse. …The protestors received no negative backlash from local conservative groups or passers by, but police were on hand in case an incident was to occur.

A small crowd began to assemble at noon Saturday and grew quickly as event organizers handed out “Stop the H8″ pins. A nearly equal number of GLBT people and their heterosexual allies joined forces to demand equality for all.

In Charlottesville, VA:

People stood out in the rain today to protest the ban right here in Charlottesville. Organizers say it was more of a rally than a protest. People cheered, waved signs and sang at the gathering. Their main goal they wanted to get across was that laws like Proposition 8 are not fair and people should not be judged based on sexual orientation.

“All of us here feel that it’s a civil right and that it should be granted to all citizens in the United States. Prohibiting it on the basis of same sex relationship is illegal, un-constitutional and generally just unfair,” said André Hakes, a protester.

In Palm Springs, CA:

More than 500 demonstrators turned out in Palm Springs for a nationwide rally coordinated at city halls in major cities to protest the recently passed same-sex marriage ban. Today’s event marked the third time hundreds of people in the Coachella Valley had demonstrated against Proposition 8, which overturned a state Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

In Denver, CO:

Hundreds of protestors turned out today in Denver against Proposition 8, a ballot measure passed by California voters that overrules a state Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

… Bob Vitaletti and his partner, Joe Moore, held up a sign with a photo taken of the two in 1984 during Pride Fest held in Denver. The couple have been together for 29 years. “You can’t put civil rights up for majority rule,” Joe Moore said.

In Detroit, MI:

What do we want? EQUALITY! When do we want it? NOW! That was the chant that rang out through downtown Detroit, Michigan today as over 300 hundred dedicated protesters rallied in the freezing rain and sleet as part of the National Day of Protest.

In Philadelphia, PA:

Several thousand gay-rights advocates turned the area around City Hall into a boisterous, rainbow-colored sea today joining others across the country in a simultaneous demonstration against California’s new ban on gay marriage.

… “This is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Philadelphia organizer Brandi Fitzgerald, looking out at chanting, sign-waving demonstrators on Dilworth Plaza.

At one point, the crowd pressed onto 15th Street, forcing police to redirect traffic by blocking one lane. When that happened, a group of demonstrators fell in behind the flashing lights of a patrol car, and within seconds hundreds had stepped off the curb and into the street for an impromptu march.

“I didn’t know there was going to be a march,” one woman said to a friend.

“Me neither,” the other answered. “Let’s go.”

And they did. At its longest, the march stretched three-quarters of the way around City Hall.

In Louisville, KY:

Several years ago, when Jefferson County was adding civil-rights protections for gays and lesbians in a fairness ordinance, Pam Becker was among those protesting outside the county courthouse. But today, she stood across Sixth Street at City Hall to call for the right to same-sex marriage, joining about 200 mostly gay and lesbian protesters — including her 18-year-old son.

The reason for her change of heart?

“My son coming out,” said the Jeffersonville, Ind., woman. “I have to support my child. “

The protesters — part of a coordinated series of demonstrations in cities around the country — gathered on a drizzly, gusty afternoon outside City Hall.

In Madison, WI:

Early Saturday afternoon, amidst the throngs of red-clad game day Badgers fans, a river of rainbow colors wound its way up State Street to the Capitol. … Thrown together over the last week and faced with cold, windy conditions, local organizers were pleased with the estimated 500-plus supporters who turned out today in downtown Madison.

In Ithaca, NY:

Hundreds of gay marriage supporters in the Southern Tier are protesting a California referendum that banned same sex marriage last week. Those supporters of same sex marriage say they’re fighting their own battle here in New York State.

…”In New York, it’s important we have marriage equality. The state assembly has already passed a marriage equality bill. The state senate has refused to even let it come up for vote. My rights are not up for vote.” Says Jason Hungerford.

In Santa Cruz, CA:

Chanting, cheering and carrying signs, hundreds of demonstrators gathered on the steps of the county courthouse and then marched to the Town Clock Saturday morning to demand equal marital rights for same-sex couples.

More than 500 people attended the rally, one of many held nationwide as a protest against the passage of Proposition 8, which calls for a Constitutional Amendment outlawing same-sex marriage. Speakers included Assemblyman John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County Supervisors Mark Stone and Neil Coonerty and Santa Cruz City Council members Cynthia Mathews and Tony Madrigal.

In Houston, TX:

Hundreds of people gathered on the steps of Houston City Hall this afternoon to protest the passing of Proposition 8, California’s constitutional amendment taking away the right to marry for same-sex couples. Along with the passing of other anti-gay measures across the nation, Prop. 8 made November 4 a day of mixed emotions for many of the progressives in attendance, who say they went to bed ecstatic about the election of Barack Obama but woke up the next morning to find out not everything had changed for the better.

In Miami Beach and Ft. Lauderdale, FL:

Hundreds came to Miami Beach City Hall Saturday afternoon as part of a national Join the Impact movement to protest this month’s passage of anti-gay-marriage laws in Florida, California and Arizona. About 1,000 protested in Fort Lauderdale.

In Allentown, PA:

Calling for unity and equal rights, more than 150 gay rights supporters demonstrated Sunday in downtown Allentown to protest California’s recent ban on same sex marriage. Their anger as fierce as the cold winds that swept around them at Hamilton and Seventh streets, speaker after speaker criticized California’s Proposition 8 legislation, which banned same-sex marriage. ”We have a right to be angry, to be frustrated, to be insulted … because our community’s rights were voted against in the state of California,” said Adrian Shenker, president of the Muhlenberg College Gay Straight Alliance.

In Greensboro, NC:

Brant Miller is an unabashed romantic. He’s picked out baby names. He’s dreamed about his wedding – even designed some bridesmaid dresses for the occasion. There is one catch, however. Miller, a UNCG student, can’t get married because he’s gay.

On Saturday, he stood on the steps of the Melvin Municipal Office building and asked about 200 other rally participants to ask their legislative representatives to expand marriage rights to gay people in North Carolina.

In Indianapolis, IN:

Supporters of gay rights met at at a rally in front of the City-County Building as part of a nationwide protest over Proposition 8 Saturday, November 15, 2008.

In Jackson, MS:

Protests over California’s Proposition 8 spread to the Magnolia State on Saturday. About 50 people protested in Jackson outside the state capitol, upset the measure didn’t pass in California. Proposition 8 banned same-sex marriage in that state. … They said they want to draw attention to what they say is a civil rights issue that affects America as a whole.

“So when people see protests happening around the country, they’ll understand that this isn’t just an issue that’s happening somewhere else, this is an American issue happening everywhere, because it affects all of us,” organizer Brent Cox said.

In Seattle, WA:

Thousands of people marched peacefully through downtown Seattle Saturday afternoon as part of a national protest to protest the California vote that banned gay marriage. Seattle police accompanied the marchers. Police estimated the crowd the number about 3,000. There were counterprotesters.

In Des Moines, IA:

About 100 protesters picketed at Des Moines’ City Hall to challenge voter passage of a measure that banned gays and lesbians from marrying in California. … The state’s first and only legally married same-sex couple attended the protest, as did Iowa’s only openly gay state senator, Matt McCoy.

…Six same-sex couples will go before the Iowa Supreme Court on Dec. 9 to argue for legal same-sex marriage in Iowa. It was legal in Polk County for two days in August 2007. One couple was married before a court ended the practice.


In Atlanta, GA:

At the Georgia Capitol, more than 1,500 opponents of California’s Proposition 8 crowded the plaza and steps, spilling onto Washington Street. Speakers led the crowd in chants during the Saturday afternoon protest.“We support marriage equality,” said Carlton Eden, who attended the Atlanta rally with his wife, Claire, and three daughters. “We believe everyone should be able to marry.”

In Montclair, NJ:

Bernie Bernbrock was born into the Mormon Church. He said he still believes in God and many of the faith’s doctrines but left the church because of its stance on gay rights. Today, Bernbrock, from Glen Ridge, took his 7-year-old daughter, Abby, and his partner of 10 years, Glen Vatasin to Montclair for their first-ever same-sex marriage march. “I don’t think any one family is in any position to judge another family,” he said. “It’s not their right to come into my home and take my rights away.”

He joined over 120 people who chanted through Montclair in support same-sex marriage as part of a national protest against California’s new ban on gay marriage, Proposition 8.

In Kalamazoo, MI:

More than 120 people lined the street in front of the Federal Building Saturday afternoon to protest the recent passage of a California ballot proposal banning same-sex marriage. Signs reading “Stop the Hate” and “Equal Rights for All” attracted honks as passing motorists showed support. The crowd stretched nearly a full block along West Michigan Avenue.

In Dallas, TX:

Louise Young never cast a vote on Proposition 8, but the measure changed her life. Married three months ago in California, Ms. Young and Vivienne Armstrong, her partner, joined more than 1,200 other Dallas-area residents who gathered outside of Dallas City Hall on Saturday to peacefully protest California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in that state.

“This is not a religious issue,” said Ms. Young, 61, of Dallas. “This is about legal rights. This isn’t right.”

In Duluth, MN:

Speaking out were more than one hundred protestors from all walks of life: young and old, students and professionals, and gay and straight. Tate Haglund-Pagel says “When I met my wife and the happiness we have gotten out of you know being married and being each others partners for ever I don’t understand why two men or two women can’t have the same happiness.”

In Peoria, IL:

In Peoria and across the country today, people petitioned in support of gay marriage and against a recent California vote. Dozens of people bared the cold weather to hold up signs opposing Proposition 8.

…Hector Martinez opposes Proposition 8 and said, “We just feel that you know we need to put a stop or this needs to see a reverse proposition 8. Eventually my partner and I, we’ve been together for 18 years, you know we’d like to see the legalization of marriage for us in Illinois.”

In Phoenix, AZ:

Donavon Goodsell, of Phoenix, celebrated his 67th birthday by marching for gay rights in a rally that drew a large group from the gay community and its supporters. He’s been in a relationship for 42 years, he said, and it’s time for marriage rights.

Goodsell was one of more than 1,000 people who gathered in Phoenix to protest the recently passed Proposition 102, an Arizona constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

In Oklahoma City:

Hundreds of protesters in Oklahoma City joined a nationwide call to protest the passage of a ballot measure in California that banned same-sex marriage. “It’s a huge, huge movement going on today,” said local organizer Bret Gaither. “We’re not asking for, you know, understanding or special treatment. We’re asking for equal treatment.”

In Tulsa, OK:

A group of about 300 activists and protesters marched Saturday through downtown to City Hall, where they held a short rally and observed a moment of silence as part of a worldwide protest for homosexual rights known as Join the Impact. The Tulsa rally was organized by Ashley Butler, who had no intentions of leading any such protest as recently as a week ago. “I sort of fell across it by accident,” she said.

In Albuquerque and Santa Fe, NM:

Hundreds of people gathered in Albuquerque and Santa Fe on Saturday to protest the passage of Proposition 8 and anti-gay legislation in other states. About 500 people gathered on Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza with signs that read “What’s so scary? We just want to marry” and “Love and Let Love.” Rally organizer Rose Bryan says the event was about family and people being able to take care of and protect the people in their families.

In Santa Fe, a crowd of more than 100 people braved the chilly wind to speak out against Proposition 8.

In Columbia, MO:

More than 100 people bundled in coats, scarves, hats and gloves gathered on Saturday afternoon in front of the Boone County Courthouse in the ear-numbing cold and a stiff wind to protest the passage of California’s Proposition 8.

…On the steps in front of the courthouse, using a small PA system, [Mark] Buhrmester called the crowd together. He introduced the afternoon’s speakers and addressed the question of why Missourians and others outside of California were protesting an amendment that doesn’t directly affect them.

“The truth of the matter is that the hopes and fears of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community were riding on Proposition 8, and our hopes were dashed, and our fears were met,” Buhrmester said. “So that’s why we are here together — to stand up for our rights with our friends and our community.”

In Pittsburgh, PA:

Speakers in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood shared their personal stories with more than 100 people at the rally in Schenley Plaza.

In Cincinnati, OH:

An estimated 500 people stood in the rain Saturday afternoon in front of Cincinnati City Hall to protest the passage of California’s Proposition 8 … Cameron Tolle, a junior at Xavier University from Missouri, took the lead organizing the event. He admitted it was his first attempt at political action. “Nine days ago this protest wasn’t planned,” Tolle said. He said he and a group of friends decided “through Facebook conversations and convictions” that Cincinnati needed to be involved in this national protest.

Speakers included comedian Margaret Cho, who is in town tonight for her Taft Theater performance, and Victoria Wulsin, who ran an unsuccessful campaign against Congresswoman Jean Schmidt.


In Olympia, WA:

About 300 South Sound residents, spurred to action by a recent initiative that overturned gay-marriage rights in California, gathered today at Olympia City Hall to rally support for the rights of gay men and women to marry. The 90-minute morning rally, organized by Anna Schlecht of Olympia, coincided with similar rallies across the country today. Schlecht said she was pleased with the turnout because there were so many new faces at the rally, people who had attended to show their support.

In Wilmington, NC:

More than 140 people assembled on the steps of the Federal Building in downtown Wilmington Saturday to protest the gay marriage bans recently approved in states across the country. The event was part of a planned nationwide network of protests, from Anchorage to Raleigh, largely organized via online word-of-mouth. Wilmington organizers Kati Heffield and Mary Eller assembled the Federal Building protest in just three days, primarily using the social networking Web site Facebook.

In Raleigh, NC:

Hundreds of people gathered this afternoon for a protest in downtown Raleigh against last week’s vote in California that made gay marriage unconstitutional there. …Braving a brief but drenching downpour, the marchers proceeded from the Capitol to the governor’s mansion — where one of them hoisted a rainbow flag on a pole just outside the gate. Police kept a close eye on the marchers while blocking traffic to maintain safety.

In Buffalo, NY:

150 people came out on a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon to show support for same-sex marriage and solidarity with gay and lesbian people in California. …The Buffalo event was organized by Kara DeFranco and publicized through the web site jointheimpact.com. …Protesters gathered at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Bidwell Parkway with signs that advocated equality under state marriage laws for all people.

In San Luis Obispo, CA:

Opponents of Prop. 8 took to the streets in downtown San Luis Obispo on Saturday, vowing to fight the measure banning same-sex marriages in California. More than 100 protesters rallied in front of San Luis Obispo City Hall, waving signs with slogans such as “Abate the H8” and “Marriage Equality USA.” The demonstration was one of several such protests that took place nationwide Saturday.

In Boise, ID:

Protests in Idaho were on a much smaller scale than some metropolitan areas around the nation, but even in Boise, the turnout was much bigger than expected. … It was a rally that packed the sidewalk on Capitol Boulevard in front of Boise City Hall. An estimated 400 people gathered to take part in a nationwide protest.

“This is amazing and exciting to see this support and the common grounds that Idaho has,” said Ryan Jensen and James Tidmarsh, married in California.

In Asheville, NC:

There seemed to be two predominant questions at a rally in Asheville Saturday in support of same-sex marriage: Why, and why not? The “why?” had to do with California voters’ decision on Election Day to rescind the rights of same-sex couples in that state to marry.

The “why not?” had to do with rally-goers’ bewilderment that others would deny gay and lesbian partners who’ve been together for decades the right to enjoy the bonds of a committed marriage, just the same as heterosexual couples.

“We don’t want to take anything from you,” said Kathryn Cartledge, one of the speakers at the gathering in Pritchard Park that drew about 400 supporters.

In Syracuse, NY:

Same sex couples across the country including those in Syracuse sent a strong message to California. Nearly 200 people showed up at city hall protesting proposition 8. Scotty Matthews was one of them. Even as a New Yorker, Scotty says he has a lot on the line with the proposition’s passage. “I’m gay. I’m an American. That’s the only stake I need to have in it. I don’t think that institutionalized discrimination is something that should be happening in America and that’s why I’m here,” said Scotty.

In Colorado Springs, CO:

“We are angry, sad, and hurt,” said Kristina Conner, who protested with a group of roughly 100 at City Hall in Colorado Springs. …”We want to take these emotions and use them as a positive driving force for our future so we too can have a unity and equality for our love,” said Conner.

In Tracy, CA:

Patti Armanini and Jackie Snodgrass tied the knot, legally, back in 2004 in San Francisco and again in September, and today, they joined a group in front of City Hall who protested this month’s passage of Proposition 8, which takes away their right to marry. “This is just one step in the whole process of overturning this,” Armanini said. “We’ll get there.”

In Salt Lake City, UT:

Hundreds of demonstrators waving signs and rainbow-colored flags gathered in downtown Salt Lake City today as the fight over gay marriage continued to intensify more than a week after California voters passed Proposition 8.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ involvement in the issue has turned Utah into “ground zero” for the gay civil rights movement, Jeff Key, a gay Iraq war veteran, told the crowd gathered at the Salt Lake City-County Building. “You called us out,” Key said. “You did this.”

In Lake Worth, FL:

Gay, straight, black, white: Marriage is a civil right,” chanted hundreds of people on the corner of Lucerne Avenue and Dixie Highway.

Their shouts were met by syncopated honks from passing motorists. Their cause resonated throughout more than 300 cities throughout the country, organizers said.

“Today we’re making history,” said Jay Blotcher, one of several organizers of the Join the Impact event. “This is a chapter in the civil rights movement and we will prevail.”

In Rochester, NY:

More than 150 people stood in the rain outside the Monroe County Administration Building this afternoon, rallying in support of same-sex marriage. …“People are angry, frankly, and this is history,” said Ove Overmyer, one of the local organizers, of the first simultaneous nationwide action in support of same-sex marriage.

The crowd marched along West Main Street, carrying signs that read, “It’s about love,” and “My family matters, too.” They chanted, “We don’t need the state’s permission. We are not second-class citizens.” This rally, like the others, grew out of a grassroots, online effort, mainly using the social-networking site Facebook, officials said.

In Spokane, WA:

In Spokane people gathered outside City Hall to voice their concerns about this legislation. More than 125 people showed up as part of demonstrations in more than 300 cities across the country.

Smack in the middle of the boisterous crowd was Nancy Maloy, she stood quietly with a sign in her hand, a self-described mother on a mission.”My wonderful gay daughter called me last night and said, ‘Mom everybody’s marching tomorrow morning, go and take a sign’,” said Maloy.

In White Plains, NY:

Standing on the steps of City Hall, more than 70 gay men, lesbians and their supporters today protested a California vote banning same-sex marriage and called for all states to provide civil marriage “equality.” … “The whole idea is to go out and tell people that marriage is our right,” said Jean-Charles DeOliveira, 41, an Ossining real estate agent who organized the White Plains rally.

In Long Beach, CA:

More than a thousand peaceful Long Beach demonstrators joined thousands across the nation Saturday to protest California’s passing of Proposition 8, a measure banning same-sex marriage.

Braving afternoon heat and smoke from fires raging around the county, the crowd cheered as more than a dozen city leaders and local activists spoke in front of City Hall.

In Fayetteville, AR:

Hundreds marched from the University of Arkansas to the square hoping to get their voices heard. “They had pushed so hard in California to get marriage there. They finally had it, and then it’s all of a sudden overturned,” explains Anna Center, a protest organizer.

…Fayetteville’s protestors also took time to voice their outrage about the recent passage of Act One. The measure prohibits gay and unmarried couples from adopting or fostering children here in Arkansas.

In Orlando, FL:

Close to a thousand people gathered outside Orlando City Hall on Saturday to protest a recently passed amendment to Florida’s constitution which bans gay marriage. … On Election Day, 62 percent of Florida voters approved the marriage amendment, which defines marriage between one man and one woman.

“They want us to be quiet and not be vocal and not be who we are,” said Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan. “People don’t understand that by being quiet, by being silent, we have our civil rights taken away from us every day. That’s all we want, to be treated fairly and equally”

In Las Vegas and Reno, NV:

Gay rights supporters rallied in Nevada today as part of a string of protests reacting to the ban on same-sex marriage passed 11 days ago in California. Upbeat crowds of more than 1,000 in Las Vegas and 300 in Reno cried out for equal rights for gays and lesbians.

In Las Vegas, demonstrators gathered outside a gay and lesbian community center just east of the Strip.

In Reno, demonstrators marched through the downtown casino area and gathered around the landmark Reno Arch.

In Austin, TX:

Disappointed and angry about the passage of Proposition 8 in California last week , at least 2,000 people crowded Austin City Hall Plaza on Saturday afternoon to support equal rights and legal marriage for those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.

Gay rights supporters cheered, chanted and waved rainbow colors in Austin and in cities across the country protesting the vote that banned gay marriage in California. Tens of thousands of people joined protests in Houston, Dallas and Arlington…

In Knoxville, TN:

:

More than 100 people rallied at the World’s Fair Park amphitheater Saturday afternoon in a cold wind to peaceably protest passage of a California ballot measure that recognizes marriages only between men and women. …Rally organizer Jen Crawford, 24, of Knoxville first heard from a friend that rallies were planned nationwide Saturday to protest the constitutional amendment. After considering going to a nearby city for a rally, Crawford decided to start one here. “I’m happy, as a straight ally, that I can pour into this and show my support,” she said.

In Fresno, CA:

Several hundred people showed up at Fresno’s city hall as part of the National Day of Protest. Several other demonstrations are planned Sunday as supporters of gay marriage take on the religious groups that supported Proposition 8.

Nearly two weeks after California voters approved a ban on gay marriage, members of Fresno’s gay and lesbian community say their fight for equal rights has just begun. They rallied at Fresno’s city hall Saturday, many still holding “Vote No on Proposition 8″ signs. “Rights were given to us and then eliminated by the majority of people and although the constitution guarantees the protection of the marginalized and the minority, it was allowed to pass,” said Prop 8 opponent Robin McGehee.

In Medford, OR:

Medford protesters joined a nationwide demonstration for gay rights. …Protesters say the goal of the demonstration was to spark a nationwide push for gay rights. For the people in downtown Medford today, there was a lot of emotion behind the issue. Their chant: “What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? Now!”

James Frank is a father and a grandfather, but he says he’s still fighting to be recognized as husband. “I’m not a two-headed monster; I put my pants on one leg at a time like every body else,” he says.

In Springfield, MO:

They stood In unity Saturday with a message intended to be heard around the nation. Hundreds of signs wrote it out in plain print, for all eyes to see. “It’s not even about being gay. It’s about being equal. It’s about being people, and recognizing that everybody loves just the same as everybody else,” said Stephanie Perkins who helped organize the local protest.

…Yet, some passers by didn’t take so well to the protest. “This is public. If they want to go protest, why don’t they go protest somewhere where there’s not a lot of people around,” said Amber Willis who is against gay marriage. But it was her very attitude that fired up the crowd even more. Within the crowd were dozens of stories, but for some it was a story about hope which they feel they are losing.

In Charlotte, NC:

More than 200 people gathered uptown Saturday to protest California’s recent ban on same-sex marriages and what it means for such couples nationwide. …Holding rainbow flags and braving strong winds, protesters rallied at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg government center and sang protest songs made famous during the country’s struggle for civil rights some 40 years ago.

In Macon, GA:

In Macon on Saturday, more than 50 advocates for Join the Impact, an international organization supporting equal rights for people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, protested the California Proposition 8 vote outside City Hall.

Protesters waved signs reading “What Would Martin Do?” “Fight the H8” and “Would You Rather I Marry Your Daughter?” Gatherers ranged in age and race. Some wore the traditional rainbow colors, expressing pride in their homosexuality. Others wore plain clothes and clergy attire.

In Tampa, FL:

Thousands of gays and lesbians and their supporters across the country – including more than 100 in downtown Tampa – rallied at 1:30 p.m. Saturday to protest bans on marriage and adoption approved by voters in four states.

…Tampa City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena told the crowd assembled at Joe Cillura Courthouse Square that “the tide is turning to say ‘we’re all in this together.’” She added: “I think it’s time for the county to revisit the human rights ordinance.” Attempts to add sexual orientation to the anti-discrimination ordinance have been made at least a couple of times since the county commission removed sexual orientation from the law in 2000.

In Sault Ste Marie, MI:

“We’re small but mighty,” said protest organizer Jennifer Rowe today. Rowe, along with Amanda Zuke, Kyle Cardoza, Liz Laplante and two other concerned citizens, gathered outside Sault Ste. Marie’s Civic Centre to protest the recent adoption of California’s Proposition 8, outlawing same-sex marriage. “We’re here to show our support for those in the United States who are fighting to get same-sex marriage recognized and for human rights across the board,” Rowe told SooToday.com.

In Bellingham, WA:

More than 100 people rallied on the corners of East Magnolia Street and Cornwall Avenue in Bellingham the morning of Saturday, Nov. 15, to protest California’s recent ban on gay marriage. Chants of “It’s about love not hate,” and “Hey mister president, what do you say, don’t hate families because they’re gay” filled blocks of downtown Bellingham during the two-hour protest. …The protesters in Bellingham were outside the Federal Building from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. A smaller group continued the protest outside the Bellingham Farmer’s Market after noon.

In Memphis, TN:

More than 150 people ignored the chilly winds to protest Downtown in front of the Memphis City Hall, bearing signs that said “Love makes a family,” “Support love not H8″ and “This is what democracy looks like.” “Because of our history in civil rights we felt it was particularly important for Memphis’ voice to be heard,” said Amy Livingston, a board member with the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, which co-sponsored the protest with the Women’s Action Coalition. The gays, lesbians and supporters in attendance were also urged to talk to friends, family and co-workers about the need to for civil rights for homosexuals.

In Missoula, MT:

Jamee Greer took charge of a sizable crowd that united and protested Saturday in favor of gay marriage rights, a group pulled together in Missoula by the Internet and text messages. He gave the group its marching orders, announcing the rules of the road, as the protesters carried signs and prepared to march from North Higgins Avenue to the Missoula County Courthouse.

…In Missoula, Brian Cook wore a picture of his 21-year-old gay son, Andrew Sullivan-Cook, who was in Dallas marching with Join the Impact protesters. “I’m here, not only in support of my son’s rights, but it’s simply the right thing to do,” said Cook. “Even if my son wasn’t gay, I’d be here.”

In Evansville, IN:

Protesters gathered around the nation and in Evansville on Saturday. …One hundred people stood out in the cold in front of the Centre to get their message out.

In Denton, TX:

Horns were honking for several hours early Saturday afternoon, supporting about 120 gay rights activists with signs and flags who were protesting the recent approval of California’s Proposition 8. … There were many supportive honks throughout the afternoon, said John McClelland, president of the Stonewall Democrats of Denton County, a gay and lesbian political organization. However, one protester said she had seen an obscene hand gesture from one driver.


In Providence, RI:

The State House lawn was dotted with umbrellas on Saturday afternoon, as the hundreds of people gathered there maintained a hopeful spirit despite the intermittent rain. …For the duration of the rally, supporters held a rainbow banner with the words “Love” and “Equality” across the State House steps. People held signs with a variety of messages “Straight guy for love,” “Fight the H8″ and “Jesus had 2 daddies, why can’t I?”

In San Bernadino, CA:

On Saturday morning, about 30 people gathered in front of Colton City Hall to kick off the rally. …Most carried “No on Prop. 8″ signs and some actually wore them. Others had rainbow flags draped across their shoulders. After receiving political statements from Lopez, the crowd walked along La Cadena Drive carrying signs and singing songs with the lyrics: “Hey hey, ho ho, discrimination has got to go.”

As they made their way back up the street, a lone man carrying a sign saying “Homo Sex is Sin” staked out a spot near their final stop, the steps of the old Carnegie Library. The man, Paul Mitchell, described himself as a Christian from Riverside who showed up because of what the Bible says about homosexuality. …When the crowd gathered on the steps of the library to listen to inspirational words, Mitchell heckled them, yelling out “repent” several times, before leaving in a white van parked nearby.

In Gainesville, FL:

Huddled under rainbow–colored umbrellas, Amendment 2 protestors met in the drizzling rain Saturday afternoon with a message: equal rights for everyone. About 150 Gainesville residents rallied for an hour and a half at the corner of East First Street and University Avenue for the repeal of Amendment 2.

In Riverside and other cities throughout inland CA:

At least 250 people rallied and marched in Riverside. … Same-sex-marriage supporters also rallied in places that had no organized gay activism before Prop. 8, including Moreno Valley, Colton, Hemet, the Big Bear area and Victorville.

…In Riverside, protesters set off from City Hall and broke into several groups to march through downtown streets, waving signs reading “When do I get to vote on your marriage?” and “Black, Straight, Against 8.”

In Colton, about 40 people marched in front of Colton City Hall chanting slogans such as “Gay, straight, black or white, Americans for civil rights!” …Nicolas Daily, 19, a black gay man who grew up in Colton, said one reason he attended the Colton rally was to increase the visibility of gays and lesbians of color.

In Pasadena, CA:

About 300 demonstrators crowded onto the steps of Pasadena City Hall on Saturday to protest the passage of Proposition 8. …”I don’t know about you, but I am tired of using the quiet approach,” said 29-year-old Scott Boardman of Monrovia, who spearheaded the event. “I want the fair approach, and if that means knocking on every door or having rallies every week, then so be it.”

In Redlands, CA:

Mike Hinsley and Scott Ruiz have been partners for six years. When Proposition 22 was overturned in 2007, making same-sex marriages legal in California, they held off. “As soon as the Supreme Court overturned it, we heard about Prop. 8, so we were waiting to see what was going to happen,” Hinsley said. On Saturday, Hinsley, 26, and Ruiz, 28, joined about 150 people in front of City Hall to protest Prop. 8. The protest was one of many held all over the nation, organized by www.jointheimpact.com.

In Stockton, CA:

About 200 people gathered at City Hall late Saturday morning before marching along two of downtown Stockton’s busiest streets in one of hundreds of simultaneous demonstrations in support of gay-marriage rights planned throughout the state and country. …I just think that it was important to bring something like this to Stockton,” said Sarah Amaton, the Manteca resident who coordinated San Joaquin County’s rally. Another is planned for 6 p.m. Monday, also at City Hall.

In Northampton, MA:

Hundreds of demonstrators spilled down the steps of City Hall and onto Main Street Saturday, part of a wave of nationwide protests over the passage of Proposition 8 in California. The rally was boisterous, even by Northampton’s standards, where rallies for social change are a staple of the cultural landscape.

… The local protest drew hundreds of same-sex couples and gay rights advocates of all ages, plus openly gay five-term Mayor Mary Clare Higgins, who sat on the steps and sang with “The Raging Grannies,” a social activism group who led the crowd in a pro-gay rights sing-along. Organizer Kathryn L. Martini, of Greenfield, said similar protests took place simultaneously in all 50 states. She estimated as many as 900 attended the local stand-out.

In Portsmouth, NH:

Supporters began gathering in Market Square at mid-day and a small group of about 15 around 1 p.m. had grown to nearly 100 within the hour. “Gay, straight, black or white, marriage is a civil right,” they chanted. Held on display in the middle of a crowd was a rainbow flag with “LOVE,” written across it. …Passers-by honked their horns in support, which led to cheers from the demonstrators.

In Pomona, CA:

“People tell us, `Go home. It’s over. It’s already been voted on,”‘ said Thuan Nguyen. “I say just because it’s voted on doesn’t mean homosexuality is going to disappear.” The 20-year-old Montclair resident was among more than 400

Comment of the Day: Coming Out Will Change The World

Jim Burroway

May 16th, 2008

We’ve got a great groups of commentors here, and I’ve noticed some real gems this past week. Maybe we should start a series. Maybe not a daily one, but you know what I mean.

If this does end up becoming a regular series, then consider this one the first installment.

In response to Timothy Kincaid’s post, Make It Personal, Kim Ridley writes:

This really works! Coming out is what will change the world.

Let me tell you a story.

I live in small town Kentucky. My partner and I (I guess she’s my fiance now. We are moving back to California in July and will be married Labor Day Weekend) hang out at a local bar. It’s redneck as hell – barfights, country karaoke, the whole deal. Everyone had always been nice to us and most people were aware we were a couple, certainly all of the people I would consider my friends. One day, a woman came into the bar, walked up to me and asked me if Kristen and I were a couple. (I’d gotten this question before, never had a negative response, and thought nothing of it). I said “yes”. She said “go home.”

Within minutes, the entire population of the bar was on their feet, forcing this woman to leave. It was Kristen and I that kept the whole thing from coming to blows, on our behalf. People I’d never really met were coming up to me and telling me that the woman had no right to say that to me. That we were welcome there. That her bigotry was not. I had people telling me that they had gay friends, gay cousins, gay brothers.

I’d never felt so accepted, so loved, in my life. Come out. Come out as a couple. It’s easy to hate faceless people. It’s hard to hate your friends.

Kentucky Votes for LIMITED Information on Holocaust

Timothy Kincaid

April 16th, 2008

The legislature in Kentucky has voted to assist in the education of students about the Holocaust and genocide.

The resolution would direct the Department of Education to make curriculum materials available for optional use in public schools by March 2009.

The material would be part of the Kentucky Program of Studies, which has state approval but is not required.

Oh, but not ALL victims of the Holocaust.

The Senate deleted a clause in the House version that cited other people the Nazis deemed “undesirable” because of their “race, nationality, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, religion, and political ideology.”

Whitaker said he received indications earlier in the session that the reference to sexual orientation was a “red flag” that could have endangered the bill.

It truly amazes me that some people refuse to provide accurate information about the Holocaust lest someone somewhere may know that gay people were also victims of Nazi mentality.

I’m truly flabergasted.

Rural Kentucky High School Student Fights for GSA

Jim Burroway

March 10th, 2008

Ohio County, KY

Ohio County, Kentucky lies in the western part of the state, just south of Owensboro in the Western Coal Fields region. Far from the bright lights of the big city, it’s the last place you’d expect to find a story like this. But this is a new era, and demands for dignity and safety are taking root everywhere:

Clyde Calloway18 year old avid photographer Clyde Calloway is the president of the school choir and a member of the drama club and Kentucky School of the Arts.

The most recent organization he’s joined is the Gay Straight Alliance.

“A lot of people have joined,” Clyde explains. “At first, I was skeptical of what people might think. Now, you see how many people are in there. I feel more open than before.”

So far, membership stands at about fifty people — not bad for a high school student body of 1200. The group has been at Ohio County High for several weeks, but most students didn’t find out about it until the GSA placed a bulletin board in a hallway for poetry and artwork. But threats were posted instead, including one which said that a gun would be brought to the next meeting.

The principal isn’t so sure the school is ready for the GSA, but Clyde says that closing this organization isn’t an option:

“If it’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s don’t let people get you down about stuff. Be strong and if it’s something you really believe in, keep behind it until the end,” says Clyde.

Clyde’s mother, Deborah, sounds like a remarkable woman for having raised such a remarkable son:

“I raised him not to judge other people and he’s just carrying that on,” Deborah concludes. “I’m very proud of him.”

You can see the full video at WBKO Channel 13, Bowling Green.