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Posts for September, 2010

Watchmen On the Walls to Gather in Sacramento and Washington State

Jim Burroway

September 27th, 2010

Watchmen conferenceA Sacramento-area reader tipped us to this flier advertising a Watchmen On the Walls conference that is scheduled for Oct 1-3 at the New Hope Christian fellowship near Sacramento. The conference will feature Latvian pastor Alexey Ledyaev, who cofounded the Watchmen with Seattle-based pastor Ken Hutcherson, Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, and Sacramento resident and Russian language media owner Vlad Kusakin. The Watchmen On the Walls has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of only about a dozen anti-gay hate groups.

Also appearing on the bill are Craig Carre of Gate Keepers and Alex Rykhlyuk of the Sacramento-based church Ecclesia, which mainly caters to the substantial Russian Evangelical immigrant community in Sacramento. The Russian Evangelical immigrant community has been among the most virulent anti-gay communities in California, and, along with Russian immigrants in the Seattle area, has provided leaders who have been an integral part of Watchmen On the Walls.

Alexeyev’s Riga-based megachurch, New Generation, was implicated of a violent confrontation during a Riga Pride event in 2006 when a churchmember was convicted of throwing feces at participants. Alexeyev and twenty other churchmembers were in the courtroom in support of the church member when he was convicted.

The conference is mentioned in the Watchmen’s official web site, but only in the Russian language version. That brief article mentions the Sacramento conference along with another one for Washington State in “early October.” No further details are given.

TheCall fails to attract expected crowd

Timothy Kincaid

September 7th, 2010

When the National Organization for Marriage failed abysmally to draw a crowd to their anti-gay Summer for Marriage Tour, I assumed that much of the problem could be found in their lack of organizational skills. And no doubt some of the blame for tiny and unenthusiastic attendance can be traced to poor planning, odd scheduling, and inadequate partnering.

But I am beginning to suspect that the largest reason that few people came out to “stand for marriage”, is that few people really object that much to gay couples being granted civil equality. And the turnout for Lou Engel’s TheCall evangelical rally this past weekend in Sacramento adds further confirmation.

Lou Engel (best known here for giving at least implied support for Uganda’s Kill the Gays Bill) is a popular speaker and an effective organizer. And his TheCall evangelical rallies draw support from some of the best known and most powerful figures in conservative Christian political circles. And Engel’s first TheCall in Washington, DC, in 2000 claimed to draw 400,000 participants.

Not so this year.

(Sources: Trial Tracker, Christian Post, Mercury News, TheCall, News & Review)

The event – a 12 hour fasting and prayer rally on Saturday with a decidedly political bent preceded by a Friday night concert – was planned in response to the Perry v. Schwarzenegger result and organizational hopes were for 50,000 people.

…the stakes couldn’t be higher. Seismic political, economic, and societal shifts are drastically reshaping California, every state, and the nation. This is the time for a great spiritual outpouring to be unleashed to meet the demand of these times.

But the people didn’t show up. The concert got decent attention, but the rally – the real purpose of TheCall – drew a far smaller crowd than for which the organization had prepared.

The Capital Mall is a seven block stretch of grass (sort of a large meridian) that runs from the California State Capital’s west lawn to Interstate 5. Big screens were set up on each block of the Mall to facilitate the crowds being able to see and hear. They were not needed.

The gathering filled the west lawn of the state Capitol and hundreds of people spilled into the next block, but the rest of Capitol Mall’s five-block-long lawn went unused despite large screens and barricades set up for the occasion.

As Trial Tracker’s Andy Kelley reported

As I walked down the street I passed dozens of Porta Potties, but no one was in sight, let alone congregating around them. I continued down the street, walking in search of anyone who might be attending the event, but there was no one on the street, no one but me. I kept walking, until I reached a JumboTron, some five blocks away from the Capital, but again, no one was in sight. Had they really anticipated it would be needed?

As I continued walking forward, I passed many uniformed police officers, hundreds of feet of chain link fences, and yet another closed intersection. There was a a second JumboTron, like the first, I was the only one viewing it.

While mainstream press simply reported “thousands”, Trial Tracker estimated about 6,000 participants, less than 20% of those expected.

Now we should not discount that thousands of people – mostly young people – were so fired up by their religious beliefs that they were willing to go pray and listen to political/religious speech for 12 hours. But it appears to me that the anti-gay charge has lost steam.

Prop 8 Rallies Planned

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2010

As Timothy mentioned yesterday afternoon, we received word that a decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is expected this afternoon between 1:00 and 3:00 pm (PDT). Already, Prop 8 supporters have already filed a request for stay of judgment pending appeal, in case Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8. If granted, this would prevent any marriages taking until the Court of Appeals hears the case.

Meanwhile, a large number of rallies are planned in California and across the U.S., forty so far and counting. Rex Wockner is keeping up to date with the latest additions.

Lou Engle Announces Sacramento TheCall Rally for Labor Day

Jim Burroway

July 3rd, 2010

Despite his use of violence-laden rhetoric toward the gay community and his proclaiming himself as a prophet from God because he has strange dreams, Lou Engle is now starting to be embraced by some of the more mainstream elements of the Christian Right, namely Focus On the Family. It was through that forum that we learn that Engle has announced a rally of TheCall for Sacramento:

Will you be hosting another TheCall event this year?

We are hosting TheCall Sacramento Sept. 3-4 – over Labor Day weekend – at Raley Field.

We are calling for a national solemn assembly. We have to follow God’s prescription for times of crisis – to gather together in unity to fast and pray in humility.

We will officially launch www.prayandact.org during the event. We are calling the whole nation to fast and pray for 40 days.

Sacramento has been the scene of significant anti-gay violence in recent years. In 2007, Satendar Singh, a young gay man from Fiji, was brutally attacked and killed at a picnic area near Sacramento by Russian immigrants with ties to Sacramento’s virulently anti-gay evangelical groups. Andrey Vusik, 30, identified as the man who threw the fatal punch, fled the country and is believed to be hiding in Russia. Sacramento is also home to Vlad Kusakin, who helped to co-founded Watchmen On the Walls with Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, Seattle-area pastor Ken Hutcherson, and Latvian megachurch pastor Alexey Ledyaev. Another prominent member of Sacramento’s Slavic community, George Neverov, has also been active with the Watchmen locally and internationally.

TMI

Jim Burroway

October 23rd, 2009

The Advocate asks, “Best Buns Contest Too Public?”

A gay rodeo’s “best buns contest” has elicited a complaint from a Sacramento-area resident who lives across the street from the venue where the event took place, according to KCRA.com. Monty Stanley of Wilton, Calif., said the October 17 show, which was sponsored by the Capitol Crossroads Gay Rodeo Association as a fund-raiser for Shriners children’s hospitals, was in plain view from his driveway.

“They had more than best buns,” Stanley told KCRA. “They had everything out there naked, and you can see it plain as day. What I witnessed there and what you saw on that camera is not different than pornography.”

Stanley stood in his driveway and shot video of the event, which he made available to KCRA. On the night of the rodeo event, his teenage daughter had several friends over at the house, and Stanley said they all witnessed the contest as well.

The event’s organizers deny that anything other than buns were displayed. But still, I think a good rule of thumb is this: If you’re having a best buns contest and someone can see those buns from clear across the street and in their own driveway, then yes. It’s too public.

Anti-Gay Slavs Voted Out of Student Government in Sacramento Community College

Timothy Kincaid

April 24th, 2009

In October, the student government of American River College in Sacramento endorsed Proposion 8. It was the only student government association in the state to do so. This engendered a recall effort but most students didn’t bother to vote and the anti-gay students remained in power.

We learned that these students were a coalition of five Slavic students associated with the virulently homophobic evangelical movement in Sacramento and three Mormon students who had joined forces to turn out voting blocks and advance socially conservative positions through student government. And their anti-gay activism was not limited to Proposition 8.

Last Friday the Sacramento Bee reported:

Student leaders at American River College passed a resolution Thursday opposing today’s nationally organized demonstration in support of gay rights.

The resolution asserts that “the Day of Silence has been used to silence and harass religious students at local public schools for expressing their viewpoints,” and instead calls for a “peaceful discussion of controversial issues instead of intimidation and censorship of opposing viewpoints.”

That may just have been too much for the students at American River College. They may have become too embarrassed about representatives that seemed anti-gay, anti-science, and anti-culture and they have voted the religious coalition out of office.

In elections held Wednesday and Thursday, American River College students ousted several conservative council members in favor of a slate that said it wanted the student government to stop focusing on divisive social issues.

Fourteen of 17 student representatives elected are part of the “ARC Students for Change” slate, including David Fisher, who won as student association president.

Congratulations to Fisher and his alliance of students.

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

Mormons Protest the Resignation of Anti-Gay Theater Director

Timothy Kincaid

November 12th, 2008

Scott Eckern, the Artistic Director of the California Musical Theater in Sacramento, has not had a good week. On Friday, Jeremy at GoodAsYou noted that Eckern had given $1,000 to the campaign to eliminate marriage rights of – let’s be real – a large percentage of people in Eckern’s business.

This did not sit well with Marc Shaiman, the composer of Hairspray, whose show ended the company’s summer season. He called Eckern and told him:

“The idea that your donation came from a salary that for a short amount of time was drawn from profits from a show I wrote upsets me terribly and I would never allow anything I write to play there and will encourage my colleagues to consider doing the same.”

Several others in the theater world were equally horrified. The theater company found themselves faced with a resentful performers, a black-list from creators, and ill will from much of their audience. I think it’s no secret that those who delight in musical theater – gay or straight – are not likely to have voted in mass for Proposition 8.

Eckern did the honorable (and only possible) thing and resigned his position:

“I am disappointed that my personal convictions have cost me the opportunity to do what I love the most which is to continue enriching the Sacramento arts and theatre community,” he said.

His Mormon Church supported his decision.

I may be a bit cynical but I’m inclined to think that the evidence shows that what he really loved the most was adhering to the anti-gay doctrines of his church. Otherwise he’d still be doing all that enriching.

Well the story isn’t over. Protestors have come out to support him.

“This is a witch-hunt,” said Lance Christensen, who says he’s a regular patron of the theater and took off work to show his support for Eckern. “This man has devoted 25 years of his life to theater in Sacramento.”

Something struck me as a bit – shall we say – untheaterish about this crowd. And guess, what. At least some of them have a little extra something in common with Eckern which they didn’t disclose to the reporter.

Take Lance Christensen, for example. Well it turns out that Lance is an alumnus of Pepperdine and BYU and his linkedin “groups” includes the LDS Church. Oh, and that job he took time from? That would be Director of Legislation for the extremely homophobic California State Senator Tom McClintock.

And then there’s that sign in one picture at the Sacramento Bee saying “We love the Eckern Family”. Gosh, most folks never get a chance to know wife and kids of the Artistic Director at their local musical theater.

Hmmmm. Funny coincidence.

UPDATE:

The Chicago Sun-Times indirectly confirms that the “pro-Eckern” rally was not theater-goers but just his friends from church:

“This is not fair – a lot of people wanted this passed, not just Mormons,” said Lynnette Black of Sacramento who rallied in support of Eckern in front of Music Circus last week. “We (church members) worked hard and within the law. It’s very hard to see this attitude toward Mormons.” [emphasis added]

Wouldn’t it be nice if they just told the truth about who they were and why they were there?

Anti-Gay Students Keep Control of Student Government at Sacramento Area Junior College

Timothy Kincaid

October 23rd, 2008

ABC News 10 is reporting

Nine members of American River College’s student association survived a recall effort this week staged in protest of their votes to support a ballot measure seeking to ban gay marriage in California.

You will recall that these students representatives are part of a coalition of Russian evangelicals and Mormons that are using the college’s student government to serve their religious goals. Following an endorsement of Proposition 8, students concerned about their agenda collected enough signatures for a recall. Nine percent of students voted.

For a fascinating narrative of the anti-gay efforts of Russian evangelicals in the Sacramento area, one that features at least one of those students under recall, read Kel Munger’s article Things to do in Sacramento with a megaphone in the Sacramento News and Review.

These are not your usual collection of College Republicans or Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

A partial list of the protests over the last half-dozen years is impressive. The Dividers have protested at Wal-Mart (for saying “Happy Holidays!” instead of “Merry Christmas!”); at theaters that screened Brokeback Mountain, the “gay cowboy” movie; and at other churches, with signs that read, “This is a fake church” (for sins such as offering free gasoline to new members or being too nice to gay people). Luke’s father has dressed up in a devil costume, complete with pitchfork, to make sure people know where they’re headed for not doing things the Divider way.

But this small band of Dividers have focused with laserlike intensity on protesting at gay events, where that “Sodomy is Sin” banner functions as both a calling card and a demand for gays to return to the closet.

And why does this matter?

What conclusions have I come to out of all this? It seems pretty clear that a small group of committed activists—the usual suspects—can stir up a ruckus and attract attention. But it’s also clear that they can alter the climate in a pretty serious way. At ARC, both students who identify as Christian and students who are members of the gay community have told me that they feel targeted. Young men and women there told me in tears that they no longer felt safe at school. A transgender student told me she’d transferred to another community college because she didn’t feel safe on ARC’s campus.

More on ARC Student Recall

Timothy Kincaid

October 22nd, 2008

We told you about the efforts to recall the coalition of Russian immigrants and Mormons in student government at American River College who endorsed Proposition 8. Kel Munger at the Sacramento News and Review has been tracking the story.

He reports student protests and electioneering, a huge turnout, and blatant homophobia printed in Russian. Check out the site for the latest on this fascinating story.

ARC Student Recall Election Update

Timothy Kincaid

October 20th, 2008

On October 1 we reported that the student body government of American River College in Sacramento had endorsed Proposition 8. This triggered a recall effort from frustrated students.

We had noted that five of the supporters were part of the vehemently homophobic Slavic community in Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee provides addition information.

Three of the other student leaders up for recall are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In June, church leaders urged Mormon followers to “do what they can” to support Proposition 8.

Student Association Vice President Blaze Jeppesen, who authored the measure, declined to talk to The Bee about what role, if any, his LDS faith played in his decision to bring the hot-button issue to campus.

Association President Jacob Johnson, who also is a Mormon, said since he was conducting the meetings, he remained impartial. He said he didn’t try to influence the council and didn’t vote on the issue.

But Johnson said his faith is important to him and he supports Proposition 8.

His sister Heather Johnson supported the campus resolution and is on the recall list.

Slavic Students in Sacramento Community College Counsel Endorse Prop 8

Timothy Kincaid

October 1st, 2008

Community colleges are not where one would expect to find endorsment of anti-gay discrimination. But at the American River College, a large community college in Sacramento, Russian immigrant have a large representation on the student counsel, five members.

We have commented before on how the Slavic Immigrant community in Sacramento has become incorporated into an international anti-gay effort, one which has resulted in violence and death. Now in this college student government, the Russians, motivated by their religious ideals, pushed through an endorsement of the anti-gay amendement.

By an 8-3 vote with three abstentions, the council endorsed Proposition 8, the Marriage Protection Amendment that would overturn the state Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex unions if passed Nov. 4.

All five Russians voted for the resolution and the Sacramento Bee is reporting the story with its ethnic overtones.

Councilman Vladimir Musorivschi, 25, of Moldova said the resolution spoke for ARC’s large Russian-speaking population, “mostly all of whom are Christian.”

But even “Christianity” took a back seat to blatant homophobia.

Choban was cursed and shouted down by some of the 200 students in the audience when he told his fellow council members, “don’t be intimidated. The homosexuals are masters of presenting themselves as a civil rights issue. It’s not a civil rights issue; it’s personal choice.”

“They’re the aggressors. They won’t tolerate my opinions,” Choban said.

However, this decision may be one which will result in an immediate termination of their representation of their fellow students. Only 300 students voted in the last student election and “students who support gay marriage said they’ve already collected 450 signatures – enough to force a recall election of the eight council members who voted for the resolution.”

It is disturbing that there does not appear to be a voice of tolerance speaking from within the immigrant Russian community. It would be most welcome.

Mistrial Declared In Sacramento Hate Crimes Case

Jim Burroway

June 20th, 2008

Satendar SinghA mistrial has been declared in the misdemeanor hate crimes trial of Aleksandr Shevchenko, who was charged with disturbing the peace and simple assault for throwing a bottle in a fight that led to Satendar Singh’s death in Sacramento. Satendar died after being punched by Shevchenko’s friend, Andrey Vusik, who has since left the country.

Shevchenko was convicted by a Sacramento jury of the two misdemeanor charges, but the jury was deadlocked on the hate crime allegation after four days of deliberation. It’s unclear whether the District Attorney’s Office will seek a new trial on the hate crime enhancement.

Shevchenko faces up to nine months for the two misdemeanor convictions. Satendar however will still be dead for a very long time.

See also:
What Is A Young Gay Man’s Life Worth?

The Watchmen In Riga, Part 2: From Babylon To Jerusalem

Jim Burroway

November 28th, 2007

(This series on the Watchmen On the Walls conference in Riga, Latvia held Nov. 14-18 is based on the videos posted on the New Generation web site. Translations from Russian were generously provided by Ruslan Porshnev of the Russian LGBT web site Anti-Dogma.)

By mid-morning of the first full day (November 15) of the Watchmen On the Walls conference in Riga, Latvia, the audience experienced quite a few mood changes. The night before, they saw Pastor Alexey Ledyaev’s open the conference with a call to arms, followed by a much cooler talk by American author Scott Lively the following morning. But while Lively’s tone was a bit calmer than Ledyaev’s, his rhetoric was no less aggressive as he described gays and lesbians as followers of the “father of lies” while repeating the oft-repeated phrase heard throughout the conference, “this is a war.”

And war it was, at least rhetorically. And there’s a rhetorical holocaust going on — at least according to the man who took the podium after Lively’s talk that morning.

Vlad KusakinVlad Kusakin is a Russian-speaking immigrant and Sacramento resident. He’s the owner of the Speaker Media Group which publishes a Russian-language newspaper in Sacramento and San Francisco, and he appears on Russian-language talk radio in the Sacramento area. Kusakin is also one of the Watchmen founders.

Kusakin regaled the Riga audience with his account of all of the horrible things that were about to befall Californians since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 777 into law. That law simply adds non-discrimination protections to students based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and disability. But Kusakin’s reading of the law is much bleaker:

Many advocates in California have already expressed their views on this, and one of the comments by our partner, Randy Thomasson [of the Campaign for Children and Families -- ed.], is as follows: “Arnold Schwarzenegger has let Californian kids into the arms of the aggressors, and now in Californian schools during lessons there will be a real moral rape of all students from kindergarten (5 year olds) to 12th graders of high school”.

I also commented on this situation the same way. I made a statement and I confirm it now: “More than 60 years ago someone gave an order in the Nazi’s camps to burn the kids in the furnaces. More than 60 years have passed since then, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, by his signature, opened the same furnaces in all of the public schools in California in order to burn and exterminate our kids.”

I am sure it looks exactly like this, and it is precisely extermination — complete moral extermination.

Vlad KusakinKusakin then went on with more of his reaction to SB 777, where he apparently reaches a point of helpless desperation:

I was speechless and couldn’t think. I could not digest this information. I could not accept or believe that it’s real. I prayed and fasted and God gave me a message which I’d like to share with you today. I’m tired of living as being defeated. And I want to know, why are we always losing in California? When your pastor [Ledyaev] came to Sacramento, I asked him the same question: why are we losing and you are winning?

… I wanted to know the answer: why are we losing? Why are we just reacting? Oh my God, they signed Bill 777, what do we do now? Make a protest? Do a signature drive? We should do something! It gets scary! And we are rushing from one corner to another while the devil is demonically laughing at us and the homosexuals, who think we are worthless, spit on us.

One thing that is clear in reviewing the videos from the Watchmen conference is that many of the speakers are behaving as though they are in a desperate siege. In fact, the very name of the Watchmen On the Walls refers to the Old Testament story from Nehemiah, in which watchmen were placed on the newly restored walls of a ruined Jerusalem following the Babylonian exile during the 6th century, BCE. Those watchmen were to keep a lookout against the many powerful enemies which sought to prevent Jerusalem’s restoration.

Vlad KusakinIf the modern-day Watchmen’s rhetoric tells us anything, it is that they appear to see themselves as standing amongst the ruins of a latter-day Jerusalem while surrounded by diabolical enemies on all sides. And as with men described by Nehemiah, the Watchmen see themselves as men of action. Kusakin concluded by noting that a long term strategy is needed, and he held the example of California, the modern-day Babylon, as a warning:

Above all of God’s grace, I see the fact of my personal defeat, the defeat of my church, the defeat of Christianity in the land where I live, and I do not agree with this. And I want things to change.

And God spoke to me from this point of view; I am absolutely happy now with his answer. I am tired of being a man who is only reacting. I want to be a man who does something — and not just something, but something he knows and understands. I am not against protests, I am not against letters to the governor, I am not against public events, but now I know one thing. All that should be only a part of a thorough strategy for 30-50 years.

If the Church doesn’t have this strategy, any victories we might have today in Latvia, the Church will lose if it doesn’t have a strategy. If you stood firmly on your positions this year and last year and formed a particular attitude in society, and if there’s no correct strategy for 30, 50, 100 years ahead, we will lose here in Latvia just like we are losing in the USA.

Don Feder (left)If Kusakin’s warning about the dangers of homosexuality sounded dire, those worries were compounded that afternoon when Don Feder took the stage. Feder is the author of Who’s Afraid of the Religious Right? To give you an idea of what this man is about, he describes himself this way on his web site:

I’m to the right of [Ariel] Sharon on Zionism, to the right of Pat Buchanan on immigration and Americanism, to the right of Mother Angelica on abortion, to the right of Chuck Heston on Second-Amendment rights, and generally make the legendary Atilla look like a limousine liberal.

If any of this appeals to you, read on. If not, look elsewhere.

At least he has a sense of humor about himself, although none of that humor was on display at Riga. Instead, he gave a talk on what he calls the “demographic winter,” which he began by showing a trailer of a forthcoming documentary by the same name. According to Feder, declining birth rates threaten the very future of Western civilization. In fact, Don Feder called this the “most pressing crisis confronting the human race”:

It’s not global warming, it’s not terrorism, it’s not AIDS — it’s not enough children. Too few people are having children today. Population decline is very much a reality.

Don Feder (left)If that sounds like fiction, it is. In fact, Feder encouraged his audience to read the novel The Children of Men, by P.D. James to understand what he believes the future looks like. In James’ book, the world was struck with a world-wide infertility crisis, and no children had been born for the past twenty-five years. As Feder described James’ book, the world would no longer have baptisms or children playing, and adults would have mass suicides for the elderly and people would loose interest in sex because “sex no longer has an ultimate meaning.” He then spent several minutes dwelling on this book while claiming that life is imitating this particular science fiction, “but it’s happening so gradually that only a few people can see it.” Feder, however, is one of those few.

Feder’s talk was an often contradictory mishmash of half-baked economic and xenophobic theories. Immigrants are having more children than native-born Europeans, and this, Don Feder believes, is the genesis of a non-Christian takeover of Europe. The culprits of this generational suicide include birth control, abortion, later marriages because women are staying in school, Hollywood (which doesn’t portray large families but promotes a “live for a moment ethic”), cohabitation, and homosexual marriage (“the one union that can’t possible produce children!”).

So now it’s mid-afternoon, and the audience had already by this time heard Scott Lively’s account of the battle between the followers of “The God of Truth” against those who follow the “Father Of Lies.” And they heard Vlad Kusakin bemoan the fact that in America at least, his side is losing. Feder reinforced that message with his dark predictions for the collapse of Western Civilization due to its inability to have large families.

But the Watchmen aren’t all about complaining and moaning, not by a long shot. As Kusakin said, they are also about action. We’ll investigate some of what that action looks like later.

(Thanks to Ruslan Porshnev of the Russian LGBT web site Anti-Dogma, for generously providing the English translations of the Russian speakers at the conference. You can read more about his work here.)

See also:
The Watchmen In Riga, Part 1: “Become A Missionary To America”
The Watchmen In Riga, Part 2: From Babylon To Jerusalem
The Watchmen In Riga, Interlude: A Pastor’s Prayer
The Watchmen In Riga, Part 3: The “Secrets” Of Homosexuality
The Watchmen In Riga, Part 4: “A Militant Army Marching Against Evil”

The Watchmen: Protections for LGBT Youth Worse Than Holocaust Furnaces

Jim Burroway

October 18th, 2007

Earlier this week, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed several pieces of legislation which improves the rights of LGBT residents of that state. Much of that legislation is designed to protect students from harassment and bullying in public schools by making sure teachers and school administrators fully understand their responsibilities to protect youth.

These protections for LGBT youth have generated howls of protest among leading anti-gay activists. Not the least of them are the Watchmen On the Walls, an emerging international anti-gay extremist group we’ve been monitoring recently. The Watchmen will be meeting in Lynnewood, Washington this weekend. We’ve already offered a preview of some of the virulent, hate-inducing rhetoric emanating from that group from a Watchmen conference held last August in Novosibirsk.

Another glimpse into what we might find at the upcoming confab can be found in last weekend’s Watchmen gathering in Sacramento to protest the governor’s latest moves. For example, Randy Thomasson of the Campaign for Children and Families spoke at that Watchmen meeting and said that the new laws in California will leave children “morally raped” in the classroom. And then there’s this, from a translation of the Watchmen’s Russian-language web site:

Vlad Kusakin, human rights activist and owner of “The Speaker” media holding company, told the audience: “Now it’s time to rescue our children from the public schools as from a hellish furnace. Just like one who would prescribe the burning of kids in the Nazi’s concentration camps furnaces, now 65 years later Arnold Schwarzenegger opened furnaces which are even worse for our children by his signature. Pray and fast for the kids and families of California and take your kids out of public schools”.

We earlier reported on Scott Lively’s influence in the Slavic-American evangelical community. That influence comes mainly from his book, The Pink Swastika, where he blames gay people as being behind the formation of the Nazi Party and carrying out the Holocaust. This theory has been readily accepted among a population who suffered mightily at the hands of the Nazis during World War II. You can see this reflected in Kusakin’s remarks.

Lively, who with Seattle-area pastor Kenneth Hutcherson, and Riga, Latvia megachurch pastor Alexey Ledyaev, founded the Watchmen. Lively also spoke in Sacramento. Again, according to the Russian language web site:

Scott Lively, human rights activist, historian and lawyer, stated that “in American legislatures there are ways to pass, as well as to repeal, any law. Therefore, the only thing we’re lacking in the struggle for Judeo-Christian morality is the unity of the churches and the courage of clergy. Let’s put away our denominational ambitions and unite our prayers and efforts for the sake of rescuing the civilization.”

George Neverov cited statistics on deaths and diseases among homosexuals, and he also demonstrated that 3% of population is dictating the moral principles of life for the rest of overwhelming majority: “For how long shall we cowardly bend before a morality that is alien to us? For how long shall we swallow all that loathsome stuff that is imposed on us by immoral law-makers and minorities? When, O Church, will you raise in prayer and spiritual battle over the land that is entrusted to you?”

Ken Hutchison dismissed objections to the Watchmen’s violent rhetoric, telling The Seattle Times: “You’re going to have extremists on any aspect on any teaching.” But these extremists aren’t just some fringe part of the Watchmen movement. Lively and Kusakin, along with Hutcherson, are among the most prominent U.S.-based leaders. In the Watchmen world, these guys don’t represent the extremes; they’re at the very the core of the movement.

The SPLC’s Casey Sanchez reported that the Watchmen “routinely deliver hateful screeds on the airwaves and from the pulpit in their native tongue that, were they delivered in English, would be a source of nationwide controversy.” Maybe it’s time we learned a little Russian.

Thanks to Ruslan Porshnev for his help with the translations.