San Diego denounces Prop 8 court ruling
Published Jun 6, 2009 4:07 PM
Only eight hours after the announcement of the California Supreme Court’s
prejudice-based ruling supporting Prop 8 on May 26, 5,000 disappointed, sad,
but mostly angry San Diegans stormed out of Balboa Park onto Sixth Avenue and
chanted their way to the heart of downtown. Taking the full width of
median-divided Broadway, the protesters marched through the canyon with signs
and banners held high until they reached the so-called “Hall of
Justice” courthouse for a “Day of Decision” rally.
At the San Diego sit-in are, from left, Michael
Anderson, who was there to
Baumgardner; Zakiya Khabir, San Diego Alliance
Equality organizer; and Adrian
Rodriguez and Jonathan Goetz, who were also
demanding the right to marry.
WW photo: Zola Rices Muhammad
Speakers there included the city’s mayor, one of whose daughters is a
lesbian; Miguel, a gay Latino man from Iowa who is legally married to his
partner; other community members; and local lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender leaders. Miguel told the crowd, “I live in a state that says
marriage is between a man and a woman. But I’m married to a guy, and
I’m not going to stop working until all people have that right. This will
not be simple, but Martin Luther King and Harvey Milk were great heroes who
fought against discrimination, and we have to work at least as hard as they
The next day, a dramatic escalation of the struggle for equal marriage rights
was organized by the San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality. As the noon hour
struck at the County Administration Building, Michael Anderson, a 27-year-old
warehouse worker, and Brian Baumgardner, a 26-year-old bartender, entered the
San Diego County Clerk’s office on the second floor and asked for a
Following them into the office, and witness to the staff member’s polite
refusal based on Prop 8 and the previous day’s court ruling, were a lot
of media and a diverse assortment of community members and supporters: men and
women; high school and college students, workers taking a day off and seniors;
African Americans, Latinas/os and whites; seasoned activists and those new to
the struggle; and a contingent of LGBT people and straight allies.
At the height of the five-hour sit-in that unfolded, close to 70 people were
involved, some moving between the office and the support rally outside.
It’s hard to believe that any work got done that afternoon, at least in
that wing of the administration building. Brian and Michael’s supporters
sang and chanted tirelessly to thundering effect, stopping only periodically
for loud readings of inspiring printed material distributed by the organizers
and personal testimonials from almost everyone present.
In tears, a straight woman who had been married in this very office three years
earlier expressed her feeling that it was unacceptable that others were being
refused this beautiful experience. Rhythm Turner, a young lesbian, spoke of the
hate crime she had been the target of recently. Several people identified
themselves as Christians and several others as heterosexuals needing to express
their solidarity with those of us being denied our civil rights. Other speakers
addressed the need to continue reaching out, winning new allies and, above all,
staying active in the struggle.
During the course of the afternoon, another gay couple and a lesbian couple
entered the occupied office and unsuccessfully requested marriage applications.
They were welcomed with cheers and noisy chanting. Among the most popular
chants of the afternoon were “We are ready—sí se
puede!—to get married—sí se puede!” “Justice
won’t wait! Repeal Prop 8!” “Homophobia must go!” and
“Obama! Obama! Let Momma marry Momma!”
Some minutes after the office officially closed at 5 o’clock, the
protesters, still chanting, filed out for a final rally on the steps of the
building. “We’ll be back! We’ll be bigger!” they
Several corporate media organizations attempted to use the lack of arrests
following the sit-in to criticize the protesters. However, the people in
struggle will decide what tactics are appropriate in any given situation, with
no particular interest, really, in what the expectations of the big-business
media might be.
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