Gay rights activists in Los Angeles
took to the streets by the thousands Thursday to express their anger
at passage of Proposition 8 – the California constitutional
amendment that once again makes gay marriage in the state verboten.
And at least seven protests in various California cities were planned
for Friday, three for Saturday and one on Sunday.
The fury against proponents of the gay
marriage ban had been visible on the Internet and streets of
California for some time, but Tuesday's approval of the gay marriage
ban washed away much of the barrier that had been holding most of it
Much of that anger is directed at the
role played by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the
Mormons) in passing the anti-gay amendment.
Thursday's gay marriage ban protest
targeted a Mormon temple in the Westwood area of Los Angeles, where
the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center announced a campaign to raise money
towards efforts to invalidate Proposition 8, which included sending a
postcard to Mormon President Thomas Monson. The announcement sparked
a near-spontaneous protest that gridlocked traffic for hours as it
nosily spilled into the streets with chants of “Separate church and
state” and “What do we want? Equal rights.” Marchers carried
signs that read “No More Mr. Nice Gay,” “No on H8” and “I
didn't vote against your marriage.” Hundreds more chanted “Mormon
A protest in Salt Lake City, Utah drew
another 2,000 protesters who waved rainbow flags outside the
headquarters of the Mormon Church. Signs that read “Mormons: Once
persecuted, now persecutors” were visible among the rainbow flags,
a symbol of gay identity.
Mormon involvement in the gay marriage
ban was based primarily out of the Mormon stronghold of Utah,
headquarters of the Mormon Church, where members make up a majority
(62%) of the population. At the urging of Monson, the hard-working
Mormon ethic churned out massive donations of time and money. Some
estimate Mormon members accounted for as much as 75% of the $36
million raised to promote the gay marriage ban.
During the campaign, gay groups had
called for protests and boycotts against the largest donors
supporting the anti-gay amendment, but stopped short of calling for
protests against religious groups, the primary backers and funders of
the gay marriage ban.
But a Mormon Church boycott by way of
Utah is now taking shape on the Internet. Gay rights activist John
Aravosis of the popular americablog.com website is calling for skiers
to avoid Utah's world-class powder and lodges, and for Hollywood to
ignore Robert Redford's
Utah-based Sundance Film Festival.
Aravosis said Utah was “a hate state”
in calling for its boycott.
“The main focus is going to be going
after the Utah brand,” he told The Associated Press. “At
this point, honestly, we're going to destroy the Utah brand.”
Church spokeswoman Kim Farah called the
notion of a Mormon boycott “disturbing.”
“While those who disagree with our
position on Proposition 8 have the right to make their feelings
known, it is wrong to target the church and its sacred places of
worship for being part of the democratic process,” Farah said.
Others have called for the withholding
of taxes to the state of California until the right of marriage for
gays and lesbians is restored. Openly gay singer Melissa Etheridge
recently announced her support for the idea which has flared up on
the Internet every so often.
“Okay. So Prop 8 passed. Alright, I
get it. 51% of you think that I am a second class citizen. ... [I'm]
taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am
not a full citizen. I mean that would just be wrong, to make someone
pay taxes and not give them the same rights, sound sort like that
taxation without representation thing from the history books,”
Etheridge wrote in a blog post Thursday on thedailybeast.com.
generally composed Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese
joined the chorus of activist calling for greater confrontation.
believe that each and every one of us who has been hurt by this
hateful ballot measure, and each and every one of us who is still
fighting to be equal, has to confront the neighbors who hurt us,”
Solmonese wrote on the HRC website. “We have to say to the man
with the Yes on 8 sign – you disrespected my humanity, and I am not
giving you a pass.”
crowd of 1,000 protesters gathered on Friday at San Francisco's Civic
Center and marched down Market Street during rush hour. And in Long
Beach, another 2,000 protesters joined in support of gay rights,
where three people were arrested,
reports The Associated
all the protests, lawyers working for pro-gay rights groups in
California announced Wednesday they would challenge the legality of
the gay marriage ban.
American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center
for Lesbian Rights, filed a writ petition before the California
Supreme Court asking for the anti-gay amendment to be invalidated.
The groups argue that the gay marriage
ban is invalid because it alters the constitution's “core
commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental
right from just one group, lesbian and gay Californians.”
“If the voters approved an initiative
that took the right to free speech away from women, but not from men,
everyone would agree that such a measure conflicts with the basic
ideals of equality enshrined in our constitution,” Jenny Pizer, a
staff attorney with Lambda Legal, said in a statement announcing the
The pro-gay rights groups say the gay
marriage ban used an improper vehicle – a voter ballot – to alter
the constitution. They contend that such a measure is only valid
when making superficial changes to the constitution. To change the
underlying principles of the constitution, a measure must first be
approved by the legislature before being submitted to the voters on a
ballot. Proposition 8 radically alters the California constitution
by removing rights previously given by the constitution itself, and
relied on the voter
ballot to accomplish its goal.
“A major purpose of the constitution
is to protect minorities from majorities,” said Elizabeth Gill, a
staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. “Because
changing that principle is a fundamental change to the organizing
principles of the constitution itself, only the legislature can
initiate such revisions to the constitution.”
The pro-gay rights groups said there is
historical precedent for the California Supreme Court to strike down
an improper voter initiative. In 1990, a voter-approved initiative
that sought to “strip California's courts of their role as
independent interpreters of the state's constitution” was
overturned by the court.