A sign that read “Save Marriage From Bigotry” poked out from a sea of umbrellas at Willard Park in Cleveland, Ohio Saturday, where people gathered to protest the passage of gay marriage bans in California, Florida and Arizona on November 4.

Despite a bitter cold wind and drenching rain, an estimated crowd of 300 gathered at the corner of East 9th and Lakeside Ave. only blocks away from City Hall, where an ironic rubber stamp sculpture rests with the word FREE.

Several police cars surrounded the protest, but there was no visible evidence of counter-protesters and plenty of passersby in cars honked in support.

Cities across America – and some international cities, as well – participated in Join the Impact, a grassroots response to passage of California's gay marriage ban patched together in one week from social websites on the Internet and text messaging.

Traffic at the event's official site jointheimpact.com was so strong it overwhelmed the website and crashed the server, organizers said.

Protesting the passage of California's gay marriage ban in cities outside of California is just another sign of the heartbreak felt by the gay and lesbian community nationwide.

“Civil marriages are a civil right, and we're going to keep fighting until we get the rights we deserve as American citizens,” Karen Amico, who was protesting in Philadelphia, told The Associated Press.

“We are the American family, we live next door to you, we teach your children, we take care of your elderly,” said Heather Baker in Boston. “We need equal rights across the country.”

“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 at San Francisco's rally.

“I'm proud to be a black woman, and I'm proud to be gay,” comedian Wanda Sykes told the crowd attending a Las Vegas rally.

“Gay, straight, black, white. Marriage equality is a civil right,” protesters chanted at a rally in Albany, New York.

“Equal rights for all God's children,” a speaker said in Cleveland.

“No one in this country should be a second-class citizen,” Kellan Baker who helped organize the event told a crowd of more than 500 at Lafayette Park across from the White House.

The wildfire of protests sparked by California voters' decision to amend their constitution to ban gay marriage has been the unforeseen political boomerang that stunned both traditional suit-and-tie gay activists and opponents of gay marriage.

There was only a minuscule outcry heard when thirty states began banning gay marriage ten years ago, but California has been a game changer.

In California, voters not only banned gay marriage, they also reversed a California Supreme Court ruling issued in May that allowed gay marriages to begin. That ruling was based on the equal protection clause of the California constitution. Passage of the gay marriage ban leaves 18,000 gay marriages hanging by a thread.

Months before Election Day, resentment started brewing on the Internet over the notion that it is fair or democratic to revoke rights granted by the constitution and upheld by the California Supreme Court, providing a ready-made base of pro-gay foot soldiers eager to express their disappointment; it only took a text message or social invitation to propel thousands to protest.

Seattle blogger Amy Balliett, one of the organizers of Join the Impact, said she expected 1 million people to protest in unison Saturday against gay marriage bans at over 300 rallies nationwide.