Sunday, November 16, 2008
Yesterday, November 15th, people across the country protested against the passing of proposition 8.
The events were planned so that they would occur more or less simultaneously, which is a cool concept, except if you're in Hawaii and had to protest at 8am on a Saturday!
Despite there being a huge event in San Francisco, I stayed local, and went with some friends to the Oakland Rally for Marriage Equality. I think it was important to show that it's not just the rich boys in the Castro who are angry, but people all over the state and even the country.
Oakland was a smaller affair. I can't find figures on how many people, but maybe 1,000? There were speakers who touched on many facets of the struggle, some chanting, a pair of stilt-walkers who tried to waltz, and a drum circle at the end. One woman read from Audre Lorde's work and her own. It was a very "Oakland" crowd--diverse, economically and racially/ethnically, laid back, and there were loads of families, some clergy members (I don't know from which denominations), young, old, able, disabled....
The most engaging speaker, in my opinion (though they all had great things to say), was new Oakland City Council-person Rebecca Kaplan. She's the first out Lesbian to serve on Oakland's City Council, and she's great. I kind of wish that I still lived in Oakland, so that I could vote for her, but even so, I think that Oakland's in good hands. She's brilliantly smart (actually, she went to MIT with Celeste), a great speaker, down to earth, and hopefully the antidote to some of the smarmy nepotistic crap that seems to come up in Oakland politics sometimes.
Anyway, she talked about how she won by this unexpectedly huge margin, and then heard the prop. 8 results and spent the whole next day crying. She talked about the supreme court ruling that made it possible for convicted murderers to get married, when they had previously not been allowed. She expressed outrage that when it comes to marriage, murderers are welcome, same sex couples are not.
(I cannot find anything about this court decision, so if you happen to know, could you tell me? I'd love to be able to check the specifics)
The crowd was peaceful and respectful, and the atmosphere was laid back and very family friendly. Frank Ogawa plaza is a sunken amphitheater thingy, and there's a wide, flat area at the bottom that was swarming with little kids. They were able to get closest to the speakers, which was cool. One of my favorite signs was "I support all famlies" (yes, spelled like that) which was held by a little girl in a red baseball cap.
The speakers also urged the crowd to be respectful of people of faith, which didn't seem like a problem at this particular rally, but some activists have been attacking religions or the religious, which waters down our hope for acceptance of ALL people, if you ask me....
I carried a sign. It took me ridiculously long to make, considering how simple it is:
Of the 3 friends that were with me, I was the only one who thought to make a sign, so we passed it around and took turns with it....
You can see more pictures of the event here, and read a write-up here. Most Bay Area media seems to be covering San Francisco, which makes sense on the one hand, since it's a bigger city with a bigger rally, but it would be great to get some firm information about how many people were there...
So there you have it. My morning/afternoon of peaceful protest. We couldn't have asked for better weather (it was in the high 70's and sunny), and the terrible winds from the night before died down so there were no fly away signs.