Prop 8: Let the Protests Begin
SAN DIEGO – A crowd estimated at 10,000 by police and 15,000 by organizers marched downtown Saturday to protest the passage of Proposition 8, with one arrest of a counter-protester reported during the otherwise peaceful event.
A man identified by police as a member of the anti-illegal immigration group San Diego Minutemen was arrested about 12:30 p.m. at Sixth Avenue and Ash Street following a fight, said San Diego police Capt. C.J. Ball.
The San Diego march was one of several held across the country Saturday – including one in Escondido – by same-sex marriage supporters angered over last week’s passage of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California, defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
The San Diego march got under way about 10:45 a.m. at Sixth Avenue and Upas Street in Hillcrest. The marchers went down Sixth, then west on Broadway, then north on Harbor Drive to the County Administration Center on the Embarcadero. A rally was held there at 1 p.m., and marchers formed a large rainbow sign, a symbol of the gay-rights movement.
Protesters are urging their supporters to keep fighting for the right to wed, and would like the California Supreme Court to invalidate Prop. 8.
Marchers carried signs with a myriad of statements, including “Let Mary marry Mary” and “Has anyone seen my civil rights?” Others said: “Don’t make love a battleground”; “It’s not anarchy, it’s equality”; and “My happiness will not hurt you.”Prior to the march, organizers handed out fliers with words for chants, including “Love is great, No on 8”; and “Gay, straights, black, white, marriage is a civil right.”
The marches were organized nationwide by Join the Impact. Sara Beth Brooks, 23, was the organizer of San Diego’s march. She said she read about Join the Impact online.
“This is amazing,” she said before the event got under way. “I cannot believe this came together in seven days. It’s fantastic. I’m looking forward to a peaceful, productive march.”
Police reported few problems, and there were few counter-protesters.
Representatives of Join the Impact had asked supporters to be respectful and refrain from attacking other groups during the rallies.
In San Diego, David Cruz was one of about four counter-protesters holding “Yes on 8” signs at one point along the march route. Cruz said he wanted to remind marchers that the majority of voters had spoken by passage of Prop. 8. The measure passed with 52 percent of the vote in the Nov. 4 election.
“They are not going to overturn the will of the majority,” said Cruz, 34, a College Area resident.
Just after he spoke, marcher David Gonzales pushed toward Cruz, screaming that he was a disgrace. March volunteers kept them separated and Gonzales moved on.
“He looks like he’s Hispanic, like me,” said Gonzales, 45, a La Jolla resident. “A lot of voters of my ethnicity voted for this. They don’t realize this is about civil rights.”
A few of the marchers were colorfully dressed, including two men dressed like nuns. Some Prop. 8 demonstrations have targeted faiths that supported the ban, including the Mormon church.
Michael Mangoian, 63, of City Heights, who said he had been a seminary student in Rome, was dressed like a priest.
“It lends a little credibility, because those who are trying to take rights away from others are being extremely un-Christian,” Mangoian said.
Sixty volunteers wearing yellow shirts showed up early Saturday and planned to monitor the march to defuse tension between marchers and possible counter-demonstrators. Some met Thursday night for-crowd control training.
Prior to the march, an organizer on a megaphone told participants they wanted the event to be peaceful.
Meanwhile, in Escondido, a crowd of about 250 people gathered at Escondido City Hall to march to Grape Day Park for a noon rally protesting Proposition 8. As in San Diego, they also chanted and carried signs.
One woman held a sign that read, “Together 26 years, married 6-20-2008. Support our marriage, repeal Prop. 8.” Another woman’s sign said, “I kissed a girl and my mom still loves me.”
Protests against Proposition 8 have been occurring all week, including a Nov. 8 march in San Diego that drew 8,000 to 10,000 people.
At UC San Diego in La Jolla on Friday, some students walked out of class and gathered at the campus’ Price Center to demand that the university take a stand on the issue.