Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

Prop 8: Let the Protests Begin

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on November 15, 2008

JOHN GIBBINS / Union-Tribune: Marchers stream down Sixth Avenue on their way to the San Diego County Administration Center on Harbor Drive.

Sign on San Diego

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.

Gay Marriage in Peril in California

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on October 22, 2008

Wall Street Journal

A state ballot measure to ban gay marriage in California is gaining momentum, with polls showing almost even odds of it passing after trailing by double digits a month ago.

Prop8In June, the state legalized same-sex marriages. The next month, Proposition 8, defining marriage as between a man and a woman, was put on the ballot for November. Initial polling showed that a majority of Californians were likely to vote against Proposition 8. A Sept. 18 poll by the San Francisco-based Field Poll found the measure losing 55% to 38% among likely voters.

But now the measure is favored 48% to 45% among likely voters questioned in an Oct. 17 poll by Survey USA of Verona, N.J. The poll’s margin of error, four percentage points, means the results were a statistical tie.

A group leading the fight against the measure, Equality for All, said this week that one of its internal polls shows Proposition 8 leading by four percentage points. The close results of that poll, too, may suggest a dead heat as the Nov. 4 election approaches.

“The outcome will be close because Californians are evenly divided on gay marriage,” said Mark Baldassare, chief executive of the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California in San Francisco. A new poll by the institute, due out late Wednesday, is expected to show a tight race. The measure needs a simple majority vote to pass.

Proposition 8 was initiated after the state’s Supreme Court said in May that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, paving the way for the legalization of gay marriage in California starting June 17. Same-sex marriages are also legal in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The issue has come up in the presidential campaign, with Republican Sen. John McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, suggesting this week that she would support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage nationwide. The outcome of California’s battle could affect whether states move to recognize gay marriages.

Supporters of Proposition 8 have gained ground by capitalizing on their opponents’ missteps. They have been running a television ad for several weeks that shows San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom delivering a boisterous response to a throng of supporters after the state Supreme Court ruling. “The door’s wide open now. It’s going to happen, whether you like it or not,” the Democratic mayor says loudly.

“Gavin Newsom has been a great player on our team,” said Sonja Eddings Brown, spokeswoman for Protect Marriage California, a group that has been leading the “Yes on 8” campaign.

Pollsters say that fueling the rise in support for Proposition 8 is an advertising blitz heavily bankrolled by the Mormon Church, which suggests, among other things, that if Proposition 8 doesn’t pass then schoolchildren will be indoctrinated about gay marriage.

Between 30% and 40% of the $25.5 million in donations raised as of last week by the “Yes” campaign has come from the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, supporters of the measure say. “Yes” campaigners say the Mormons are just one of many religious groups that support the ban.

Officials in San Francisco — a national pioneer in recognizing gay marriages — have come out strongly against the Mormon Church’s campaign. “This is a blood feud on their part,” said Therese Stewart, chief deputy city attorney of San Francisco.

[Marriage]

A Mormon Church spokesman said it is acting only as a part of a broad coalition of groups opposed to gay marriage. “The campaign has had the support of over 60,000 individual contributors, the majority of which are not Mormons,” Mormon spokesman Michael Purdy said in a statement. Mormon leaders, on the church’s official Web site, ask their followers to support the California ballot measure to reinforce church teachings that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.”

Proposition 8 opponents are scrambling to turn back the tide. They have raised about $20 million by enlisting powerful allies such as the state teachers and nurses unions. The “No” campaign also is unleashing its own attack ads. “Unfair, Unnecessary, and Wrong,” says one new ad, which calls attention to a wave of newspaper, union and other endorsements against the measure.

Proposition 8 draws its heaviest support in Republican strongholds such as the Central Valley and Inland Empire of Southern California, according to recent polls. Its biggest opposition is coming from Democratic bastions such as San Francisco and Los Angeles along the coast.

But two Democratic constituencies — African-Americans and Latinos — are leaning toward the ban. Among likely black voters, 58% supported Proposition 8 compared with 38% who opposed it in the most recent Survey USA poll. Among Latinos, 47% supported the proposition while 41% opposed it; white voters were nearly evenly split. The reason, “Yes” officials say, is that church attendance is strong in many minority communities.

As a result, both sides are lobbying to corral votes in minority neighborhoods. Tuesday, for instance, African-American leaders in Oakland and Los Angeles held news conferences opposing the ban. The same day, other African-American leaders in those cities came out in support of Proposition 8.

Write to Jim Carlton at jim.carlton@wsj.com