November 15th, 2008

golden gate bridge

Perfect Day for a Protest

Really awesome write-ups and photos from all around the country:;jsessionid=20EB36801D27B2D54BC3555301B53515?diaryId=8237

And now, for my contribution. First of all, today was gorgeous. Perfectly clear blue sky, temperatures easily in the 70s, a light breeze. Literally, I don't think we could have asked for better weather. So that was a plus, although the minus is that I didn't bring a hat. I did wear sunblock, at least.

A, who was in town for work this week, and SB came from from Sunnyvale to join us; we left the house around 10am and arrived a little before 10:30. R & S met us there, and we walked over to the Civic Center, where the protesters had gathered in front of City Hall. We hadn't gotten our act together to make signs, so we were mostly there to add our voices and our headcount. Speakers included current State Senator Carole Migden, her recently-elected replacement Mark Leno (who sponsored the two bills legalizing same-sex marriage that the CA Legislature passed but the Governator vetoed), the Rev. Amos Brown (who was easily the most inspiring and charismatic of the lot -- no surprise, since he was taught by Dr. King himself), and many local community members and organizers. Unfortunately, it was hard to hear much and impossible to see at all, because they spoke on the steps of City Hall, not a raised platform, and the sound system was really inadequate. The chant we heard most frequently wasn't any particular call for equal rights, but rather the word "Louder!" But what I could hear was mostly energizing and hopeful, and it was nice to be part of a crowd. As we were walking from the subway to the plaza, we were all trying to remember the last time we had been part of a group action like this, and I decided it was probably my freshman year of college, when A and I went down to Washington DC with a bunch of other BMC folks for the March for Women's Lives. There's something exhilarating about being surrounded by people who feel strongly enough to get up early on a Saturday to lend their voices to a cause.

So the rally held in place for about an hour and a half, and then a group of folks broke off into a march. After about half the crowd had left, a speaker told us that the march was unofficial, but anyone was welcome to join. So we consulted, and then decided to follow. We marched down Polk Street to Market, then turned right to head for Castro. Clearly this march had not been planned, because except for Polk, none of the streets were officially closed, although there were cops around and they did direct traffic for us. Anyway, our turn toward the Castro led to some debate as to whether that neighborhood was really the best place to demonstrate in favor of gay marriage -- I think I said something about coals to Newcastle -- but then we reached Van Ness, and a large group had switched directions, shouting "Turn around, go downtown!" And we saw the effectiveness of chants and mob rule as the majority of walkers did indeed follow. We discussed our options; hunger beat out curiosity, and so we headed to Hayes Valley for lunch.

So it wasn't the best organized event ever. But it was satisfying, and I continue to be energized enough to stay involved. I don't know that there's much to do while the various cases wind their way through court, but I will keep my ears open for opportunities to lend my voice and my time.

Some more of T's photos here.