200 march against California Supreme Court ruling

by Laura Kiritsy
Friday May 29, 2009

In response to the California Supreme Court's ruling upholding Proposition 8, the state's voter-approved anti-gay constitutional amendment, more than 200 people turned out to voice their disapproval of the decision at a rally in Boston on the evening of May 26.

While the crowd that amassed on the Copley Square green was peaceful, many expressed their anger with the protest signs they held aloft: "I can't believe we still have to protest this crap," read a bright yellow sign held by one young man in the back of the crowd. Another youthful gay male protester's sign asked, "Would you rather I marry your daughter?"

"How many of you are angry today?" asked the Rev. E. Carrington Heath, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ, to loud shouts and cheers from the crowd.

"I'm angry, too," Heath replied. "I'm angry because people who say that they adhere to the same faith as I do went out there and sowed hate instead of love They sowed a perverted version of what I believe as means to take away your civil rights, and that's wrong."

The campaign to pass Prop 8 received a massive amount of funding and organizational support from the Mormon Church, in addition to being supported by the Roman Catholic Church, evangelical mega-church pastor Rick Warren and Focus on the Family, the national evangelical powerhouse.

Organized by Join the Impact Massachusetts, an affiliate of the national grassroots LGBT advocacy group Join the Impact, the Boston protest was one of about 100 "Day of Decision" protests held in cities across the country to protest the California high court's decision. The ruling upheld the validity of the 18,000 same-sex marriages performed in California prior to Prop 8's passage last November but also held that Proposition 8 was valid since same-sex couples still enjoyed access to all of the rights and benefits accorded same-sex couples under the state's expansive domestic partnership law.

"[S]ame-sex couples continue to enjoy the same substantive core benefits afforded by those state constitutional rights as those enjoyed by opposite-sex couples - including the constitutional right to enter into an officially recognized and protected family relationship with the person of one's choice and to raise children in that family if the couple so chooses - with the sole, albeit significant, exception that the designation of 'marriage' is, by virtue of the new state constitutional provision, now reserved for opposite-sex couples," wrote the 6 to 1 majority in a 135-page opinion, which was issued on the morning of May 26.

But state Rep. Carl Sciortino pointed out that the ruling has created three classes of citizens in California and blasted the ruling as "absurd."

"You have straight people who can get married and divorced as they see fit," Sciortino said in remarks to the crowd. "You have 18,000 gay couples who were lucky enough to get married before Prop 8 passed and have partial equality as long as they never get divorced and want to get married again," he added to muted laughter from the crowd. "Right? And you have every other LGBT resident of that state that has been denied access to marriage equality.

"So you have three classes of citizens and that is fundamentally absurd by any standard, any legal rationale and any excuse that court could make that is absurd and unacceptable," said the openly gay lawmaker to cheers from the protesters.

Though same-sex couples are fortunate enough to enjoy civil marriage rights in the Bay State, said Sciortino, "even our own residents, our own same-sex couples here in Massachusetts are never going to be truly equal until they can cross borders and go down to the next state or go across [the country] to a state and have full equality everywhere."

Sciortino acknowledged recent marriage equality victories in Vermont and Maine, but emphasized that those victories need to be protected, particularly in Maine, where the newly-passed marriage equality law will most likely be on the ballot in November through a referendum process known as "the people's veto." Sciortino, as did several other speakers at the protest, implored the crowd to help prevent a Prop. 8-like scenario in Maine by joining the campaign to preserve marriage equality in that state. "We need to make sure that everyone of us, just as we got engaged here in Massachusetts - just as we went door to door in every community across this state - we need to engage our neighbors to the north ... and tell them that equality works," he said. "It works for everyone and everyone is free when everyone is equal. We need to spread that message to Maine."

Throughout the crowd, Join the Impact volunteers armed with clipboards
signed up volunteers for canvassing trips to Maine; the group made its first trek north over the Memorial Day weekend.

Sciortino also made a pitch for protesters to contact their legislators in support of the trans rights bill, his proposal to amend the state's anti-discrimination laws to include protections for transgender people. "We have 104 cosponsors. We have enough votes to win but we need you to raise your voices and tell your own state reps and your own state senators that that bill is a priority and we need to get it passed right now, this session, to guarantee equality for all," he said cheers and applause. "So please contact your legislators."

Legal advocates and LGBT leaders across the country had long been vocal about their expectation that the California Supreme Court would not overturn Prop 8, yet the decision clearly still stung marriage equality supporters in Massachusetts and across the country. But longtime activist Sue Hyde of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force was quick to point out to the crowd that,

"It's not the first time it didn't go the way we had hoped."

"And what are we gonna do?" she asked the protestors.

"Fight back!" they responded, in unison.

Copyright Bay Windows. For more articles from New England's largest GLBT newspaper, visit


  • , 2009-05-29 17:27:06

    I think the state of California will have to consider the consequences of gay and lesbian couples who choose to live out of state to where marriage is legal. A considerable amount of wealth will be lost to other states if couples decide to move to other states. Any for what, upholding hate and paranoia?

  • , 2009-05-29 20:27:17

    I, a straight male, marched in support of gay marriage because once a right is legally granted it is impermissible to rescind it by popular vote, and because I support Love In The Highest. The Lord could not create a gay person and a straight person and not love both equally, and not intend that they have equal rights. There is a war going on. The opponents are love vs. fear (hate is derived from fear). It is not a war of violence, it is a war of justice. Love will be our sword and our shield, and we will win in the end. The march was led by our brave Christian pastor. She is not gay, yet supports gay marriage because she fully understands the meaning of Love In The Highest, and joyously affirmed it to us all. The denomination under which she was ordained does not support gay marriage and threatens any minister who performs them with being defrocked. Yet, she rebelled and presided over many gay marriages, both at our church and elsewhere. When she was brought up for inquisition, with unflinching defiance she declared, "I stand for love, so take your best shot". Because she was aglow with the holy spirit, her inquisitors backed down. Ultimately, Love In The Highest will always defeat hate.

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