Against the cool backdrop of Mies van der Rohe’s Modernist towers, amid the chill of November weather, warm camaraderie carried the day as thousands* of people flooded Federal Plaza Saturday morning to rally against the passage of California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriages. It was part of the National Day of Protest, a simultaneous gathering of pro-gay rights activists and supporters all across the country.
* around five thousand folks, if I had to take a stab at it. The Sun-Times calls it 2,000, but that sounds way too small.
A succession of speakers addressed the crowds, with a range of messages, ranging from hope and love to self-righteous fury. But the overriding themes of the day were hope, rationally focused anger, and continued peaceful but forceful activism. Prop 8 may be a California state law, but ultimately it affects all of us, in Illinois and beyond. It’s a matter of civil rights, of separation of church and state, of the government unduly interfering in private lives, of discrimination… the list goes on and on.
A pathetically tiny group of counter-protesters gathered across the street, bearing such unconvincing slogans as “IT’S NOT NATURAL”. The rally crowd pretty much had wit firmly on their side, however. Some choice samples:
- “When do I get to vote on your marriage?”
- “Focus on your own family.”
- “Homophobia is so 1997”
- “Church and state… not such a good marriage!!!”
- “If God didn’t make homosexuals, there wouldn’t BE any!”
- “In 1967, 16 states banned interracial marriage”
- “Overcome H8 / Overturn 8”
- “My faith backs MARRIAGE EQUALITY”
- “Tax exemption – take it away”
- “Gay marriage doesn’t scare me / but no healthcare does!”
- “Land of the free? It’s unConstitutional to take away my rights!!! I pay taxes too!”
- “Our love does not affect your religion”
- “If a child needs a mother and a father, then OUTLAW DIVORCE”
- “What kind of family teaches hate and discrimination?”
- “No state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law”
Man, I kinda like that last one. They should make it a law or something!
After the last speaker finished, a short march followed, with the crowd trooping down Adams Street and up Michigan Avenue toward Millennium Park.
Traffic was briefly obstructed when part of the crowd decided to hang out in the middle of Michigan Avenue instead of marching onwards, which was about the only thing I really disagreed with. Pissing off some taxi drivers rarely helps anything.