Monday, November 17, 2008

After Prop 8, gay-marriage support grows

After passage of Calif.'s Prop 8, gay-marriage support grows
By Janet Kornblum, USA TODAY

SAN FRANCISCO — Thousands of gay-marriage supporters plan to take to the streets Saturday to protest gay-marriage bans in California, Arizona and Florida.

Protesters are focusing on California, where the state Supreme Court declared same-sex marriages legal in May before voters tossed them out Nov. 4.

California's Proposition 8, which passed 52.2% to 47.8%, "eliminates (the) right of same-sex couples to marry."

Proponents of same-sex marriage say its passage has only energized the gay rights movement. Activists are using a grass-roots network of websites, e-mails and text messages to coordinate protests in about 300 cities — from Fayetteville, Ark., to Omaha.

"This narrow loss has awakened Godzilla," says Fred Karger of Los Angeles, who runs the website Californians Against Hate ( "I think this loss in California … is the greatest thing that could have happened" because it spurred activism in the gay-marriage movement.

His site highlights contributors to Proposition 8 and lets users search public records for names.

On Wednesday, artistic director Scott Eckern at California Musical Theatre in Sacramento, the state's largest non-profit musical theater company, resigned amid protests. "I understand that my choice of supporting Proposition 8 has been the cause of many hurt feelings," he said in a statement. "It was not my intent."

Andrew Pugno, a spokesman for the Yes on 8 campaign, says he has received hundreds of e-mails from people complaining about "retaliation for their support of Prop 8," including threats to them and their families.

Three lawsuits challenging Proposition 8 have been filed in the state Supreme Court. The Yes on 8 campaign plans to respond by Monday, arguing the measure was constitutional, Pugno says.

"It is very disturbing that the No on 8 campaign continues to challenge the right of the majority to speak on this issue," he says. "The election is over. The majority spoke."

Stuart Gaffney, a plaintiff in the case that led to the state Supreme Court's May ruling, says the proposition was immoral, and plans to rally in San Francisco on Saturday. "The rights of a minority shouldn't be taken away by a popular vote," he says.

Bryant Tan, 28, a San Francisco philanthropist, attended a few No on 8 fundraisers before the election but wasn't very active. When he learned about the protests through Facebook after the measure passed, he decided to join. "I've seen so many people — gay, straight … people of all kinds of backgrounds — really get activated" by its passage, he says.

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