Proposition 8 Protest in Asheville
Asheville, NC - This afternoon in Asheville, as in numerous other cities in North and South Carolina and across the country, demonstrators gathered to protest against the passage of Proposition 8 in California.
Proposition 8 was a ballot initiative in California to amend the state’s constitution to repeal the right of same-sex couples to marry. It was passed on November 4 with 52% of the vote. Now some 18,000 gay and lesbian couples that were legally married there since mid-June of this year are in a legal limbo.
Anger and frustration over the passage of the divisive measure have prompted protest rallies to occur throughout California since Election Day. Today’s protests in support of same-sex marriage rights were coordinated to take place at the same time of day, 1:30pm Eastern Time, in every state.
Asheville’s protest in Pritchard Park in the middle of the downtown district was organized by the University of North Carolina at Asheville’s (UNC-A) chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). SDS’s chapter secretary, Sarah Buchner was pleased with the turnout of approximately 300 gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer people and their straight allies.
Buchner was one of several impromptu speakers, all of whom spoke about the importance of equality for all, respect for loving relationships, personal freedoms, and separation of church and state. All the while, two men in religious sandwich boards with bibles in hand circled the perimeter of the crowd.
Reverend Joe Hoffman of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Asheville spoke as well.
Hoffman is one of the founding members of People of Faith for Just Relationships and is one of the area’s clergy who has ceased to perform weddings until every couple can be married. He spoke about the need for justice for all couples.
Another speaker at the event was a woman who has been with her partner for 27 years. She said, “She is my partner because in North Carolina, she can’t be my wife.” She made the point that the lack of legal equity has not prevented them from being together.
I spoke to a couple in the crowd who were married in San Francisco on October 15. They are now one of the 18,000 couples whose legal status is unclear. They were there to demonstrate for their marriage as well as the marriages of all the other couples married in California over the four and half month period when gay and lesbian couples had the right to do just that.
A Black man in his late 50s who was observing the protest asked what it was for. OIA’s Associate Publisher, Porscha Yount, explained to him that it was in response to same-sex couples in California losing their right to marry in a vote by the state’s citizens.
“That’s like what they did to the Blacks in the 50s and 60s. It’s just the same in my opinion and just as wrong,” he said as he shook his head in disbelief.
Many parents - gay parents and straight parents - were in the crowd, as well. One mom had her three young daughters dressed in tee shirts that read “My mommies rule.” Other parents were there with babies strapped on their backs or lounging in strollers to protest the removal of rights from lesbian and gay couples in California. There were also several signs in support of gay and lesbian children and their rights.