Author: Tyler Kearn
More than 10,000 people, Oxy students included, gathered at Los Angeles City Hall on Saturday, to protest the passage of Proposition 8. Prop 8, which passed on election day with a 52.5% majority, changed the California state constitution to make the marriage of homosexual couples illegal. Since Nov. 4, many groups in opposition to the amendment have rallied in protest, labeling it discriminatory.
There have been many smaller rallies and marches by Prop 8 opponents throughout the Los Angeles area starting the night after the election, but Saturday’s protest was the largest and most organized of any so far. It was timed to coincide with protests occurring in all 50 states and in nine other countries.
The LAPD estimated a turnout of 10,000-12,000 people, making the Los Angeles demonstration the largest nationally. It is impossible to know how many Oxy students contributed to the masses – there were far too many people there for them to find each other.
“I was very pleased with the turnout,” Isaac Hale (sophomore) said, who attended the protest on Saturday. “I was incredibly overjoyed to know that there were protests going on in all 50 states.”
The crowd assembled on Spring Street in front of City Hall, waving signs such as “Equality for all” and “No more Mr. Nice Gay.” The assembled group heard a long string of speakers, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Villaragiosa, who took time out from dealing with the fires ravaging Los Angeles County, pledged to fight against the proposition. (Later that day, Governor Schwarzenegger declared an official State of Emergency.)
“We got elected to protect the constitution,” Villaraigosa said. “This constitution cannot be changed at the drop of a hat. You cannot deny a fundamental right just because a majority says so.”
Other speakers included members of the Los Angeles City Council, people who were personally affected by Proposition 8, and a few celebrities, such as Xena: Warrior Princess star Lucy Lawless.
After the speeches, the crowd set off marching, traveling a loop several blocks around city hall and chanting cheers such as “What do we want? Equal rights! When do we want it? Now!”There was a large police presence, but the protest went smoothly. “It was nice that it was so orderly,” Eric Martinez (junior) said. “People were respectful.”
With the fate of Prop 8 to be decided in the ongoing legal battles (there are currently five ongoing court cases that aim to stop the passage of the proposition), it might seem that demonstrations such as this one will have little impact on the eventual outcome of ballot initiative. Those who attended the protest disagree.
“Rallies are important to show Californians and the rest of the nation that when Prop 8 was passed people were unjustly denied a civil right,” Nicole Copti (sophomore) said, who was in attendance at the protest.
“[Demonstrations like this one are] raising awareness of this issue, and maintain the dialogue,” Hale said. “If they [the rallies] keep at this intensity, they will stay in people’s consciousness. If we’re loud enough [. . .] there’s nothing the media likes better than a controversy, so we’re hoping for continued coverage.”
Though the rally was to oppose a ballot initiative that had already passed, students still felt as though there was a lot to take away from it.
“There are a lot of reasons to be hopeful. The crowd at the rally was very optimistic,” Copti said.
“What Saturday showed is how volatile the issue of gay rights is,” Martinez said, “even in an age when we elect a black President.”
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