As President Bush began his second term in Washington, gay rights demonstrators joined others across the country to protest another four years of his administration. They marched through the streets of cities and towns, denouncing Bush's marginalization of gay people and his opposition to same-sex marriage. In Washington, D.C., thousands of protesters, including a number of gays and lesbians, were kept far from Bush, and about a dozen were arrested for trying to penetrate various barricades. Along the parade route from the Capitol to the White House, protesters roared boos and chants as Bush and then Vice President Dick Cheney passed by in their limousines.
At a large protest in Seattle, lesbian activist Meighan Doherty, 25, said she found Bush's inaugural address hypocritical and was not impressed with his focus on freedom, liberty, and equality. "He willingly marginalizes groups such as pro-choice, the gay community, and people of color if they do not agree with his personal values, particularly in the world of religion," said Doherty, outreach director for Action Northwest. The Seattle-based group provides training and grants for organizations interested in women's reproductive rights, labor issues, civil rights, marriage equality, and socio-economic justice.
The Seattle protesters carried signs reading, "I am not a second-class citizen" and "Gay rights are civil rights," as well as posters reading, "Axis of Evil," with a photograph of Bush, Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice, Bush 's nominee for secretary of state. At Seattle Central Community College, students marched through buildings, pounding on doors and encouraging others to leave. About 1,000 demonstrators then marched from the community college to the downtown area, where several people gave speeches.
In Lincoln, Neb., about 150 people, many of them gay and lesbian high school and college students, marched to the capitol for a rally supporting gay rights. Ruth Kepfer, a Lincoln High School teacher and cosponsor of youth group Gay-Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Straight Alliance, said the rally was planned for Inauguration Day for visibility, not to protest the inauguration.
But many in the crowd criticized Bush, who has promised to make a federal anti-gay marriage amendment a priority of his second term. "He doesn't have any room to comment on values," said Jill Francke, a 21-year-old student at Doane College in Crete. "He doesn't carry a banner of value about anything." Several people in the crowd carried signs reading, "We vote for values of equality" and "Hate is not a family value." Tom Kolbe, a 35-year-old middle school teacher from Lincoln, echoed Francke's
sentiments. "These 'value voters' are the people who elected George Bush as our president," he said. "And to me, these are not values of equality. The people that have supported 'defense of marriage' across America also voted for Bush."