Message at Rallies: Celebrate Today, Fight Tomorrow
WEST HOLLYWOOD — Nearly 4,000 people rallied in West Hollywood Wednesday, and Similar crowds gathered in the Castro in San Francisco, in New York City, and all over the country. This time, they were celebrating.
When Proposition 8 in 2008 passed with 52% of the vote, shocked LGBT Americans were also in the streets, but they were angry. Activists later described the moment as a turning point or as a wake-up call from complacency. And on Wednesday, that determination to win equal rights showed no signs of waning.
The jubilant group of thousands in West Hollywood had brought together friends, family members, and allies to celebrate the landmark Supreme Court rulings that struck down California's Proposition 8 and a key portion of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. The rally carried with it a definitively celebratory and compassionate air.
Plaintiffs in the Prop. 8 case spent Wednesday morning in Washington, D.C., and then flew across the country to make the rally. While being interviewed via satellite with the crowd as the backdrop, they had to wear headsets, as if calling a sporting event, so they could be heard by the likes of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and her viewers.
The sizable crowd was attentive and gracious — frequently breaking into chants of "Thank you!" when lead Perry attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies took the stage, when Prop. 8 plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier and Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami addressed the crowd, and when Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villagairosa spoke of his long dedication to LGBT equality.
Whenever a speaker mentioned the demise of Prop. 8, the crowd cheered long and loud, as it did when anyone mentioned DOMA. But even with victory in hand, speakers were unanimous in declaring that more work is needed to realize a fully inclusive, equal nation for LGBT Americans.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black emceed the celebration, which featured appearances from the plaintiffs and bipartisan legal team that successfully brought Hollingsworth v. Perry to the nation's highest court, in addition to community, political, and faith leaders from throughout the greater Los Angeles area.
“Today, freedom and equality yet again ring in the great state of California,” said Black in his energetic opening remarks. “And most importantly, what every single one of us Californians won today was strength. We won strength. And we did it with our blood, and our sweat, and our tears, and our stories, and our lives, and our love.”
“But we are not done,” continued Black, setting the tone for the entire rally. “And now, it is time for each and every one of us to take that strength you now feel as Californians and take it to Texas and take it to Virginia ... and take it to Holland, Mich., where so many have been denied equality. And take it, please take it, to Altoona, Pa. — to the place Harvey Milk talked about, to that young person who is still yearning to be free. You need to take your strength to these places, and share this feeling with this nation so we no longer leave a single one of our brothers or our sisters behind, no matter the love in their heart, or which state they live. That is what we will do with this day.”
“We have 37 states that still wake up every morning in a state that discriminates against them,” Zarrillo told The Advocate. “So we need to really focus on that by being out there and telling our stories. And we also need to focus on employment discrimination, and encourage our legislators to get that through Congress.”
"Tomorrow, this fight continues," said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. "The sun will still rise on an unequal America. But I promise you, equality, fairness, and basic human dignity will prevail for everyone, everywhere.”
See more photos from the West Hollywood rally on the following pages.