When Californians took to the polls on Tuesday, November 4, 52.5% of those people cast a vote against equal rights, saying same-sex marriage has no place in the Golden State. Proposition 8 passed at the polls, and within hours, fingers were pointed -- at the Mormon Church, at conservative minority voters, at what some are now saying was a disorganized campaign.
But in the wake of California's LGBT population lamenting yet another blow to their rights, something magical happened. LGBT Californians stood up, brushed themselves off, and prepared for the fight of a generation.
"This is a second Stonewall," said a veteran of the '60s Stonewall riots in New York who turned out Thursday for a march on Los Angeles's Mormon Temple.
Some 2,000 LGBT people turned out in Thursday's sweltering sun to point the finger at the Mormon Church, which funded the bulk of the Yes on 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage in California. That's less than 24 hours after several thousand marched on the Sunset Strip, in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, screaming out the demand for "equal rights. Now!"
Similar efforts took place across the state -- in Sacramento, San Diego, and San Francisco. But none attracted quite the media attention of L.A.-based efforts, which have been followed by CNN, ABC News, and virtually every local news crew within a hundred-mile radius.
The following is a chronicle of the 48 hours' worth of chants, rallies, and cries for equal rights following Election Day. We encourage you to share your own thoughts and memories in the comments below.
Wednesday, November 5 (Rally in West Hollywood, March on Los Angeles)
"What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? Now!"
Reacting to Wednesday morning's news that California's Prop. 8 had likely passed and eliminated same-sex marriage in the state, a crowd of some 2,000 protesters took to the streets Wednesday evening, marching down West Hollywood's Sunset Strip and backing up traffic for blocks.
What started as a rally of speakers, supporters, and No on 8 volunteers attempting to keep LGBT people charged and ready to keep fighting for equal rights turned into a march around the city. On the Sunset Strip, cars stopped, and patrons of bars and restaurants left what they were doing and came out to the street. Everyone wanted in on the action. It was a night of support.
In Hollywood another group marched to the CNN tower, demanding that their voices be heard. It worked, because moments later, the post-Prop. 8 march was being covered by every news station in town -- CNN even had a live feed.
"It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen," said one man who joined the Sunset Strip march after seeing it from his apartment balcony, fighting back tears. "We may not have won today, but we will soon. I know it."
Thursday, November 6 (Rally, March on the Mormon Temple)
The sun was hot, but the crowd was hotter. Outside the fortress-like Mormon temple on Santa Monica Boulevard, we observed a pattern that kept repeating throughout the next hour: A young man flung himself at the spiked iron fence and rattled the bars, screaming "You motherf**kers!" A woman next to him put a cautioning hand on his shoulder, saying, "We don't want to be violent; they'd just use that against us."
But the anger was palpable. The signs, the shouts, and the numbers -- 2,000 strong, on a weekday afternoon -- made it plain that a new generation of activism was being born. Three helicopters hovered in the sun. News copters? LAPD? We couldn't see. But the police were out in force; between motorcycle cops deployed for blocks around and a whole phalanx of officers on foot, waiting on a side street, we saw more than 100.
High on its hill, the temple looked like a castle to be stormed. We circled the grounds, jumping up on fences, banging signs into the gates. The chants were continuous: "Shame on you!" "Tax the Mormon Church!" And simply: "Liars!"
From the hilltop a half dozen figures watched; a black-uniformed guard patrolled the slope between us, hefting a green-stocked shotgun. "What's that, to shoot eco- people?" somebody said. "Rubber bullets," somebody else answered.
The moment didn't tip into violence. This crowd wasn't ready for that -- yet. But many were feeling, for perhaps the first time, the exhilaration of raising their voices together over something besides a Pride float.
Later, once the speaking stopped and the Mormons had retreated to the temple, the march began -- first circling the temple and then into Westwood, closing down traffic on Wilshire Boulevard in the middle of rush hour, drawing people from their office buildings to take photos and chant.
Intersections were closed down, and the helicopters continued to follow us. The entire city knew what was going on. Gay rights had been stripped away, and for the first time in a long time, the community had been pushed too far.
Saturday will bring yet another rally in Los Angeles -- this time in the diverse Silver Lake neighborhood. The rally is to take place at 6 p.m. at Sunset Junction, where Santa Monica and Sunset boulevards meet.
-- Neal Broverman, Michelle Garcia, and Corey Scholibo contributed to this report.
Friday, November 7
- San Francisco Civic Center, 5:30 pm. From Civic Center (Market/7th) to Dolores Park.
- Mission Viejo: 4 - 7 pm rally, 200 Civic Center.
- Palm Springs: Community rally/candlelight ceremony, 5:00 p.m., Palm Springs City Hall, Corner of Taquitz Canyon Way and El Cielo (by the airport).
- Long Beach: 6:45pm - 9:00pm, Broadway and Redondo.
- Santa Barbara: 5:00pm - 6:00pm Location: De La Guerra Plaza Street: [700-756] De La Guerra Plz.
- San Diego: 9 p.m. Gather at Laurel & Sixth Avenue for a march to San Diego City Hall (located at 202 C St in Downtown).
Saturday, November 8
- San Diego: 12:00 p.m. Gather at 1st Avenue & University Avenue in Hillcrest for a civil rights march to 30th Street & University Avenue in North Park.
- Laguna Beach: 5:30 P.M. at City Hall - march to Main Beach for candlelight vigil. Parking available at Act V parking lot at 1900 Laguna Canyon Road - shuttle busses will be running every 15 minutes.
- Los Angeles: Sunset Junction in Silver Lake, Corner of Sunset Blvd. and Santa Monica Blvd.