Yesterday, gays and lesbians and their supporters marched in protest of the passing of Prop. 8 in front of the Mormon Temple in Los Angeles.
The march was set to start at 2pm, with many internet users passing and forwarding word of the march via their blogs, email, and social networks. As a result the march which was set to last from 2-3pm went well into the night and through the streets of Los Angeles. My wife and I didn't get there right at 2pm. We took the 405 fwy and it was already crawling with traffic, so we had to take side streets and find our way to the temple from there. We just followed the helicopters we saw in the sky since there were already a few, and we listened to what was happening on KNX 1070AM radio. When we found a parking we saw others parking too, and we got some help carrying the No on Prop 8 yard signs to pass out. We also brought about 20 poster boards and a marker to make signs with. I was wearing a shirt that said 'Mexicana' across the front to visibly represent as a Hispanic Lesbian.
When we got to the temple it seemed like there wasn't that many people there.
There were media vans and protesters, and then we saw the big crowd of protesters on the corner. It was beautiful! We started passing out signs, and making poster boards with different saying to pass out. I made some that said "Got Rights?", "Separation of Church and State!", and "Obama Hear Our Cries!". One straight couple brought their children in a stroller and put a No on 8 Yard sign on it. It was beautiful. We walked to the corner where everyone else was, and pretty much stood there taking pictures of signs, saying hi to people and talking about Prop. 8. Lori Jean had made an announcement before we got there, said The Center has launched a new website, InvalidateProp8.org, where you can support efforts to invalidate the measure—and send a message to the Mormon church, which played a leading role in funding the Yes on 8 campaign of lies and distortions. Donations will support legal efforts to invalidate the measure and for each donation of $5 or more, the Center will send a postcard to Mormon church President Thomas Monson, informing him a donation was made in his name. I was standing in front of the channel 34 cameras with my sign and a channel 5 cameraman said not to do that. He said don't worry they are all on our side, and mentioned that many of the KTLA staff where gay themselves. Diane Olson and Robin Tyler were there also. I had a chance to talk with Diane and Robin, and mentioned to them that we got married and said THANK YOU to them for all they've done. I mentioned our site and told them to contact us if they ever needed any help from us. They were so nice and gracious to take a picture with us. My wife cried after we walked away from them, it was a moment we will never forget.
After that we stood on the corner as one large crowd of marchers was sent forward down Santa Monica Blvd.
Word was that they were sending marchers out in waves, one large crowd at a time. We watched the first crowd march by, and I was so emotional to see all the support, all the signs, all the people who love each other fighting for their rights to be treated equal. There were people with drums, sticks, mega-phones, and people just yelling to keep the marchers chanting and making statements. One would yell "What do we want?" The crowd would yell "Equality!" "When do we want it?" "Now!". My favorite chant was "Gay, Straight, Black, White - Marriage is a Civil Right!". After the first crowd marched by, we could see another large crowd had already gathered. It only took about 20 minutes before the second large crowd began to march. We took more pics and then fell in line with this crowd of marchers.
It was great to be amidst so many other people who were on your side of the issue.
Having to watch the lies and scare tactics by the Yes on 8 campaign, and even learn about them blackmailing No on Prop 8 supporters through the mail, it was great to see the thousands of people who showed up to say that they weren't going to stand for discrimination being written into the California Constitution. We went up Santa Monica Blvd. towards Westwood. There were 3 people standing on a balcony with a Yes on Prop. 8 bumper sticker on the ledge. Half of the crowd stopped in front of their building and yelled at them "Shame on You!" "Shame on You!", calling them bigots, and chanting "Equality for All!" over and over. The people on the balcony looked horrified and disgusted. The crowd was getting angry, and others including myself called for everyone to "Keep Moving!" "Everyone Has to Hear Us!" "Keep Marching!" "Stay Peaceful, No Violence!". The crowd moved on, and made a right on Westwood Blvd.
The LAPD directed the crowd as we turned the corner.
As soon as the marchers rounded the corner we encountered traffic that was stopped on the left side of the street as we marched on the right. Some people were honking, and giving us high-fives as we passed them. Others were flipping us off, including people on the bus, while people in the front of the bus were giving peace signs. I wish I could have got a picture of that! Wasn't quick enough. Trouble started when a truck with a large Yes on Prop 8 was spotted in the traffic, and protesters ripped the sign off. There are really good pictures of this here , here, and here. The crowd was getting angry, but once again marchers called for peace and we kept marching since the police were handling the situation.
As we continued to march, people were coming out from the businesses that lined the streets.
People were taking pictures, recording from their cell phone, even from their car. People were coming out on to their balconies, people were clapping for us, and some were waving their No on Prop 8 signs back to us! It was such an emotional march, especially with such a large police presence. They were very friendly, I would say only one or two were mean to us. For the most part they kept straight faces, but some would smile at us and nod in agreement. Some tried to hide from the cameras, others looked amazed as the protesters chanted and yelled in their faces. They kept us one side of the street, and didn't have problems keeping us on line. There would be some who would run to the sidewalk through traffic and they would tell them not to do it again or they would be arrested.
We were stopped from marching when we reached Ohio Street.
The LAPD blocked the street with a line of cars and made a statement over their loudspeaker that we have to understand that we are causing an inconvenience to many people, at which the crowd booed and hissed. We chanted "Let Us March!" "Let Us March!" and when they didn't let us through, many began to sit down in the intersection and back down Westwood Blvd. KNX 1070 radio had a woman right at the front lines between us and the police, which was only a few inches. There were other media cameraman within us, around us, across the street. At one point the crowd chanted "Take The SideWalk!" and police used their motorcycles to barricade. After a few more minutes, we saw the first group of Marchers, which were stopped at Westwood and Wilshire. The crowd cheered and we cried for Equality and to Let Us March! It took a little while, but they eventually announced they would let us march to which the crowd chanted "Thank You!" "Thank You!" "Thank You!"
We continued marching and went up to Westwood and Wilshire where both marching groups came together.
It was so awesome!! We filled in the intersection and sat down. People were in their cars, out of businesses and lining the sidewalks. We sat with our signs and chanting, pounding drums, sticks, hugging, crying, and spreading the message of Equality for All. After a few minutes we continued the march and headed down Wilshire towards Beverly Hills. Wilshire was hard, it was an up and downhill walk, and we suddenly found ourselves as the last ones in the march of thousands. The police were riding their bikes behind us, there were police motorcycles lining the middle of the street, and it was starting to get dark. We didn't want to be the last ones and tried to hurry up. We passed some people walking their bikes, and a family with two kids being carried on the grown ups shoulders. We took their picture and they were interviewed by local media. We tried to catch up to the bulk of the crowd, and as we passed people up we saw Darryl Stephens and I said to him "Thank You for being out here with us." He said this is his march too, and he had to be out here. I said there are lots of people who should be out here and aren't so THANK YOU. He graciously took a photo with me and we continued on.
The march stopped at the intersection of Wilshire and Beverly Glen.
Many people wanted to sit in the intersection, but others made a right down Beverly Glen back to the church. There was chaos for a minute, and the people in traffic were honking, yelling, or just sitting there quiet. We were getting tired and our feet were hurting, but most of us laughed it off and kept marching. Some marchers ran to the gas station for water, or to McDonald's then got back to the march before the police caught up. They were following the march with bikes, a fire truck, the LAPD media relations truck, and a few other vehicles as well. The lined up in front of each intersection that we passed and as we passed them we chanted "Thank You! Thank You!". We continued our chants for equality and continued our march.
I met up with J.D. from The Smoking Cocktail and we chatted for a bit about what we can do for the cause, and I told her to contact me if she needed anything.
When we got to Santa Monica Blvd. we made a right and marched back down to the Mormon Temple. There were some people out in front of the temple at the top of the hill and the crowd chanted "Shame on You! Shame on You!" and "Tax Them! Tax Them!". Police lined up on the lawn of the church and we all cheered. Angry protesters were banging their signs on the fence of the church, one woman climbed the fence and spoke with a loudspeaker about the Mormon Church and how they funded discrimination. She called for the government to evaluate their tax exempt status to which the crowd chanted "Tax That Cult! Tax That Cult!" Others were talking to the media, others used chalk to write messages in the street about the church such as "Shame on Your H8!" One couple had a mock-wedding in front of the temple, to signify that they can't stop love. I stood in front of the temple with my sign which said "Obama Hear Our Cries", and many people took pictures of the sign. A lot of people told me the whole time that they felt the same way, and that they hoped that Obama would do something about it. I met alot of people on this march, and felt proud that we were a part of history, and had made some sort of action against this tyranny. The crowd began to disperse a little after a while, but one large crowd began to march back down Santa Monica Blvd. towards Beverly Glen. A worker for the church then came outside and began to tear down the signs the protesters had put up in front of the church. I screamed at him "Dont Tear Those Down, Tell Your Boss to Come and Do It!" I put the sign back up and he went down the fence continuing to tear the signs down. I yelled out "Put The Signs Back Up Don't Let Him Tear Them Down!" and screamed "Tell Your Church Boss to Come and Take Them Down!" Our people put the signs back up and he left. We stood outside a while longer and then we headed to our car. We called the sitter to let her know we were on our way, and we could hear the crowd chanting still as we made our way to our car a few blocks away. We drove back down to the front of the church, so we could honk and wave and show some more support. We immediately pulled over and parked because we could hear "Yes on 8! No on 8! Yes on 8! No on 8" and police were crossing the street to the temple. We could tell there had been a fight, and it turned out that the church worker called some Tongan church members to come down and bully the protests. They were caught on film and shown on all the major news stations being aggressive and assaulting a protestor. "
Video from the time between when I left and p.Johanna got there, including the Yes on 8 group of Tongan Mormons:
I showed up at the march last night around 6:45 pm. I had the privilege of meeting Julie Phineas and her wife Gina, they had been there since 2p.m. Right away as I approached the Mormon Temple, I saw the cops walking in their riot gear. Apparently, I had just missed a fight of Yes on 8 people. I started noticing straight couples getting out of their vehicles in their work clothes with homemade signs, they were marching with us. We stood at the temple for about an hour and then, we started walking. The motorcycle cops where riding next to us. Cars were driving and honking and yelling "GOOD FOR YOU!" apparently the traffic jam didn't bother them.
We walked approximately 5 miles one way.
Along the way people would join us, people waiting for the bus would cheer us and put their fist up in the air, in Beverly Hills we went through restaurant row and people would come out and cheer us on, some even joining us and walking with us. The cops at that point looked more tired than us. They would make sure that they were keeping us safe. I saw a girl walking with us that had a severe limp, and every once in a while our group leader would stop and have the rest join us, he yelled, "WE MARCH TOGETHER, WE ARE ONE FAMILY!" There were three cheers we would chant: 1. "WHAT DO YOU WANT? EQUALITY! WHEN DO YOU WANT IT: NOW!" 2. "CIVIL RIGHTS! CIVIL RIGHTS!" 3. "GAY, STRAIGHT, BLACK, WHITE MARRIAGE IS A CIVIL RIGHT! GAY, STRAIGHT, BLACK, WHITE MARRIAGE IS A CIVIL RIGHT!"
There was a point in the street where it became a one way street and there was a row of buildings in between the street we were on and the street that traffic was heading the opposite way.
It was amazing to see that the crowd that started marching before us, was heading back at the same point we were walking, so we basically shut down traffic on both sides. We started cheering and chanting at the same time, so all you heard was one voice in unison, "EQUALITY!". We got back to the temple and people were still there. The news cast was with us and I noticed that one news caster for ABC was looking, not only a bit haggard, but he was actually smiling and watching us in amazement. See, we were not fighting or being violent. At that point, Mormon missionaries were riding their bike by us, as they got past us, they gave us the number one finger, you know which one. The cars that drove by us would encourage us by honking, when they honked it only woke us up to start our chant again. As I stood there, a guy turned to his girlfriend and said, "honey, don't you feel like you are part of the gay community?" What does that mean?
It means that they are realizing what we are. We are just like them. We have one small difference, but in essence we are humans demanding the same right that they take for granted. Why are we doing this? Because we want you to see whose right you have just taken from. Someone told me as I was marching (via twitter) "do you know what impression you are giving? Two years from now there will be footage." My response: IT'S ABOUT TIME OUR FOOTAGE IS ABOUT US DEMANDING OUR RIGHTS, INSTEAD OF DANCING IN THE STREETS DURING GAY PRIDE! STAND UP! WAKE UP! MOVE!"
This is the route that we took:
You can find pictures and videos from the March on The Mormon Church on Nov. 6th here:
Our MySpace Photos
Our Favorite YouTube Videos
Yahoo Photos Dave Marez on Flickr
Evan Jacobs on Flickr Raphael Mazor on Flickr
And here is some news coverage video:
MORE PROTESTS ARE SCHEDULED AROUND THE NATION!!!!
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About the Author: Julie Phineas is a work at home mom of 2 who lives in Southern California. You can find out more about her by visiting her website at www.juliephineas.com.