Just a few minutes ago, a friend of mine wrote an email to me. He was deciding whether or not he should go to the protests scheduled for tonight in West Hollywood and tomorrow at the Beverly Hilton, where President Barack Obama will be attending a fundraiser. I suspect he's not the only person thinking these things:
"I'm trying to figure out if I should go (to the protests). We knew this was going to
happen; we've known basically since November. The rhetoric coming down
seems to be that the supreme court upheld Prop. 8 despite the fact that California is
one of the most socially liberal states in the country.
"But the court's job
obviously isn't to be liberal or conservative -- it's to read the law
and interpret how it applies to a specific case. I'm not angry at the court, I'm not even angry at the Yes on 8 voters anymore. The only emotion I
feel is sadness that it's six months later and the best action we can
think of is still a parade.
"That said I don't want throw up my hands saying, 'Nothing can be done,' and then do nothing about it. Thoughts?"
Well, I have plenty of thoughts. As I wrote to my friend, at times like this, it's absolutely imperative that gays and lesbians let the public know that they're angry. All of the upcoming protests aren't so much about the supreme court ruling, but the fact that an existing right to legally marry has been officially, without question, taken away from them.
Otherwise, if no one shows up at the protests, the general public will think the gay community doesn't care about gay marriage or gay rights in general. It's not the kind of signal you want to send out as gay leaders start the process of putting a pro-gay marriage initiative on the ballot.
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The marches -- and they're not "parades" -- are the first step in what will be a lengthy battle to bring legalized gay marriage to California. These kinds of movements always have first steps, and marching is one of them.
Wednesday's protest at the Beverly Hilton is particularly important. It's an opportunity to confront President Barack Obama directly and let him know that inspiring speeches don't cut it anymore. He needs to decide which side he's on, and then come through with real action. The gay community has an opportunity to put him very publicly on the spot, and it's an opportunity that shouldn't be missed, in my opinion.
Protests and marches are all an important part of applying political pressure, making yourself heard, reaching out and putting people on notice. If the gay community is complacent, the general public won't care about gay rights either, and, ultimately, you let anti-gay forces win.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.