Banners that read “STR8 Against H8” and “Out of the Closets, Into the Streets” stood out in a sea of rainbow-colored clothing as students and alumni joined thousands of other gay rights protesters on the National Mall Saturday.
Less than two weeks after California voters passed Proposition 8, a measure banning same-sex marriage in the state, a crowd of more than 5,000 rallied on the Mall. Similar-sized protests were held in several other U.S. cities, from San Francisco to Boston, making this weekend’s protest one of the largest gay rights demonstrations in history, according to several media outlets.
Students, alumni and members of GW’s Allied in Pride expressed their outrage at the approval of Proposition 8 by joining the rally that began at the Capitol, passed by the Washington Monument and ended at Lafayette Park.
“I’m gay,” said senior Dan Kampf. “I believe in gay rights. No matter what you are, who you are, why wouldn’t you be out here supporting equal rights?”
Kampf, dressed in a shirt reading “The Bible: Slavery Good. Gays Bad. Snakes Talk,” said he was outraged by the passing of Proposition 8.
“It is all about institutionalizing oppression of the minority,” he said. “It is enfranchising the rights of religious bigotry over the rights of a vulnerable minority.”
Protestors held an array of signs, from “No more Mr. Nice Gay” to “Remember the Lovings” and “Democracy Not Theocracy.”
Victoria Emanuelson, who graduated from GW last spring, said the ballot measure infringes on civil rights.
“You don’t have to be a gay person to support rights,” Emanuelson said. “I’m here for my friends and for all those who have been affected by Proposition 8.”
For senior Amy Dorfman, the proposal hit close to home. Dorfman, who has two mothers, said banning same-sex marriage hurts entire communities.
“We are here to show that hate is not a family value,” she said. “Especially with our new administration, we need to work on equality for all.”
GW graduate student Kellan Baker, who organized Saturday’s protest, said he followed Proposition 8 very closely since he used to work in California.
“I woke up the next morning after the election and my day was ruined,” Baker said
Last Sunday night, he signed up on Jointheimpact.com to be the coordinator of the protest. He said he was proud of the efforts of the protesters in D.C.
“There was a line of people strung out for a mile,” Baker said. “We even stopped traffic on the streets.”
During the rally, Travis Ballie, a student at American, used his megaphone to call out, “Civil rights activists are super sexy.”
When it started raining on Saturday, Ballie encouraged all those in the rain to keep protesting.
“All you protesters look sexier when wet and in the rain,” he called out.
News of Saturday’s protest spread fast, with many students learning of the event from the Internet.
Freshmen Laura Roccograndi and Aly Seeberger said they heard about the event through Facebook. Sarah Orton, a freshman, said she read about the protest on the Web site of celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton.
Orton said she hopes more states will follow her home state of Massachusetts in legalizing same-sex marriage.
“We’ve been through this before in Massachusetts,” Orton said. “Gay marriage hasn’t affected me in any way, so I still don’t understand. Everyone deserves love.”