Election 08: What Happens To A Dream Deferred? Prop 8 Protest in WeHo
While much of the country and the world woke up on November 5 relieved or even joyful at the previous day’s election results, the day dawned bittersweet for many others here in Los Angeles and across the state. “It’s one of the most exciting days because of, clearly, Barack, and one of the most disappointing days because this thing happened and that’s caused a deep, deep sadness,” says Cara, a 31-year-old who was marching with her partner, 26-year-old Kelly, through the streets of West Hollywood on Wednesday night. “How do you realize that 50 percent of the population voted for this?”
This, of course, was the passage of Proposition 8, the ban on gay marriage in California. Cara and Kelly were among the thousands who took to the streets of West Hollywood to protest the measure’s passage. “I’m angry, confused, but hopeful,” adds Kelly. “Confused and surprised. I really didn’t think it would pass.”
The march began in the early evening on Santa Monica Boulevard and spanned from Highland to San Vicente. Protesters carried banners and chanted “Si se puede! Yes, we can!” “What do we want? Equal rights! When do we want them? Now!”
The throng, which appeared to include a strong contingent of straight folks, reached nearly a mile in length at times, before gathering in a circle at San Vicente and heading back east. Approaching midnight, the crowds were still thick, carrying banners that read, among other things, “No More Mr. Nice Gay,” “Straight, Gay, Humanity Stands Together” and “Go To Hell, Mormons.”
By all appearances calm and friendly (despite a couple of reported arrests at Highland Boulevard), the protest attracted a large police presence, including a helicopter that, to the glee of the protesters, insisted upon throwing a giant spotlight on their cause and at one point seemed to be the inspiration for the iconic chant “Donna Martin Graduates!” And if you don’t get it, you better ask somebody.
Among the marchers is Steve Yeager, a youthful looking 63-year-old who is smartly dressed in a tweedy sports coat and fedora. A Redondo Beach resident, Yeager tells me he happened to be in town at the Apple Store and decided to join in the march. “I think what we should do is take the word married and turn it into gay, so if you’re married, it means your gay,” offers Yeager as we march through a festive West Hollywood, where it seemed many demonstrators were taking time outs to patronize the local bars and restaurants in between bouts of protest. “We’ll have all the kids saying, ‘You’re sooo married.’”
Yeager was particularly dismayed about the Arkansas measure that passed on Tuesday banning unmarried couples from adopting or taking in foster kids, a constitutional conceit to keep gays from adopting. Yeager years ago took in and raised a troubled foster kid who is now 31 and doing very well, he says. “If this was Arkansas, I couldn’t do that now,” he says, worried about whether such a measure could be next here.
As for Cara and Kelly, neither said they were sure where the fight would go next, but both said they planned to continue to it. “We’re going to be active as much as possible,” says Kelly, before joining the circle at San Vicente.