After Monique Wolfe ’12 learned that New Haven’s rally against Proposition 8 was occurring simultaneously in 10 different countries, she came to a simple realization.
“California’s pissed off the whole world!” she said.
Nearly 250 people rallied outside City Hall on Saturday afternoon to protest the passing of Proposition 8, a California state ballot proposal that eliminates same-sex couples’ right to marry. The New Haven rally, organized by two Yale Law School students, was part of a larger, nationwide protest organized by grass-roots organization JoinTheImpact.com.
“We hope to make sure that people understand that it’s not just a California issue,” said Gabriela Rivera LAW ’11, who organized the New Haven rally with Carel Ale LAW ’11. “Just because Connecticut legalized it, the fight doesn’t stop here.”
The rally in New Haven on Saturday comes amid landmark victories and defeats for the national gay rights movement. Just one week after California overturned the Supreme Court’s May decision to allow same-sex marriage, Connecticut both legalized and held its first gay marriages.
The passage of Proposition 8 calls into question the validity of the estimated 18,000 same-sex marriages that have been conducted in California since May. Members of the LGBT community did not expect the proposition to pass in the state, which is usually known for being liberal, and so were shocked by the results of the ballot.
“The limiting of these rights can’t be tolerated anymore,” said Rivera.
Saturday’s crowd heard speeches from ANSWER Coalition volunteer Chris Garaffa, protesters and United Church on the Green’s Reverend John Gage . Gage urged protesters to avoid demonizing the religious right — which many gay-rights activists have blamed for pushing Proposition 8 over the top — in order to make the movement for gay marriage rights more inclusive.
After the speakers, protesters marched around the New Haven Green, chanting slogans such as, “Gay, straight, black, white — marriage is a civil right!” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, bigotry has got to go!”
Larson Hogstrom, the diversity chair of Spectrum, Connecticut College’s gender and sexuality student alliance, attended Saturday’s protest to show his opposition to the passage of Proposition 8, which he called “a symbol of a problem in our country.”
“This shows the volatility of how people feel about diversity,” he said.
Hartford resident Kyle Lana said he, as a gay man, took the passage of Proposition 8 personally.
“I feel like a second-class citizen,” said Lana, wearing a T-shirt bearing the JoinTheImpact.com logo. “I pay my taxes. I’m a productive member of society. I should have the right to marry.”
Professor Maria Trumpler, director of undergraduate studies for Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, said in an e-mail that she thinks places like Yale can lull lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students into “an idea of social acceptance” that events like the passage of Proposition 8 shatter. She added that the critical question will be whether activist momentum can result in gay marriage rights at the state or national level.
Ben Gonzalez ’09, head of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Cooperative at Yale, said that Proposition 8 has most directly affected the Californian students. He said that some students are tired of hearing about Prop 8 due to the negative reactions of other students who say that California “sucks,” while others are angry and participating in protests.
“It has affected us all, whether we suffer personally by its passing or not,” he said.
JoinTheImpact.com will hold a national demonstration every month for the next 10 months as a part of their “10 months, 10 lives changed” initiative.