I was headed down to City Hall to meet someone on an unrelated matter today, when he told me that a bunch of Christian anti-gay marriage protesters were just arriving. So I grabbed one of the signs we made to carry while handing out roses to the newlyweds on behalf of the Libertarian Party last week, and rushed down.
Sure enough, about 30 or so people from the Fresno area were out front of City Hall with signs and a big banner reading "Homosexuality is a Sin," etc. One guy was carrying a big sign with a single word on it: "GROSS," which seemed oddly appropriate. Anyway, I got right in there with my sign, which said "Fight puritanism! Defend human rights!" on one side, and "Keep the State Out of Our Bedrooms" with the Statue of Liberty on the other. Speaking of which, my friend Denise happened to be there in a great Lady Liberty outfit handing out tax preparation discount coupons to gay couples on behalf of Liberty Tax Service. That probably didn't make the protesters too happy either.
A bunch of them surrounded me, and we got into some intense debating before things mellowed out. At one point there were like three guys standing in front of me with their Bibles open, trying to read from different passages! Eventually a police officer took me by the arm and led me away from the group. Afterward I was able to have calm, polite discussions with several of them individually or in smaller groups. They didn't stick around very long; within a couple hours, the whole lot seemed to have cleared out, and even while they were there, newlywed couples coming out of City Hall were getting cheers and applause from other bystanders in the area. A number of these people expressed their appreciation to me and to Denise for being there, or came up to talk to us.
But the initial confrontational nature of the exchange provided some terrific photo ops, and there were a number of people taking pictures. I was interviewed and filmed by a couple students from the Broadcasting department at SF State, and talked to a reporter from the Examiner (Joe Manio). I also gave my name and information to a photographer from the Chronicle, but on the condition that he include the information that I was with the Libertarian Party -- last week my roommate Raphael and I got quoted in the paper, but they neglected to mention the LP despite the fact that we told the reporter that we were there on behalf of the party for the rose action previously noted, gave him a card, he saw the signs, etc., and simply reported us as bystanders rather than protesters.
Anyway, the most promising development of the day came when someone told me near the end that CBS 60 Minutes II had been there, and that one of the guys with the crew had said it was some of the better footage they'd gotten and they'd be sending it in. Allegedly there is some chance of it being on the air tomorrow evening -- I haven't checked the broadcast schedule, and don't know if this information is reliable, but you might keep an eye out for it.
Yours in liberty,
<<< Starchild >>>