Thousands of demonstrators marched down Market Street in San Francisco on Friday night to protest the passage earlier this week of Proposition 8, which effectively bans same-sex marriage in California.
The march began around 5:30 p.m., as the group worked its way west toward its final destination of Dolores Park. A large group remained around Ninth and Market streets, holding signs, chanting and jamming traffic. About a dozen Muni buses were stuck in the traffic mess.
The social conservative minority communities, who support Dems but not gay marriage, offer much of the explanation.
"Our rights have been taken away," said Debra Walker, a lesbian who has lived in San Francisco since 1981. She is a member of the city's building inspection commission and is the past president of the Harvey Milk Club.
"I came here because of the welcoming way of San Francisco. It is so troubling that in 2008, this would pass. The fear campaign was unconscionable."
Walker stood holding a banner across Market Street and said she was prepared to be arrested.
"A little traffic stoppage is mild compared to having rights taken away from you," she said.
There were no reports of arrests in connection with the demonstration.
The crowd shouted chants such as "Our rights" and "We will not be quiet."
It's ironic that liberal minorities, who have seen fights over equal rights in the their histories, aren't buying the gay marriage is a human right argument.
One of the organizers of the demonstration, Ryan Kerian, 28, a gay lawyer and San Francisco resident, said the rally was designed to "show that we won't be silent.
"We've had rights stripped away from us," he said. "We aren't going to give up and go away."
The crowd was ethnically mixed, but two African American men infuriated many demonstrators by loudly arguing in favor of Prop. 8. They were berated repeatedly by opponents of the proposition, but spent more than 90 minutes arguing about the Bible.
"It is not discrimination," said Chauncey Killens, who said he represented a small congregation in Prunedale (Monterey County). He carried a sign reading, "Yes on Prop 8. Protect marriage."
The presence of the two men from Prunedale was deeply offensive to many of the demonstration participants, said Jeffrey Lebin, 52, of San Jose. "To have the lack of support from the black community is very painful to us. Fifty years from now, I think the black community will be ashamed that they didn't support us."
Uriah Findley, 27, who is straight and was born and raised in conservative Orange County, said he believes that Prop. 8 will be a fleeting event in California history.
"This is their last hurrah," he said. "Proposition 8 is the last gasp of a dying way of thinking."
He said religion has no place in laws.
"As far as I'm concerned, this isn't something that ever should have been voted on," he said.