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    Photo Credit: Nicolas Smith

This Shall Not Stand: Protests Against Prop 8 Gather Strength

By L. K. Regan

In California, and indeed across America, resistance to the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 has been gaining strength. If you want to express your resistance to the California electorate's decision to end that state's five months of same-sex marriages, there may still be time. Here's the run-down on what's gone on, and where to go:

In the week since California voters chose to pass an amendment to the state constitution enforcing a definition of marriage as between "one man and one woman", the streets have been lively with protests expressing resistance to that narrow definition. On November 7th, an estimated 2,000 people crowded and blocked a San Francisco intersection in protest of the ballot measure; on Sunday access to state Highway 13 in Oakland (near the Mormon Temple, in protest of the LDS's support of the measure) was blocked by nearly 500 protesters. On the same day, about 2,500 protesters gathered on the steps of the state Capitol in Sacramento to vent their opposition to the same-sex marriage ban. In Los Angeles, seven people were arrested as several thousand gathered for protests on November 5th. The San Diego Union-Tribune estimated that 10,000 gathered for protests in that city last weekend. In Salt Lake City, Utah, a peaceful protest of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints took place on Friday night, involving thousands of protesters. These events were independently organized, but speak to a broad sense of rage at the outcome of the election.

Is the fight over? Not according to California's governor—or, as he is fondly known, the governator. Speaking on CNN's "Late Edition" Sunday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger expressed disappointment at Proposition 8's passage. "It is unfortunate," Schwarzenegger said. "But it is not the end because I think this will go back into the courts.... It's the same as in the 1948 case when blacks and whites were not allowed to marry; this falls into the same category." The opinion of the California state legislature may well follow; 44 members of the legislature filed briefs on behalf of one of the three lawsuits seeking to invalidate Prop 8. Their case argues that the ban should be tossed out because voters did not have the authority to make such a dramatic change in state law. And, state Attorney General Jerry Brown has vowed to defend the state's roughly 16,000 same-sex marriages against any effort to invalidate them.

Over the next several days, protests will grow. On Wednesday, for instance, New Yorkers can join a protest from 6:30 to 8:00 PM at the Manhattan Mormon Temple on Columbus Ave at 65th St. And outside the Big Apple, if you want to get out there and protest, it's not too late. "Join the Impact" has coordinated protests running this Saturday, November 15th, in cities in every state in the U.S. Check out their site for details. In California, there will be protests in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Oakland, San Diego—in every major city. Many of these events need organizers and volunteers, for anyone who wants to get active.

And, there's another way of protesting available, for those who don't mind fines and the possibility of imprisonment. You can join Melissa Etheridge and others who don't plan to pay taxes. "[Wife Tammy Lynn Michaels] and I are not allowed the same right under the state constitution as any other citizen," Etheridge has said. "OK, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen. I mean that would just be wrong, to make someone pay taxes and not give them the same rights, sounds sort of like that taxation without representation thing from the history books." There are repercussions to not paying taxes—serious ones, in the form of fines and interest charges—but for those who can afford it, and who have a very good lawyer, it may be worth the price.