Today I attended two spontaneously-organized protests of Prop 8.
I'm hetero so I'm not directly affected by Prop 8 or other anti-gay measures, but I am an a-theist, and I am more than ready to push back. Hard. I've got no tolerance anymore for holier-than-thou religious freaks and bigoted, hypocritical a-holes invading people's privacy, imposing religious litmus tests and advancing the purported superiority of their authoritarian, superstitious beliefs as a necessary moral guide for the rest of us. It's obvious to anybody paying attention that these jerks will not stop with eliminating gay rights and abortion rights. They want an American theocracy, and they will push their agendas as far as we let them.
When I heard about the protests I thought, "Fuck it. I'm in." Gay people must have the same civil rights as everybody else in America--including marriage rights. Period.
The first demo started at 8 a.m. at the Mormon church in the University District in Seattle. The second was at the Mormon temple in Bellevue. Only about 30 people were at each event, and the low turnout is attributable to last-minute organizing and word-of-mouth publicity. But both events were effective symbolic throw-downs of the progressive/liberal civil-rights gauntlet against religious bigots.
The afternoon demo was held in front of the temple at the intersection of the temple driveway and a heavily-traveled road about 400 feet away from the temple itself. Demonstrators formed into small groups at the intersection corners. There was a fair amount of honked support from passing drivers, but no in-person interaction with Mormons driving out from the temple parking lot.
In contrast, the morning demo formed a line on the sidewalk directly in front of the church at the entrance steps, which is located on a quiet neighborhood sidestreet, so church attendees had to pass quite near the demonstrators to enter the church. So, the morning demo was more effective.
Most Mormons ignored us and refused eye contact, or simply returned our friendly "Hello" and requests for support with a neutral "Hello." Only one Mormon man went a bit "gorilla" on a couple gay guys--moving aggressively into their personal space and challenging them--but this tense encounter was brief.
I was stunned when two extremely brave Mormons (a young man and a thirtyish woman) walked up and took a place in the demo line. They openly stood with us against their church. After about 10 minutes, they left to attend the service. The woman was crying and saying "Thank you, thank you, thank you." We in turn thanked them for their courage, decency, bravery and their support--and we all loudly applauded and cheered them.
I suspect that their church "elders" will go after them soon enough.
My hope is that repeated public protests at Mormon worship sites combined with targeted boycotts of Prop H8te supporters' businesses will give Mormons who disagree with their church the strength to speak out and agitate for change from within.
UPDATE Some Mormons are apparently gleefully spreading lies and rumors about gay riots in LA at the temple protests and that Seattle demonstrators chained themselves to temple gates. My link feature is down, but check out this Mormon newsblog for a small sample:
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Posted by Emerald City Scion at 4:10 PM