Actions to coincide with
Supreme Court hearings
by James Patterson
Fliers abound in the Castro announcing a historic event planned for next week. On Monday, March 25, marriage equality supporters will rally at Castro and Market streets at 6:30 p.m. before marching to San Francisco City Hall.
The march comes on the eve of the U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments in two pivotal same-sex marriage cases: Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, scheduled for March 26-27. The court will then decide if the laws violate the Constitution, with decisions expected in June.
Planners chose March 25 for the rally as it marks "the 48th anniversary of the day the historic Selma to Montgomery civil rights marchers arrived at the Alabama state capitol," according to United for Marriage's Facebook posting.
Speakers are planned at the Castro gathering and at City Hall.
"We are expecting a very large crowd," planner Billy Bradford said in an e-mail, "but we have deliberately not spent much time inviting VIPs because we want more marching and less talking."
Still, having politicians at rallies is as old and as American as apple pie. Gay Supervisors Scott Wiener and David Campos "will be there," said Bradford. Focus, he said, will be on "gay couples who are denied equality and multi-national couples denied immigration equality."
Julie Harris, director of marketing and communications at Grace Cathedral, said, at press time, plans were not finalized but that the Episcopal church would send a "large delegation" to the rally and they will be wearing T-shirts that say "Faith demands Justice."
"Our delegation includes LGBT parishioners and straight allies," she said.
Harris, who identifies as lesbian, also said Grace marchers will be inspired by a quote from the Very Reverend Dr. Jane Shaw, the openly lesbian dean of Grace Cathedral: "As all are loved by God equally, we look forward to the day when Grace can conduct legal marriages for all."
Should the Supreme Court uphold lower court decisions that found Prop 8 unconstitutional, Grace Cathedral will begin conducting same-sex marriages, Harris said. At press time, she could not confirm Shaw's participation in the march or rally.
Wednesday morning, the church announced that Bishop Marc Andrus of the Episcopal Diocese of California would participate in the rally. Harris also said that the Reverend Jude Harmon is scheduled to be at the rally.
The Reverend Victor Floyd of Metropolitan Community Church-San Francisco said that congregants would be marching with an MCC banner.
Marriage Equality USA and GetEqual plan vigils March 26 and 27 to show support for marriage equality on the days of the Supreme Court arguments. Activists will gather at the California Supreme Court Building (Earl Warren Building) at 350 McAllister Street in San Francisco from 4 to 8 p.m. both days. LGBT civil rights activists and allies are scheduled to participate, according to Bradford.
"These vigils will demonstrate that support for marriage equality runs deep in our community – regardless of one's age, race, religious beliefs, or political affiliation," Bradford said.
The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral argument on these days for Prop 8 and DOMA, respectively. At press time, Brian Silva, executive director of MEUSA, said 150 events are planned in all 50 states, including Jackson, Mississippi, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Closer by, the Berkeley City Council approved a recommendation by gay Councilman Kriss Worthington that the city fly the rainbow flag March 26-27 in solidarity with the LGBT community across the country.
"The Berkeley City Council was the first city council in the United States to endorse marriage equality in 1997," he said.
On Wednesday, the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club announced that the cities of Oakland and San Leandro will also fly the rainbow flag.
"Flying the rainbow flag – a symbol of pride and affirmation to the LGBT community – will send an important symbolic message that all loving families are welcome here," Brendalynn Goodall, president of East Bay Stonewall, said in a statement.
Interested individuals are encouraged to check MEUSA's website, http://www.marriageequality.org, for late breaking details on local events. As the clock winds down to the Supreme Court hearings, other events may be announced.
Nationally, there will be a noon (Eastern time) rally on March 25. Retired Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, who is gay and married, and his daughter from his first marriage will speak. Planners could not confirm if other marriage equality supporters including former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, or former Congressman Barney Frank would attend. The anti-gay National Organization for Marriage will have a counter-rally.
For more on what to look for at the Supreme Court, see story online.