by Rex Wockner
An estimated 7,500 to 15,000 people marched through Manhattan Nov. 12 protesting California’s Proposition 8, the voter-passed initiative that amended the state constitution Nov. 4 to end same-sex marriage, which had been legalized by the state Supreme Court in a ruling that took effect June 16.
As much as half of the money that funded the ubiquitous TV ads that convinced Californians to vote for Prop. 8 was donated by Mormon families at the church’s urging, Prop 8’s backers have said.
The march began at the Mormon temple on Columbus Avenue at 65th Street, went down Broadway, turned east on 61st Street, then south on Central Park West to Columbus Circle.
Estimates of the turnout for the march varied. Journalist and radio personality Michelangelo Signorile reported 15,000; lead organizer Corey Johnson estimated 12,000; blogger and participant Joe Jervis (Joe.My.God.) said 10,000 to 15,000; former New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Norman Siegel said he was comfortable with a figure of 7,500; and longtime gay activist Bill Dobbs, who opposes same-sex marriage, favoring civil unions instead, said 5,000 to 7,000.
“Tonight was an amazing success and I was proud of New York City standing in solidarity with California and getting people out in the streets doing something meaningful,” said Johnson, who is director of government affairs at a Wall Street real-estate development firm and political director of the popular gay blog Towleroad.
California’s Supreme Court has been asked to delete Prop. 8 from the constitution, and a ruling is expected relatively quickly. The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and other parties say Prop. 8 illegally “revised” the state constitution rather than merely amending it.
A constitutional revision requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to begin the process, while an amendment can be placed on the ballot simply by collecting enough voter signatures on petitions, as was the case with Prop 8.
“Proposition 8 is invalid because the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the constitution’s core commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group – lesbian and gay Californians,” the legal groups said.
“Proposition 8 also improperly attempts to prevent the courts from exercising their essential constitutional role of protecting the equal protection rights of minorities,” the groups said.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Nov. 10 expressed support for overturning Prop 8.
“This will go back to the Supreme Court because the Supreme Court very clearly in California has declared this unconstitutional,” Schwarzenegger told CNN. “It’s the same as in the 1948 case when blacks and whites were not allowed to marry. This falls into the same category. So, I think that we will again, you know, maybe undo that, if the court is willing to do that, and then move forward from there and again lead in that area.”
Schwarzenegger also urged gay Californians to “never ever give up” on marriage equality.
“They should be on it and on it until they get it done,” he said.