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NYC Protest and Civil Rights March Opposing Proposition 8


So, last night's protest, which began at the Mormon Temple and left discrimination behind as it marched down Broadway to Columbus Circle, was a huge success. Thanks to everyone for showing up. Crowd estimates varied from 7-10,000. There was an unfortunate report that went out on the AP wire service early on that reported a few hundred people. Those of you who were there know how wildly inaccurate that is.


Towleroad political director Corey Johnson (above), who, with Michelangelo Signorile and Ann Northrop, initiated the entire event with assistance from several ACT UP vets including John Voelcker, later spent some time with the AP on the phone, and due to his persistence they later revised their estimate up to 10,000 based on what other outlets had been reporting.

Here's Signorile's report.

Here's a video of Corey directing the crowd as we began marching down Broadway.

I served as a marshal and was at the Temple starting at 5:30 pm. I met a lot of Towleroad readers, which was really cool. Hello to all of you.

Ann Northrop used a megaphone to instruct marshals on the plan. By 6 pm crowds had begun to gather in the small park opposite the temple and by 6:15 hundreds had showed up and a large circular picket line began circling the small square. Within minutes police were forced to create another picket area across the street directly in front of the Temple itself.

Chants of "Tax this Church" and Gay Straight Black White Marriage is a Civil Right" were heard as rush hour traffic pushed by on Columbus avenue. There was at least one audible "crunch" as a driver watching the protestors slammed into the back a taxi. Whoopi Goldberg appeared with a sign reading "For my Friends, Equal Rights" as the crowds also began showing up in droves.

Whoopi image from a great set of photos by Bitten by a Zebra.

At this point the police were freaking out a bit as to the crowd size and expanded the protest area into Columbus Avenue. Protestors were behaving very well and the energy was high.

At a certain point the police gave us the okay to begin the march, so we corraled demonstrators behind a 75-foot banner sewn this week by rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker, who was there (Baker also designed the stretch-sequin turquoise armbands that the marshals wore).

Here's a great photo of the banner shot by Andres Duques, from a report on the event by gay journo Rex Wockner:


At that point I was placed just ahead of the front line of demonstrators holding the banner as we began a march down Broadway, which was closed to traffic. The enthusiasm was palpable. No incidents that I saw except for one guy near the beginning of the march down Broadway. He was actually dressed in a crisp shirt and tie (like a Mormon) and he walked across a group of protestors and gave them each a hard push before disappearing into the night.

There was also an "ex-Mormon" riding a Segway in front of the protest as it made its way down the street and he was really there for his own self-promotion and actually kept getting in the way.

Foreman_2The crowd moved down Broadway. As I was at the front of the line I couldn't see how far back the crowd stretched but it was blocks and blocks I was told, and the video below by Father Tony gives something of an idea. This is one of my favorite videos of the event, because it's just raw and it winds through the crowd which just goes on an on and on. I have a brief cameo at 5:40. Father Tony also has photos on his blog Farmboyz, plus a Flickr set. It includes this shot of former NGLTF head Matt Foreman.

Eric Leven of Knucklecrack has also uploaded a great video wrap-up of the event.

Here are the clips. Father Tony's on the left, Eric Leven's on the right:

We turned left on 61st street because the police thought it would be too dangerous to enter Columbus Circle directly at rush hour so we detoured and made our way down Central Park West so protestors could filter off into the southwest entrance to the Park.

We stayed at the entrance to Columbus Circle where the protest ended. It was meant as a show of force and solidarity, and as a way for folks to come together and express their desire for civil rights, and on that I think it succeeded admirably. Protestors lingered well after police instructed us to start telling people to go home.

Matthew Rettenmund of Boy Culture has a fantastic report with great pictures of Whoopi Goldberg, PJ Deboy, Joe.My.God, Tony Kushner, Kate Clinton, Eric Leven, Judy Gold, and a video:

Kateclinton_2Here's a shot of Kate Clinton from reader Charl Kroeger. More on his Facebook page.

Towleroad's Kevin Sessums, who I didn't get a chance to see, reports that he saw Peter Staley, Tony Kushner and his husband Mark Harris, Doug Wright, Moises Kaufman, Urvashi Vaid and Kate Clinton, Avenue Q scribe Jeff Whitty and Jake Shears as well as the elusive Dan Savage, Larry Kramer, artist Robert Hammond (and initiator of the developing High Line park) as well as composer Marc Shaiman, who led the recent charge to boycott Sacramento's California Musical Theatre, leading to the resignation of its artistic director of 25 years, Scott Eckern following revelations of his contribution to the "Yes on 8" campaign..


Blogger Joe.My.God (pictured above) has a fantastic set of photos which include Michelangelo Signorile, Lavi Soloway, Judy Gold, Eric Leven, Gilbert Baker, Whoopi Goldberg, Corey Johnson, and myself working the crowd (below).


There's also impressive coverage over at Blabbeando with video.

Here's a photo of some interesting signage sent in by photographer Jason Rowan:


Alex K of Eat Read Play has a colorful report.

Alex Geana has posted a widget with dozens of photos.

I'm told New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was there. State senator Bill Perkins also represented (below):


Band of Thebes has photos and reports the sighting of author Michael Cunningham.

Here's Tony Kushner, in a photo published along with many others on the Protest Facebook page:


Jon-Marc McDonald has some excellent photos and video including this shot of myself (at a moment when I actually remembered I had a camera in my pocket and could take some photos) as well as Slog's Dan Savage. He also has a shot of Larry Kramer.

Andytowle Dansavage

Here's the crowd after it had reached Columbus Circle and the police began cordoning it off with plastic fencing. The NYPD were very helpful during the entire protest:

David Shankbone, who shoots for Wikipedia, has a Flickr page with lots of great stuff.


The Advocate has an excellent story by Michael Joseph Gross on the Prop 8 protests springing up around the nation as well as some photos from the New York event.

Here's Gay City News' report on the event: "Gathering at 6:30 p.m. at West 65th and Columbus, the site of the temple, the crowd soon marched down Broadway behind a huge white banner saying 'GOD LOVES GAY MARRIAGE' made by Gilbert Baker, creator of the Rainbow Flag 30 years ago. Corey Johnson, one of the key organizers with Mike Signorile and Ann Northrop, said the turnout 'was a tremendous outpouring of grassroots energy and support.' He hoped that energy can be harnessed to win marriage equality in New York. Signorile said, 'It's about a right that was taken away, not just marriage.' He wants those energized to demand all of our civil rights and that Mormon-owned companies such as Marriott "stop giving money to the Church.'

The protest was covered on local news - ABC, NBC, CBS, and NY1. ABC's coverage (below) was the best imho. Anderson Cooper also mentioned it on AC360, during Dan Savage's appearance, and Campbell Brown and Jeffrey Toobin discussed it earlier in the night I believe.

KramerHere's FOX's local report. They reported 1,000 people, so they must have left early.

Larry Kramer spoke with them however. Said Kramer: "I guess we're tired of being hated, because this is what it's all about. Hate."

Here's a shot from ABC4's coverage in Salt Lake City. They reported 4,000 people:


NydnHere's coverage from the New York Daily News: "Thousands of human rights advocates massed outside the Mormon Temple on the upper West Side Wednesday night to protest the church's vigorous role in banning California's same-sex marriages. After some speechifying, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and entertainer Whoopi Goldberg led demonstrators on a flag-waving, drum-beating, slogan-chanting march to Columbus Circle. The peaceful protest drew young and old, white and nonwhite, straight and gay, most of whom smiled and waved at spectators..."

ANDERSON COOPER AC360 with Dan Savage:

Finally, AFTER THE JUMP...a video report from the New York Daily News.

Here's video from the New York Daily News:

Thanks to everyone for coming. It was a great night out in New York City.

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  1. What a great night! Have not ever seen this many of us join together for a cause. I was proud of NYers. More to come on Saturday!

    Posted by: alex k | Nov 13, 2008 9:43:42 AM

  2. Last night was a truly amazing experience for me. As a 27 year old who only came out 3 years ago I felt this need to be part of something bigger than myself, and last night was the perfect chance to do that.

    All day I tried to round up some of my coworkers to go to the rally with me (I work in retail so 85% of the guys here are gay), and everyone has an excuse. So while I almost bailed, I said screw it and went alone. Little did I know when I got there I would not feel alone at all.

    The first person I actually saw was your Andy, and I gave a very awkward "Hi Andy, Im here because I read about it on the blog" as you handed me the chants. But really I was there to support all of our rights. But was only made aware of the event because of the blog.

    So thank you Andy for making me aware of issues, as well as giving me something to read at work!

    Posted by: NJDesignGuy | Nov 13, 2008 9:49:19 AM

  3. Hi.
    Last night was a terrific success...let's use this as momentum and make the march on saturday the tops.
    Bring your lesbian friends.

    Posted by: MS | Nov 13, 2008 9:51:58 AM

  4. It's disappointing that there doesn't seem to be anything in the local press (unless I've just missed the articles). There was a little coverage on the local TV news channels, but not much.

    Posted by: Crash | Nov 13, 2008 9:52:28 AM

  5. I went and had a great time. Also met Whoopi—fun stuff:

    Let's do this more often!

    Posted by: Matthew Rettenmund | Nov 13, 2008 9:55:30 AM

  6. Yeah, seriously, last night was a total sausage fest. Where the hell were the girls? Aren't lesbians supposed to be more vocal in activism?

    Speaking of the guys last night, um, when did NYC get all the hot guys back?!?

    Posted by: freddy | Nov 13, 2008 9:56:18 AM

  7. Now it's Dallas's turn. Please show up at City Hall this Sat!

    Posted by: DS | Nov 13, 2008 10:00:28 AM

  8. DAVID O

    Yesterday's protest was for Prop 8. Saturday is the national rally for gay rights everywhere. Prop 8 resonated more because it was so darn close and also because it actually took rights away. But you're right in not forgetting the other states, so be sure to attend a rally in your state on Saturday.

    Here's where to go and what to do:

    Nice work last night, y'all. That was my first rally and it was great. Let's not let up.

    Posted by: Nathan | Nov 13, 2008 10:08:22 AM

  9. This is local Fox affiliate's coverage:

    Posted by: Ed | Nov 13, 2008 10:16:11 AM

  10. Ann Northrop, Whoopi Goldberg, Judy Gold, Kate Clinton, and plenty of other ladies were out in force.

    Posted by: JohnInManhattan | Nov 13, 2008 10:20:50 AM

  11. I was there last night. I saw lots of cameras, but where is the coverage in the press? There's nothing in the Times or NY1.

    Does anyone know how many people there were?

    Let's make Saturday amazing!

    Posted by: Alex | Nov 13, 2008 10:28:36 AM

  12. Great pics here:,%20Nov.%2012,%202008)/

    Posted by: JT | Nov 13, 2008 10:32:40 AM

  13. ALEX - The organizers said there were 10k people there, but the police said they "could not give a crowd estimate"

    The news report that ED posted says only 1k people. There were definitely wayyyyy more than 1000 people at the rally

    Posted by: Gabriel | Nov 13, 2008 10:33:17 AM

  14. Looks like local news in Utah picked it up too:

    Posted by: gabriel | Nov 13, 2008 10:35:08 AM


    Posted by: ERB | Nov 13, 2008 10:42:59 AM

  16. A few pictures here:

    Posted by: David | Nov 13, 2008 10:49:29 AM

  17. Fox said 1000. There was at least 10 times that. At least!
    I kept trying to get video or pictures that would show the size of the crowd but there was just no way. You had to be there

    Posted by: Jon-Marc | Nov 13, 2008 10:51:53 AM

  18. NATHAN: In response to your reply to my posting, you clearly didn't read my posting and you certainly didn't look at the contents of the site you sent me to! It's called, quote: "Fight the H8 - the NATIONAL protest on prop 8". What I said before and say again, of course each state should hold their own rallies, but something that's supposedly "national" should not just be in defense of one state. And your comment about CA being "different" because rights were taken away shows you really don't even understand the issue. People in Arkansas, gay and straight are having their CHILDREN taken away, and Domestic Partnerships were also banned in FL, not just "marriage". All I'm asking for is more inclusion and less focus on "8".

    Posted by: DAvid O | Nov 13, 2008 10:52:38 AM

  19. Good old Fox 5 News placed the estimate of people at 1,000. A Broadway Theatre holds 1500 so I know what 1,000 looks like and we were 10 times that last night.

    Posted by: Frank | Nov 13, 2008 10:59:14 AM

  20. Seriously, where is the local press? They all picked up the lame AP story.

    Um, shouldn't the Times mention this for the Metro section, at least?

    Posted by: huh | Nov 13, 2008 11:00:00 AM

  21. Just wanted to again thank Andy Towle for your invaluable service with this blog.

    Wish I could have been in NYC last night!!

    Posted by: M | Nov 13, 2008 11:05:05 AM

  22. Great turn out!! We're holding a protest this Saturday in front of the American Consulate here in Toronto. Very refreshing and amazing to see how many young people, especially university students, are attending.

    Posted by: Shabaka | Nov 13, 2008 11:05:16 AM

  23. As a San Francisco resident, I am touched. Thank you New York for standing up with us!

    Posted by: Mr. E | Nov 13, 2008 11:17:22 AM

  24. Well, I'm here in the good old rust-belt state of Indiana. I'm glad there was such a big turn out. Support from Indiana!

    Posted by: KFLO | Nov 13, 2008 11:19:41 AM

  25. Video of Prop 8 Protest - NYC

    Posted by: Wayne | Nov 13, 2008 11:20:33 AM

  26. « | 1 2 3 4 »

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