Activism | California | Mormon | New York | News | Proposition 8

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.

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. I'm boycotting Utah, California, Florida, Arizona and Arkansas

    Posted by: D | Nov 13, 2008 11:21:28 AM

  2. Here's the coverage (better late than never, I guess):

    Posted by: Feral | Nov 13, 2008 11:22:24 AM

  3. I love posts with photos of Andy.

    Posted by: Eric | Nov 13, 2008 1:59:24 PM

  4. California sends their love. Thanks NY!

    Why is it that the AP always downsizes the
    marches? I went last Friday to the one here in San Fran and the AP said 1000 people and the news said 15,000!

    Posted by: willy | Nov 13, 2008 2:01:51 PM

  5. Here is my footage from last night. Enjoy.

    Posted by: MS | Nov 13, 2008 2:04:31 PM

  6. I never felt more connected to the gay community. Wow! It's so beautiful.

    Posted by: Bill | Nov 13, 2008 2:13:59 PM

  7. This is an amazing recap. Well done!
    I'm so glad my husband and I turned out for it. It was empowering to be in that group last night. Thanks to everyone who organized.

    Hopefully the crowd will be even bigger for Saturday's!

    Posted by: Jeff | Nov 13, 2008 2:19:18 PM

  8. While appreciate the support in NY of defeating prop 8, shouldn't New Yorkers be protesting the lack of marriage equality in New York?

    Posted by: timmeeeyyyy | Nov 13, 2008 2:21:20 PM

  9. Wow, great report Andy!

    I'm so ready for the rally here in Atlanta this Saturday!!!

    Posted by: Tom S. | Nov 13, 2008 2:22:35 PM

  10. God loves gay marriage?

    Please! Let's not stoop to the level of those who blindly follow dogma. I wouldn't march behind a banner proclaiming something that inane. This is a protest about basic human rights - not skyghost's approval.

    Posted by: Roy | Nov 13, 2008 2:23:25 PM

  11. Thanks Andy, yes Eric I love posts with photos of that handsome man Andy too. :)

    Posted by: Mike | Nov 13, 2008 2:27:26 PM

  12. i wish i could be there to rally with you guys!
    stuck in arizona til the cold leaves nyc.
    any pics of andy make me happy. youre a hot little man :)

    Posted by: Peter Pony | Nov 13, 2008 2:29:54 PM

  13. Hey Andy, I'm pretty sure the woman with the sign about Barack's parents is Annie Proulx, the author of Brokeback Mountain. I've worked with her before, and I'm almost certain that's her.

    Posted by: Nick | Nov 13, 2008 2:38:20 PM

  14. WHATSTHEPOINT said: "sadly these protests really do nothing... what's the point...just like any other protest they don't really "change" anything"
    Posted by: what's the point... | Nov 13, 2008 8:11:21 AM


    I was there last changed me.

    Posted by: Jeff Hall | Nov 13, 2008 3:39:16 PM

  15. That picture of Corey Johnson looks like Jack Nicholson at the end of the Shining =

    Posted by: Just observin | Nov 13, 2008 3:43:18 PM

  16. I was there, I feel this is the beginning of something great. Something big.

    Posted by: ryan charisma | Nov 13, 2008 3:43:42 PM

  17. Dan Savage bitch slap Tony Perkins.

    Posted by: frank | Nov 13, 2008 3:47:55 PM

  18. Great night NYC !!
    Bummer of a banner ??:( This is a civil rights discussion not a competition for "God's" approval. Lets hope we can strike those sentiments from Saturdays rallies.

    Posted by: aidanc | Nov 13, 2008 3:48:06 PM

  19. Dan Savage bitch slap Tony Perkins.

    Posted by: frank | Nov 13, 2008 3:49:50 PM

  20. I have a dream, and, yes. we. can.
    equality for all.

    Posted by: kevin r. | Nov 13, 2008 3:56:53 PM

  21. GJ Newyorkers. Time to ramp it up and do it every week.

    Posted by: Landis | Nov 13, 2008 3:59:08 PM

  22. I have a dream, and, yes. we. can.
    equality for all.

    Posted by: kevin r. | Nov 13, 2008 4:04:02 PM

  23. Andy, I'm so envious of you and all the other gay brothers and sisters.....huge respect admiration and gratitude for your courage and integrity. I will always love this site. Respect and solidarity to everyone from Ireland

    Posted by: Hephaistion | Nov 13, 2008 4:09:48 PM

  24. Wow! Guess we missed A LOT by arriving 15 mins late and marching near the front of the pack. Was still a great experience, though, and am so glad to see all this great coverage.

    Posted by: Matt K | Nov 13, 2008 4:10:11 PM

  25. Someone should look into how much the Mormons and their allies i.e. Saddleback Church, Black churches in LA, spent this year on the REAL enemies of the family (poverty, lack of education, spousal/substance abuse, and marriage counseling/divorce.)

    Something tells me it pales in comparison to the time, energy and money spent on Prop 8 - further proving that this was never about saving marriage but rather keeping gays in their place.


    Posted by: Kurt Thomas | Nov 13, 2008 4:18:42 PM

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