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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. PLEASE don't banner slogans like God Loves Gay Marriage... religious acceptance has no place in this reality-based struggle for civil rights.
    It's highly inappropriate to pollute, minimize, and hijack the debate to the debased level of the religious bigots. If religious gays want religious acceptance that's an entirely different cause to raise in a completely different forum.

    Posted by: A.J. | Nov 13, 2008 4:39:01 PM

  2. It doesn't MATTER if not all of Utah is Mormon or that not all Mormons voted for Prop 8. Withdrawing our support of Utah (financial or otherwise), AS A UNIFIED, COMMITTED GROUP, sends a clear message as to the strength of our movement and the consequences of bigotry in general.

    Posted by: big picture | Nov 13, 2008 4:40:03 PM

  3. PLEASE don't banner slogans like God Loves Gay Marriage... religious acceptance has no place in this reality-based struggle for civil rights.
    It's highly inappropriate to pollute, minimize, and hijack the debate to the debased level of the religious bigots. If religious gays want religious acceptance that's an entirely different cause to raise in a completely different forum.

    Posted by: A.J. | Nov 13, 2008 4:40:31 PM

  4. Very nicely accomplished, Mr. Towle, and congrats to your team of (un)organizers for a superbly (un)planned and (un)structured event. This is the way stuff will get done in the future. It marks a power shift in the leadership of the gay community. Not many people are commenting on this secondary aspect of the event because they are rightly preoccupied with the central issue of prop8/church&state. But I am more fascinated by the viral genesis of this event and by the fact that it will most certainly be replicated elsewhere. We are on the verge of no longer needing formal (and sometimes hidebound) advocacy groups to pave a way for us down Main Street. Blog, seen yesterday as a media appendix, is now the new bicep. You flexed. We moved. Do more reps.

    Posted by: father tony | Nov 13, 2008 4:41:11 PM

  5. Oh, Andy, you are mighty fine looking indeed! Can I marry you?!

    Posted by: nikko | Nov 13, 2008 4:49:09 PM

  6. A bunch of people who voted for a candidate who is against gay marriage are protesting other people who are against gay marriage. Yeah. Okay. Very effective.

    Posted by: Paul | Nov 13, 2008 4:50:55 PM

  7. Tony Perkins' smirk enrages me! We must find a way (reversal by the courts or winning the next vote)to wipe that smirk off his his face! Everybody march on Saturday!

    Posted by: Rocco | Nov 13, 2008 5:26:16 PM

  8. does anyone know whether the NYPD issued a parade permit ahead of time for the rally?

    Posted by: andy | Nov 13, 2008 5:40:30 PM

    MY BAD

    I originally thought of the whole No on 8 thing as a bunch of arrogant upper middle class white Weho queens who didn't have the sense god gave them to actively court the black community in the lead up to Prop 8. I figured that losing would be a good slap in the face to their arrogance.

    I was right.

    It was a slap in the face.

    To me.

    If this many of my brothers and sisters are this inspired/enraged to hold these grassroots demonstrations, then who am I to question this movement?

    I am onboard fully. I still have my issues with the way the campaign was run , however, I am impressed and i think everyone learned their lesson about working together.

    Including me.

    I am on my way right now to paint signs for this weekends rally in Las Vegas. If anyone wants to help call 702 733 9800 (the LGBT Center) and ask how you can help. I'll be posting pics this evening on my blog (just click my name). Hopefully, I'll see all Las Vegans this weekend!

    Derek Washington
    2008 Nevada Demcratic Delegate

    Posted by: Derek Washington | Nov 13, 2008 5:49:31 PM

  10. When will conservatives realize that they are always, 100% without fail, on the wrong side of history? They were the ones screeching for loyalty to the King. They were the ones who said the Civil Rights movement would bring about Armageddon. And today they stand in the way of gay rights. They will lose this one, too.

    Posted by: Nick | Nov 13, 2008 5:49:49 PM

  11. Yes, a police permit was obtained for the protest.

    Posted by: andy | Nov 13, 2008 5:55:56 PM

  12. Here are my photos, as seen on Gothamist:

    Posted by: Max | Nov 13, 2008 11:43:58 PM

  13. Thank you NYC and thank you to everyone else that is standing up right now...I love you all...

    Posted by: Cody | Nov 14, 2008 5:09:50 PM

  14. “[ Footnote 4 ] The intelligence community believed that it was necessary "to conceal these activities from the American public in general," because public knowledge of the "unethical and illicit activities would have serious repercussions in political and diplomatic circles and would be detrimental to the accomplishment of its mission." Id., at 394 (quoting CIA Inspector General's Survey of the Technical Services Division, p. 217 (1957)).” See [Footnote 4 of IV] U.S. 709 U.S. Supreme Court 1987 STANLEY military experiment case. [3] The "Veterans Right to Know Act" to establish the Veterans' Right to Know Commission was proposed in the 2005 and H.R. 4259 [109th] 2006 Congress.[9] In accordance with the ongoing greater good necessity “to conceal these activities...” a veteran's right to get the U.S. Senate’s “designed to harm” needed for treatment, and experiment identifying, evidence never became law.

    To-date rejected is the U.S. Senate 1994 Report’s, “The Feres Doctrine should not be applied for military personnel who are harmed by inappropriate human experimentation when informed consent has not been given.”[8] Despite the 16 of 66 year efforts of some, the U.S. Congress has failed to protect service personnel from “to harm” experiments. Therefore, do not the U.S. Senate’s reported Department of Defense (DOD) “EXPERIMENTS THAT WERE DESIGNED TO HARM” [8] continue?

    Please have your members in the U.S. Congress give back to service personnel and veterans those rights that convicted rapists and murderers keep, e.g., “Written policy and practice prohibit the use of” [prison] “inmates for medical.....experiments.”! See page 13 of 14, REF: [6] The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1987 STANLEY [3] “to harm” DOD experiment is approved by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1950 FERES [1] ‘can do no wrong, ends justify the means’ Doctrine. The STANLEY case is one of the U.S. Senate’s 1994 “During the last 50 years, hundreds of thousands of military personnel” were subjected to “experiments that were designed to harm”, e.g., the reported biological and chemical agents, radiation exposure, hallucinogenic and investigational drugs, experimental vaccines and behavior modification projects.[8] It is a dereliction of duty in direct disobedience of the DOD Secretary's 26 February 1953 NO non-consensual, human experiments.[2] During the U.S. Senate’s reported past 50 years, most of the "to harm" service records were destroyed in a 1973 National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) fire. Congress’s 1974 Privacy Act censored experiment verifying witnesses from any surviving records!

    After the 1987 STANLEY, Congress passed the 1988 Veterans’ Judicial Review Act (VJRA).[4] Established was the Legislative, Article I severely restricted, U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals. In 1994 its Chief Judge stated, "The Court simply identifies error made below by a failure to adhere, in individual cases, to the Constitution, statutes, and regulations which themselves reflect policy -- policy freely ignored by many initial adjudicators whose attitude is, "I haven't been told by my boss to change. If you don't like it -- appeal it."[7] Congress dictated that, "The court may not review the schedule of ratings for disabilities or the policies underlying the schedule."[4] Given to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) is the Judicial Branch’s final authority on "the policies underlying the schedule" questions of law![5]

    Each "to harm" experiment completes a Research and Development (R&D) process. Prior R&D is reviewed. The resulting Scope of Work defines what each experiment is "designed" to accomplish. The how, where, when and who is identified. The conducted RESEARCHED cause and effects are closely followed and recorded. From the results are DEVELOPED safe production, use, victim treatment and protection. Accordingly, at the time known are the recorded and withheld “designed to harm” resultant “schedule” disabilities with their identifying symptoms and treatment. Ignored by the U.S. Congress is the service personnel rights lost vs. prison inmate kept!

    Overlooked by many in Congress is our “Pledge of Allegiance” “with liberty and justice for all" and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ignored own, carved in stone over its entrance, “EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW”!


    [1] 1950 - Feres v. United States, 340 U.S. 135, 146 (1950).

    [2] 1953 - DOD Secretary's 26 February 1953 NO non-consensual, human experiment’s Memo pages 343-345. George J. Annas and Michael A. Grodin, "The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code; Human Rights in Human Experimentation” (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).

    [3] 1987 - U.S. SUPREME COURT, JUNE 25, 1987, U.S. V. STANLEY , 107 S. CT.. 3054 (VOLUME 483 U.S., SECTION 669, PAGES 699 TO 710).

    [4] 1988 - Veterans’ Judicial Review Act (VJRA), Pub. L. No. 100-687, Div. A, 102 Stat. 4105 (8 December 1988) DVA-Chapter 4 and

    [5] "United States Code (USC) Title 38, 511. Decisions of the Secretary; finality." US CODE: Title 38511. Decisions of the Secretary; finality.

    [6] 1994 - U.S. State Dept., "U.S. Report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights July 1994, Article 7 - Freedom from Torture, or Cruel, Inhuman
    or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.” Electronic Research Collections (ERC)

    [7] 1994 - Chief Judge and colleague statements, Court of Veterans Appeals, Annual Judicial Conference, Fort Meyer, VA., 17 & 18 October 1994. Chief Judge Frank Nebeker's Statement STATE OF COURT - - - URL:

    [8] 1994 - December 8, 1994 REPORT 103-97 "Is Military Research Hazardous to Veterans' Health? Lessons Spanning Half a Century." Hearings Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, 103rd Congress 2nd Session.

    [9] 2005 & 2006 - "Veterans Right to Know Act" to establish the Veterans' Right to Know Commission was proposed in the 2005 and H.R. 4259 [109th] 2006 Congress. H. R. 4259.

    Posted by: David Marshall | Sep 13, 2010 11:03:41 AM

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