Thousands Meet in Fresno for Marriage Equality Rally
Thousands of gays and lesbians met in Fresno, California on Saturday for "Meet in the Middle 4 Equality", a march and rally for LGBT equality in reaction to the Supreme Court's decision on Proposition 8.
The L.A. Times reports: "Aiming to reach out to conservative voters, about 3,000 gay-rights supporters gathered Saturday in California's Central Valley in a renewed campaign to win support for same-sex marriage. They staged the march in California's heartland to prominently demonstrate in a socially conservative region. Also, they wanted to pay "symbolic respect" to 1960s civil rights marches in places like Selma, Ala."
Marchers walked 15 miles from Selma, California to Fresno and were joined by Reverend Eric Lee, President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Christine Chavez, granddaughter of United Farm Workers' Union Cesar Chavez, actors Eric McCormack, Michelle Clunie, T.R. Knight, Charlize Theron, activist Cleve Jones, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, and others.
Said organizer Robin McGehee before the march: "You have got to reach into those communities that struggle to understand us."
The SF Chronicle reports: "Same-sex-marriage supporters weren't harassed or bothered Saturday along their route, and there weren't counter-demonstrations of any size. The stray drag queens who milled about the crowd Saturday were anomalies; most of the crowd was dressed for the weather, sporting nothing louder than the homemade T-shirt worn by 24-year-old Kate Perry: 'Central Valley Grown Queer.'"
Said McCormack at the rally: "We are the gays they accepted. The straightest most conservative people in the world would come up to me in Texas or wherever and say 'I never miss 'Will and Grace.' I hope that my presence here, and the fact that I played that character for so many years, would make them realize there is a middle ground that is called humanity."
Gay marriage opponents rallied there as well, the following day: "Hundreds of people waived signs and rallied at Fresno City Hall on Sunday to show support for the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in California, a day after thousands marched in the area against the ban. People attending the rally wore T-shirts and held signs that read 'Still standing in the middle for marriage,' as area religious leaders and politicians spoke in support of Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure that restricts nuptials to a union between a man and a woman."
Speakers, like former Fresno Alan Autry, were met with cries of "shame" by counter-protesters, reports the AP, who were yelled at to go home and read the Bible.
Several videos - a fantastic montage by Sean Chapin, as well as videos of speakers Robin McGehee, Dan Choi, Eric McCormack and Cleve Jones, AFTER THE JUMP...
(MORE videos in our video widget in the right hand column of the site)
Robin McGehee and Dan Choi:
Eric McCormack interview and Cleve Jones speech: