SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 15, 2008— -- Nearly two weeks after California voters narrowly passed Proposition 8, an amendment to the state constitution that effectively bans same-sex marriage, the backlash continues to build beyond the state's borders.
Today was dubbed a national day of protest. Organizers used Internet sites such as Facebook to draw huge crowds from New York to Los Angeles, and hundreds of cities in between.
Shouts of "yes we can," echoing one of the slogans of President-elect Obama's campaign, and signs reading "No on H8" peppered the protests. Advocates are trying to turn the vote on Proposition 8 into a countrywide referendum on gay rights, calling it "the new frontier in the civil rights movement."
One of the largest rallies was on the steps of San Francisco City Hall, considered ground zero in the battle for same sex marriage.
Lesbian activist Carole Migden whipped the crowd up as she declared, "They hate us. Let's just acknowledge it."
Then she pushed the crowd "to turn our rage into action."
The protests lining the streets were quite a contrast to the joyful celebrations of same-sex weddings that populated city halls throughout California all summer long. Those ceremonies were filled with a sense of hope and acceptance. Now that has given way to anger, defiance, and a war of words.
The Mormon church has become one of the key targets of protestors after it was revealed that their members contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat gay marriage. Picketers today surrounded Mormon temples in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.
Envelopes with an unidentified white power was discovered at both temples. Authorities examined the substance and found it not be be toxic.
Donors to Prop 8 have been listed on Web sites and some claim they've been forced to resign from their jobs. A Sacramento musical theater director says he was blacklisted for contributing $1,000 to the initiative.
The leadership of the Protect Marriage.com coalition defended themselves against what they call "vicious attacks."
"For 14 months, we have been called bigots and hatemongers and we have not retaliated against the unprecendented attacks," Pastor Jim Garlow said. "But we will not be silenced."
Neither will the other side, it seems.
"I think the Morrmon church's invovlement in Prop 8 has probably been one of the most distrubing experiences of my life," said Clark Pingree, a gay man who grew up as a Mormon and went to Brigham Young University.
Pingree criticized "a church getting involved in politics to the extent where 77 percent of the funds sponsoring the 'yes on anti-gay campaign' are coming from members of the Mormon church."
"Was this really the will of the people or was this election overrun by people from out of state by out-of-state money?" he asked.
Waving a sign that read "Mormons love gays," Pingree spoke today at the rally here, telling the crowd, "I now must be loyal to myself."
Supporters of same-sex marriage have filed a lawsuit with the California Supreme court, which already threw out one ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage.
"If Prop 8 is allowed to stand, it goes much beyond the issue of marriage equality and puts all of our rights at risk," said San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera, who is leading the legal fight.
At the demonstrations across the country today, members of the grassroots movement that organized the national day of protest today vowed they will not stop until everyone can marry, regardless of their sexuality.