House Democrats Protest California's Proposition 8

A collection of House Democrats are protesting silently against Proposition 8 today, participating in a photo shoot to draw attention to California's state law banning same-sex marriage.

Today, the NOH8 campaign released images of 10 members of the House of Representatives from its " NOH8 on the Hill" photo shoot; the campaign opposes California's Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, and supports the LGBT community with its stand against bullying and discrimination.

Four Democratic lawmakers from California - Reps. Judy Chu, Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee and Jackie Speier - joined Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), William Keating (Mass.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Niki Tsongas (Mass.), Jared Polis (Colo.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) in the cause.

"Equality before the law is an American value articulated in our Constitution and it's at the heart of the NOH8 Campaign," Polis, one of a handful of openly homosexual members of Congress, said. "With a focus on our nation's value of freedom and an unflagging insistence on equality for all, we can look forward to a time when equal rights for all is a given."

Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's ruling that California's ban on same-sex marriage violates both the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution. That ruling, however, is pending further appeal.

"Our nation was founded upon the principle of equality," Kucinich said. "It is imperative that we work for equal rights for all in order to make that principle a reality. Love isn't gay or straight, tall or short, black or white. It is for everyone."

The photo shoot, which occurred on Capitol Hill on Feb. 15, was open to any members of Congress willing to take a stand against the controversial law, although no Congressional Republicans participated.

Each member issued a statement explaining why they had the NOH8 logo applied to their face, along with a piece of silver duct tape covering up their mouths.

"Gay and lesbian Americans are part of the fabric that makes this country strong," Blumenauer said. "The notion that we could ask these men and women to do everything from paying taxes to serving our country in uniform while denying them the right to marry is offensive to everything I believe in as a public servant. I won't stop working for equal rights in Congress until they have been extended to every American."

"These pictures speak volumes about the will of the American people to be treated the same, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation," Chu stated.

Proposition 8 is the ballot initiative passed in 2008 to amend the California constitution and ban same-sex marriage. About 18,ooo same-sex couples had already obtained marriage licenses in the state before voters approved the law.

"What's at stake is the human dignity of LGBT people," Woolsey said. "To deny equal rights and freedoms based on sexual orientation does violence to American values."