August 13, 2010
by Arisha Michelle Hatch
For a rally following Judge Walker’s ruling yesterday that same-sex couples in California could again begin to marry on August 18th (if you missed it, we covered it here and analyzed here), we came to Harrisburg expecting all kinds of Sturm und Drang from NOM. Instead, we got #NOMtourFAIL: a shockingly dull rally accompanied by rain.
Nonetheless, NOM’s attendance actually managed to outnumber grassroots equality counterprotesters 75 to 53.
Although keep in mind that Equality Pennsylvania chose to hold its counter-event last night, which was well-attended but no doubt detracted from pro-equality attendance that might have otherwise been here today. More on that later.
Those driving down Third Street in front of the Capitol steps had a choice who to honk for – NOM supporters waving handmade “honk for traditional marriage” signs or signs made by equality supporters.
But other than that, this was a dull rally- maybe the dullest yet- that failed to excite supporters. Brian Brown went into religious mode, though.
“There was really no reason to have a trial,” said Brian Brown, speaking about the Prop 8 trial. “I’m confident that God works in mysterious ways . . . But this is going to be a long haul for us. God forbid the Supreme Court [agrees with the decision because] our only recourse will be to go to the people for a Constitutional amendment.”
We have some intense videos coming from NOM rank and file supporters, too. Stay tuned.
UPDATE BY ADAM (11:19 PST): More details on the pro-equality event last night. Equality Pennsylvania chose to hold an event last night rather than today, which consisted of a screening of the new documentary Stonewall Uprising and a youth LGBT panel from four local universities. About 60 people were in attendance, according to Zack Ford, who does his own LGBT-related blogging in the area. He has more:
The event consisted of a screening of the new documentary Stonewall Uprising, which I found particularly compelling. Even when you know a lot of the history and precedent for your community, there is something incredibly powerful about hearing the story told by the people who were actually there. It’s also a stark reminder that what we know as “Pride” today started there, yet most people don’t understand the important historical roots of such events. If you have a chance to see this film, do.
Following the film was a youth panel, featuring student leaders from local universities (UPenn, Millersville, Lincoln, and Gettysburg). They spoke about the work they have been doing to increase visibility for our community, humanize LGBT people, and educate their peers on our issues. They were passionate and really related to the film, saying “anger can be a firestarter” and “you cant wait for others to achieve equality for you.”
It was great to hear about some of the successes at Millersville, but disappointing to hear about some of the frustrations at Lincoln, our nation’s oldest HBCU. There, they only started their LGBT student organization last year for the first time. We often think of our universities as these sanctuaries for LGBT students, but many have long ways to go.
It’s hard to make an objective judgment about how many of those 60 would have attended today instead of last night, but if you take just a third, both sides would end up having about the same number of people at the Capitol.
UPDATE BY ADAM (11:25 PST): More photos of equality supporters in from Phyllis:
UPDATE BY ADAM (1:49 PST): Zack Ford also attended the rally. You can read the full take over there, but a quick excerpt of notable stuff:
Our numbers were hovering just around 50 at any given time. We were mostly engaged in a honking war. People driving down the street from our side would honk for us and we’d cheer. Folks coming the other direction would honk for NOM (and the Catholics standing by the street, though that’s almost redundant), then see us and hide their faces in shame. It was pretty interesting to watch, and it was great to see so many passers-by offer us their support, including company truck drivers, city bus drivers, and even pizza delivery folks!
I think our counterprotest was extremely effective. We did very few cheers while NOM’s speakers were yakking away, but it might not have mattered because the street and bus were a great buffer. I say great, because we had a whole lot more visibility to traffic and the media spent a lot of time filming us and interviewing us. You can also see from the photos that we had a lot of positive messages and a great spirit of family, and we did chant, it was messages of love and equality. We also sang “This Land Is Your Land” and “Gentle Loving People.”