August 15, 2010
by Arisha Michelle Hatch
Fifteen minutes after the rally was scheduled to begin in a park between the U.S. Capitol and The Supreme Court, Brian Brown took to the stage to announce that the event will begin in 10 minutes.
“Another bus is on the way,” Brown said to the 44 attendees before him who decided to brave the on and off rain showers here in D.C.
Today, Brown won’t have the heat to blame, but he’s sure to blame it on the rain.
No sight of Maggie Gallagher or Dr. Alveda King just yet. Several news outlets are present. Courage Campaign Founder and Chair Rick Jacobs is being surrounded by reporters right now as he confronts Bishop Harry Jackson, the local majordomo who fought to defeat the legalization of the freedom to marry for same-sex marriage in DC and lost.
Equality activists are assembled at Freedom Plaza just up Pennsylvania Avenue, across from DC’s City Hall and a few blocks from the White House, where activists are celebrating the earlier win this year of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. There are also several counter-protesters here:
The bus that Brown referenced has finally arrived.
“Bishop Coles brought the calvary,” Brown said as a large African American congregation walked into the rally.
Ten minutes later another stream of about 18 NOM supporters approached with red and white signs reading “Let the People Vote.”
47 counter-protesters are assembled to the side with signs.
Bishop Harry Jackson is now speaking.
UPDATE BY ADAM (11:56 PST): Phyllis has radioed in with a hand-count of 248 equality supporters in Freedom Plaza:
A long line of speakers are now taking the stage, including Will Phillips, the brave young man from Arkansas who drew national media attention for his refusal to say the Pledge of Allegiance until LGBT individuals had full equality.
Organizers chose Freedom Plaza rather than the U.S. Capitol for many reasons, but one principal reason is to celebrate the recently-won freedom to marry for same-sex couples in DC, and there’s no more appropriate a place than Freedom Plaza, which sits across the street from DC’s City Hall.
UPDATE BY ADAM (12:07 PST): “Let the people vote!” is the chant of choice as Bishop Jackson, who unsuccessfully pushed a lawsuit to force a vote on DC’s new same-sex marriage law, tries to rally the crowds. Fortunately, election law prevents DC’s Human Rights Act, enacted in 1977 to protect people based on, among other classifications, sexual orientation, from being violated by a direct vote of the people (would be that it were the case in other states). Jackson and his cohorts recently lost at DC Superior Court on this issue.
UPDATE BY ADAM (12:12 PST): On that theme, DC Councilmember and straight ally Phil Mendelson, who did a great deal of the legwork in sponsoring the marriage legislation, rounding up the other 10 votes in support of it, and pushed back on the Catholic Diocese’s effort to torpedo the bill, is now speaking at the Freedom Plaza rally:
UPDATE BY ARISHA (12:16 PST): 53 additional equality supporters just marched to the Capitol to counter-protest. Many are wearing blue shirts with the word “Providence”. They are carrying a large yellow sign reading “Equality Delayed = Equality Denied. We’re Dying”
A counter-protester reads the names of murdered LGBT individuals as the police escort the group away from the NOM rally.
UPDATE BY ADAM (12:19 PST): More photos rolling in from Phyllis of equality supporters as the speaking program continues:
UPDATE BY ADAM (12:27 PST): Checking over reports in from friends and colleagues over Twitter. Reports of civil rights activist Walter Fauntroy’s speech are rolling in from the Capitol. Here’s what Courage Campaign Founder and Chair Rick Jacobs tweeted:
Walter Fauntroy: as a political scientist, I don’t believe in using wedge issues. Here he is using one.
AMERICABlog’s Joe Sudbay notes the presence of many Catholic priests at the NOM rally. Here in DC, the Catholic Diocese was a major opponent of the Marriage Equality Act under the guise that it would force them to offer equal benefits to spouses of their employees, when in reality DC law already did that. He also noted, accurately:
Stopped over at the NOM rally. What a difference. This event is based on hate and anger.
UPDATE BY ADAM (12:48 PST): It’s the NOMTourTracker.com’s Phyllis Lozano, putting down the camera and picking up the microphone to speak at today’s Freedom Plaza rally! Woo Phyllis!
Photo credit: Freedom to Marry
Phyllis is speaking about her experiences on this summer tour. If you missed her moving reflection piece last night- “Reflections on the NOM tour: The Front lines of loss, then equality”- you can read it here.
UPDATE BY ARISHA (12:53 PST): We’ve heard from a slew of energetic African American pastors.
Dr. Alveda King was on the speaking list, but she didn’t make it to D.C. Instead, NOM played a 2 minute pre-recorded message from her.
NOM is now having energetic gospel singers perform.
UPDATE BY ADAM (1:06 PST): Here’s Ronnie who you may know from the comments at the Freedom Plaza rally, with one of the most creative signs I’ve seen yet on tour!
And speaking of creative, I too bet NOM doesn’t have rainbow snow cones at their rally
Photo credit: Freedom to Marry
UPDATE BY ADAM (1:20 PST): For those of you in DC, don’t forget, we’ll be holding an official NOM Tour Tracker party after the rally on Sunday afternoon in DC, in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. If you’re at Freedom Plaza, you could either cab/carpool; hop on the Red Line at the nearby Metro Center to Dupont Circle and walk a few blocks; or take a nice long walk north, probably 30 minutes or so. Details below. I’ll be checking out and heading over in awhile. Hope to meet many of you there!
Sunday, August 15th, 5-7 PM
NOM Tour Tracker End of Tour Celebration
Annie’s Paramount Steak House
1609 17th Street Northwest (between Q and R)
Metro: Dupont Circle, Q street exit(202) 232-0395