More than 50 gather in wake of marriage defeat in Maine, call on Obama, Congress to lead way in LGBT equality struggle
More than 50 people gathered on the Cedar Springs strip in Dallas on Wednesday night, Nov. 4, to protest Maine voters’ decision a day earlier to repeal same-sex marriage.
The Dallas protesters first gathered around the Legacy of Love Monument at Cedar Springs Road and Oak Lawn Avenue, chanting slogans and waving flags and signs as they elicited honks from passing motorists.
The protesters then marched down Cedar Springs Road to Throckmorton Street, stopping traffic briefly, before gathering in front of the former Crossroads Market to hear from a handful of speakers.
"Civil rights must never be put up for a vote," yelled Daniel Cates, co-founder of Equality March Texas, the group that organized the protest. "If civil rights were put to a vote, President Obama wouldn’t be President Obama."
Other speakers echoed the theme.
"As a minority group, we can never, ever have our rights put up to a popular vote," said Erin Moore, president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.
"I really want to forget about this state by state struggle," Moore added. "I know we need to build ground momentum, I know it all starts locally, but it’s time for federal rights. We need [President] Obama, the legislators we have elected, that we work hard to elect, to stand up for the people they represent. We need them to pass federal legislation that says we are the citizens that we know we are."
Jesse Garcia, president of LULAC 4871-The Dallas Rainbow Council, encouraged people to register to vote, get involved politically and come out not only as LGBT, but also as activists.
"Last night Americans once again saw the rights and privileges afforded to gay couples stripped away by the voting public," Garcia said. "Bigots were given the opportunity to go into a voting booth and decide someone else’s civil rights by pushing a button. It seems America has not learned about the hurt and pain caused by California."
Blake Wilkinson, founder of Queer LiberAction, said the vote in Maine marked the 31st time in history that LGBT civil rights have been put to a popular vote, and he said that each of those times, we’ve lost.
"We know that civil rights gains are won from the legislatures and the courts, so where does that leave us?" Wilkinson said. "We have to build a grassroots direct action movement from the streets that will not ask for equality from our elected officials, but will demand equality from our elected officials."
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 06, 2009.