Last Night in Oak Lawn, a Call "to Forge a Proud and Dignified Civil Rights Movement"
At last night's "Day of Decision Rally," timed to coincide with the California Supreme Court's ruling on Proposition 8, the cries of "We're here! We're queer! Get used to it!" rang out above the roar of traffic at the corner of Cedar Springs Road and Oak Lawn Avenue.
"Se-pa-rate, church and hate!" chanted the crowd of about 60. "Gay rights for equal rights!"
Some drivers kept their windows up and their eyes on the road, but others honked in support, prompting loud cheers and whoops from the crowd. It was a colorful group, to say the least, with rainbow flags everywhere and signs ranging from "No H8" to "No more Mr. Nice Gay."
A few minutes after 7 p.m., Blake Wilkinson, founder of Queer LiberAction, took a megaphone to address the crowd. (We have a slide show from last night's rally here.)
"We're building a civil rights movement in the streets!" Wilkinson shouted. The crowd roared.
"A group of white men didn't just wake up one day and realize it was a good idea to give women the right to vote," Wilkinson added, to almost constant cheering. "Women won the right to vote by [demonstrating] in the streets and demanding the right to vote!"
In a rousing speech filled with references to Martin Luther King Jr., Plato and women's suffrage, Wilkinson issued a final challenge before leading the group, which had swelled to close to 200, up Cedar Springs to the Throckmorton Mining Company patio: "Are you going to fight?"
"Yeah!!" the crowd shouted, waving their signs and banners.
"Are you going to unapologetically stand up for your rights?" Wilkinson yelled.
"Are we going to forge a proud and dignified civil rights movement in the streets?"
A chant went up -- "Gay rights are human rights! Equal rights now!" -- as the crowd headed to TMC, where a series of speakers urged action. Charles Curtiss, the pastor of The One Church, an inclusive congregation in Garland, spoke about God's love; the occasional reference to James Dobson's Focus on the Family elicited a loud chorus of boos.
City council member Angela Hunt said a few brief words of encouragement, most of which were drowned out by the honks of passing cars and the replying cheers from the crowd. Mike McKay, the executive director of the Resource Center of Dallas, urged political action and channeled Ronald Reagan.
"Mr. Obama, tear down these walls!" McKay shouted, to a deafening roar.
Despite the threat of rain, the rally continued into the night, and though the crowd began to thin, the disappointment over the California court's decision was apparently no match for their hopeful enthusiasm. Maybe they got the memo that the battle isn't over: This morning, Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic noted that Ted Olson and David Boies -- who argued against each other in Bush v. Gore, for which Olson was Bush's first Solicitor General -- have joined forces to file a federal court challenge to Proposition 8. Fresh fodder for Sonia Sotomayor?
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