There was going to be a rally last night one way or the other. Local activists had scheduled the Dallas Day of Decision Rally for 7 p.m. of whatever day the Supreme Court issued its ruling on Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, and depending on how those decisions went the rally would either be a protest or a celebration. And yesterday morning they found out they'd be celebrating, as the Supreme Court announced its 5-4 decision that struck down part of DOMA that denied federal benefits to married same sex couples, and the 5-4 decision that the court didn't have jurisdiction to hear the Prop 8 case from California, a decision that effectively means gay marriages are legal in that state.
"I was hopeful, but I was nervous," said C.D. Kirven, a lead organizer for GetEQUAL TX. She was so nervous because the day before the Supreme Court "gutted the Voting Rights Act," so it seemed a very real possibility that the justices would uphold DOMA and Prop 8.
The rally took place at the Frank H. Caven Memorial Garden in Oak Lawn and featured speakers from League of United Latin American Citizens, the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, Lambda Legal and the DFW Human Rights Campaign among others. About 500 people attended, with the police shutting down traffic. Many people carried rainbow or American flags, or signs slogans like "Love is love" and "Marriage is not about gender."
Many of the speakers issued calls to arms, pointing out that although the day's court decisions were progress there was still work ahead. Samuel Sanchez of the DFW Human Rights Campaign stressed the need to overturn state constitutional amendments against same-sex marriage. Kirven added, after the rally, "We still have to fight for immigration."
"This is the first step in a long matter," she said. "And we need the community and we need our allies to make that happen."
Many also invoked activists like Harvey Milk and Martin Luther King Jr. Patti Fink of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance paraphrased King's quote ("The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice") saying, "That arc is long but today that arc is a rainbow."
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"The future of the United States of America looks more like us than anybody else," said the Reverend Steve Sprinkle of Brite Divinity School.
Just before the crowd dispersed, Philip Kingston, newly elected to City Council, voiced his support.
"You have allies on the City Council," he told the crowd, "and because I believe I should never stand between the LGBT community and a drink, I'll shut up now."
Kirven then charged the crowd to march down Cedar Springs to the bars, "and prove that love is stronger."