As fires raged in the outlying suburbs of Los Angeles, over 20,000 supporters of equal marriage rights marched peacefully through downtown Los Angeles as part of a national day of protest against the passage of Proposition 8 which eliminated the right to marry, granted by the California Supreme Court earlier this year.
Thousands arrived by public transportation, and the Metro added extra trains to handle the crowd. The guys I rode with had never been on the Metro before, and my train car was full of excitement:
It’s not snakes on a plane–it’s gays on a train! This is the best ad for the Metro ever, look at all of us riding. This is so much fun!
And later during the march, some demonstrators ducked into pho shops for Vietnamese noodles, while others took advantage of Phillipe’s Original French Dip and Olvera Street’s Mexican restaurants. So yes, it was a civil rights march, but it was also a chance to explore downtown LA.
The demonstration began with speeches by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Pastor Eric P. Lee of the Los Angeles branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, actors Alec Mapa, Rikki Lake and Lucy Lawless, Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, and Lorrie Jean from the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. The crowd cheered and applauded, their signage focused on equal rights, civil rights and the separation of church and state.
The march, which kicked off with cool alternative rock songs broadcasting and chants of "Yes we can!," was loooooong, all the way to Los Angeles Historic Park, which bears the unfortunate civic nickname of "the Cornfield," like in the Twilight Zone episode, you know the one where Billy Mumy wished people he didn’t like into the cornfield. Yeah, unfortunate choice namewise but there was a little difference, and everyone felt wanted: The city had arranged for food vendors and portapotties–and they also appear to be absorbing the cost of the street closures, LAPD officers, riot ponies and the helicopters.