I will be posting my own photos and videos later today. Below are news items I have found on the Equality Rally and Vigil held yesterday in Salt Lake City in tandem with the National Call to Action. You can view the comments to these news articles by clicking on the link.
Hundreds take to S.L. streets to protest, support Prop. 8 ban on gay marriage
By Ethan Thomas, Aaron Falk and Joseph M. Dougherty
Hundreds of demonstrators waving signs and rainbow-colored flags gathered in downtown Salt Lake City Saturday as the fight over gay marriage continued to intensify more than a week after California voters passed Proposition 8.
More than half of California voters were in favor of the constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union between one man and one woman, but Proposition 8 detractors have lashed out against members of the LDS Church in recent days.
Demonstrators held signs that read, “When do I get to vote on your marriage?” and “Proposition h8.”
“It’s upsetting to see churches pouring so much money and time and effort into taking away rights,” said Davida Wegner, who waited for more than 40 hours at a Massachusetts courthouse to be married 18 months ago.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement Friday in response to recent demonstrations — and in some cases vandalism — at church buildings.
“Attacks on churches and intimidation of people of faith have no place in civil discourse over controversial issues,” the statement reads. “People of faith have a democratic right to express their views in the public square without fear of reprisal. … We call upon those who have honest disagreements on this issue to urge restraint upon the extreme actions of a few that are further polarizing our communities and urge them to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward each other.” (See entire statement at http://www.newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/)
Three smaller rallies — two in support of Proposition 8 and one against — also took place in downtown Salt Lake City Saturday afternoon and evening.
Saturday night, about 400 anti-Proposition 8 demonstrators descended on the south lawn of Utah’s Capitol Hill to spell the word “equality” in 20-foot block letters using 10,000 candles.
It took about 45 minutes to get candles lit, as a light wind threatened to blow them out. Vigil organizer Patrick York said he hoped people would see the vigil as show of solidarity. Gay and straight Utahns participated.
Eventually, he said, “equality is going to shine from every capital.”
Trent Romijn and Jacob DeGering, a gay couple who attended the vigil, said they hope one day that Utah will recognize same-sex marriage or at least a civil union.
But right now, they just want to feel like a part of the community and approved of the vigil’s peaceful nature.
“This is a huge snowball, and it’s starting to roll,” Romijn said.
Earlier in the day, at the large anti-Proposition 8 rally, Salt Lake City resident Dominique Storni said she is “thankful to our Mormon brothers and sisters. I am thankful they have awakened our sleeping giant.”
As Sandra Rodrigues of Cottonwood Heights stood on the outskirts of the rally, holding a sign that read “Please Respect Democracy,” several people confronted her and asked her to “stop the hate.”
Rodrigues, however, said she has no ill will toward the gay community. She just wants everyone to accept the decision of a majority of California voters.
“They are questioning the vote of the people and the right that they have to vote for whatever they want,” Rodrigues said. “They should not be intimidating and harassing people.”
Also on the outskirts of the crowd, Paul Trane and Richard Teerlink held flags with 50 white stars against a blue background and rainbow stripes. Both former Mormons who served missions and were married to women in LDS temples, Trane and Teerlink married each other last June in California after being together for more than 15 years.
“We are tired of being treated as second-class citizens,” Teerlink said.
Jeff Key, a gay Iraq war veteran, told the crowd that the LDS Church’s involvement in Proposition 8 has turned Utah into “ground zero” for the gay civil rights movement.
“You called us out,” Key said. “You did this.”
In one of the smaller rallies, local street preacher Lonnie Pursiful marched five city blocks with a small group of supporters from City Creek Park to the City-County Building, carrying anti-gay signs and wearing T-shirts with similar messages.
The group gathered on the east side of Washington Square, surrounded by Salt Lake City police, but that didn’t stop a few shouting matches from breaking out as those protesting Proposition 8 arrived at the rally.
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Salt Lake Tribune
Utah gay marriage supporters predict surge of activism
By Stephen Hunt
Proponents of gay marriage rallied in Salt Lake City Saturday, as speakers predicted a groundswell of activism would be spurred by the LDS Church’s support of Proposition 8 in California.
“I’m so glad Salt Lake City has become ground zero,” said Jeff Key, a former U.S. Marine and Iraq War veteran who was discharged after coming out as gay.
He predicted that when gay marriage is one day legalized, “We’ll say, ‘This is the Place.’ ”
Key was the keynote speaker at the event, organized by grass-roots group Join the Impact at the City-County Building in Washington Square. It was one of 80 rallies planned nationally Saturday to protest same-sex-marriage bans,including Proposition 8.
Rally organizer Elaine Ball said that judging by the numbers who attended, “America is ready for a change.”
Ball, a married Salt Lake City woman, added: “It’s a community thing for me. These are everybody’s neighbors.”
Salt Lake City police Lt. Lamar Ewell estimated as many as 2,000 people attended the rally. He said there were heated verbal exchanges between proponents and opponents of gay marriage, but no violence.
“Everybody minded their p’s and q’s, which we appreciated,” Ewell said. About 50 officers patrolled the square.
The day of protest culminated with a vigil on the south lawn of the state Capitol, where by 7 p.m. about 500 supporters stood around lighted candles which formed the word “equality” in 16-foot letters.
Nathan Bohman of Ogden attended the gathering wearing a blue shirt with an equality sign made out of yellow tape. His boyfriend, Andrew Singleton of Taylorsville, wore a matching shirt.
“I want equality. I want to be able to marry who I want to marry, when I want to marry him,” Bohman said.
Singleton said he has been encouraged by members of the LDS church who have spoken out against banning gay marriage in recent weeks.
“We might not have our rights now, but they’re definitely coming,” Singleton said.
Vigil organizer Patrick York called the passage of Proposition 8 a dark hour for America and said the candles are symbolic of a future that includes equal rights for everyone.
At the downtown rally, diversity trainer Dominique Storni told the crowd she was thankful The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had “wakened our sleeping giant. We finally have a civil rights movement equal to that of the ’50s and ’60s.”
As she listed other countries where same-sex marriage is legal, the crowd responded to each by chanting, “The sky did not fall, Chicken Little!”
Storni concluded: “The sky will not fall when marriage for gays is legalized in the United States of America.”
Speaker Elan Bartholomew, 17, of Salt Lake City said he became an activist because his mother and her partner cannot legally marry. “I’m still praying it will one day be possible to have a family that our government recognizes,” Bartholomew said.
Gayanne O’Neil of Salt Lake City, who held a sign proclaiming “Equality for All,” said she attended the rally to support what she characterized as “the civil rights movement of this time. All people have the right to equal protection under the law.”
Others carried signs declaring, “Love is a family value,” “Queer 4 Christ” and “No more Mr. Nice Gay.”
Cory Blackman of Salt Lake City held a rainbow flag. “I’m not hiding anymore,” said Blackman, who became openly gay about 7 years ago. “It’s finally time to stand up and have equal rights for everybody.”
Said rally co-organizer Rhonda Martinez, “The community is coming together. It might not be today or tomorrow, but eventually we’ll have equal rights.”
Tribune reporter Melinda Rogers contributed to this report.
Salt Lake Tribune Photo Gallery on Yesterday’s Rally and Vigil
New York Times – Across U.S., Big Rallies for Same-Sex Marriage
Los Angeles Tims – Prop. 8 opponents rally across California to protest gay-marriage ban
Washington Post – Calif. Gay Marriage Ban Spurs Protest Across U.S.