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Measuring the Impact: DOMA Protests in the News

While the country readies itself for a new President, gay rights activists are spending less time fussing over what sort of network coverage Obama will get and more time taking to the streets, as they did over the weekend, to call on the president-elect to fulfill his campaign promise to repeal the Defense of Marriage act. But are the Join the Impact protests actually making an impact, or are they just making people feel good about themselves?

At least by one measure, you can call the continued, albeit smaller, protests an unqualified success: press coverage.

From big cities to small, the MSM has picked up on the story. And even if only a few hundred people showed up at most events, the coverage of the event is another opportunity for LGBT activists to make their case to the general public. As a blog, we’re painfully aware of the speed and forced immediacy of the modern news cycle and while equal rights issues are a big deal to Queerty readers, for most Americans, it’s out of sight, out of mind.

Here’s a round-up of mainstream coverage of the weekend’s events:

Seattle Times: Advocates of same-sex marriage pin hopes on Obama

“A Saturday protest that drew about 70 people to Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood focused on asking President-elect Obama to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which recognizes marriage as the union of a woman and a man…

Eli Steffen, an organizer from Queer Ally Coalition, called Saturday’s event a success even though organizers had expected 500 to 1,000 participants. He said the protest was peaceful.

“There was a lot of really positive chanting and cheering, and it was a really successful event,” he said…

Aaron Alhadeff, who lives in Seattle, came to the rally because he missed the protest in November and learned about Saturday’s event on Facebook and MySpace.

“If you have a sick relative or dying loved one, it would be great to have equality and make decisions regarding their health and finances,” he said. “People should know things are definitely changing with Obama. Hopefully, things will be turning around legalizing same-sex marriage.”

2News Boise: Gay rights activists hold rally in downtown Boise

“Gay rights supporters gathered on the steps of Boise’s City Hall to speak out against the Defense of Marriage Act.

The group is calling upon President-elect Barack Obama to repeal the act. Obama opposes gay marriage, but previously stated he would repeal the act during his campaign…

In 2006, Idahoans passed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage…

“They’re living in the past. It’s time that everybody in this country enjoyed equal rights,” said Pat Hughes, a gay rights activist.”

CBS-47 Fresno: Same-sex Marriage Rally in Fresno

“Demonstrators gathered at the Federal Courthouse in Downtown Fresno.

They are urging President Elect Barack Obama to overturn the defense of Marriage Act. The gay rights advocates said the law passed in 1996 which deprives them of their right to marry.

Across the country demonstrators collected signatures on Saturday. They wanted to get a million signatures to deliver to Obama, the day after he is sworn into office.”


San Diego Union-Tribune
: Gay-rights marchers protest federal law, rail against Prop. 8

“I’m deeply offended by people trying to repeal our being married,” said Barbara Keehr, a San Diego County employee who attended the march with her spouse, Colleen Hines, and their 4-year-old twin daughters. “It’s a slap in the face.”…

They were also among the 560 to 800 people – San Diego police and event organizers had different tallies – who attended the low-key march yesterday from the County Administration Building, down Harbor Drive, and back again.

Zakiya Khabir, a spokeswoman for the San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality, one of yesterday’s event organizers, said the passage of Proposition 8 hit a nerve and provoked an immediate backlash.

“I think this is a good turnout for something that is not in the wake of a devastating blow,” Khabir said. “DOMA is a 12-year-old piece of legislation that has been on the books for too long.”

WESH-2 Orlando: Gay Rights Activists Rally In Orlando

“Florida resident and well-known anti-gay activist, Anita Bryant, is often credited with kick starting the act.

A display depicting the history of Bryant’s efforts was shown in Orlando Saturday night as part of a protest against Amendment 2 in Florida and Amendment 8 in California.

“With all these things happening, we’re really living the same things that happened back in the 70s when Anita Bryant started all this rhetoric,” gay rights supporter Michael Vance.

Obama said during his 2008 election campaign that he would repeal the act.”

Contra Costa Times: Prop. 8 opponents protest at Pasadena City Hall

“I know it is the responsibility of the government to treat every American as equal under the law,” said Rev. Ricky Hoyt of Unitarian Universalist Church in Santa Clarita.

He was one of several speakers who approached a podium at the top of the steps and spoke to the crowd below, where protestors held signs that said, “protect all families,” and “Liberty and justice for all.”

Some carried rainbow flags, and one woman wore a wedding dress.

Brian Walsh and Erin Scott, a straight couple, came with their dog, who wore a sign that said “Hate Cats, Not Gays.”

“It just seems ridiculous that they could just exclude people from the institution of marriage,” Walsh said.”

Montgomery Advertiser: Students protest on Capitol steps

“Booker T. Washington Magnet High School student Daniel Davis, who organized the protest, said a “changing national culture” has caused many gays to put aside long-held fears and voice their concerns in public.

“More and more people are coming out,” said Davis, who said the Alabama pro­test was part of a national protest Saturday by gays to urge President-elect Barack Obama to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. “Society is just more open to us today.”

ABC 7 Chicago: Gay marriage protest in Chicago

“Groups demonstrated against the Defense of Marriage Act, also known as DOMA, which was signed by former Pres. Bill Clinton. Under the law, states that do not permit gay marriages do not have to recognize same sex marriages from states that allow them.

The protestors [sic] in Chicago marched in the downtown area and called on President-elect Barack Obama to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.”

Tallahassee Democrat: Gay and lesbian community rallies at Leon County courthouse

“Basically, the whole world wants to do something after this past election and the amendments,” said Isabelle Potts, who’s spearheading the creation of a new organization called Impact Tallahassee, a branch off a national group.

Organizers have been gathering supporters through Facebook. Many of them are young and students.

“All this is happening very quickly,” she said.

About 60 people participated, she said. They held up signs by Monroe Street and chanted “Gay, straight, black or white, marriage is a civil right.” Many motorists honked in support as they drove by.”

Did you attend a DOMA protest this weekend? Give us your own report in the comments.

By:           Japhy Grant
On:           Jan 12, 2009
Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,
  • 10 Comments
    • blake
      blake

      Maybe one day some one will protest for ENDA or the Matthew Shepard Act.

      Jan 12, 2009 at 10:14 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Losangelessur
      Losangelessur

      Good synopses!

      Jan 12, 2009 at 11:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Andrew Triska
      Andrew Triska

      The protest in Boston was freezing but pretty cool – Barney Frank showed up and we got free bagels.

      Jan 12, 2009 at 1:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Leland Frances
      Leland Frances

      To paraphrase Shakespeare: “a lot of noisy political children signifying nothing.”

      1. The only Americans who weren’t already aware of the issue of gay marriage would have to have been in a coma for the past decade.

      2. The focus itself is retarded by nature of its narrow focus. The cry should be for “CONGRESS and Obama to repeal DOMA” because it’s a federal LAW not simply a policy and he can’t do anything [besides advocate for change] until Congress does.

      3. While it wouldn’t hurt, how much repeal of the FEDERAL version of DOMA would help is relative. All but a handful of states have their own version of DOMA, therefore only those couples who live in Massachusetts or those few states with civil union/domestic partnership laws could hope that the federal government minus DOMA would then, for instance, recognize their joint income task returns. It would also open the way for the POSSIBILITY of the foreign born partner of a gay American citizen becoming a citizen, but again, only relative to those few states that have some kind of legal recognition. But, hey, children, and that’s EXACTLY the mentality driving the Impact clown car, are not ones for nuance and facts.

      4. The saddest part of your commmentary shares the core self-delusion of Amy Impact and her homo homeys: that media attention = change. It CAN but NOT in 10-second sound bites. The repetitiveness of these same-old, same-old tired approaches to change long ago began to fall on the proverbial deaf ears; as annoying as the endless “better do somethin’ cause yer TV is gonna die in February” PSAs.

      5. When will someone uncover how much these people are being paid by the Right Wing to distract gays from actually ACTing UP?

      Jan 12, 2009 at 1:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • WeTheSheeple
      WeTheSheeple

      While I may not be as snarky as the previous commentor, I must agree that the appropriate place to put pressure in on Congress. If anything, the various nations gay organizations should put emphasis on educating the gay (and straight supportive) community on how laws are made & how the court system works.

      Jan 12, 2009 at 7:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DCDavis769
      DCDavis769

      The Montgomery Advertiser totally misrepresented us, even if I was pleased with the press coverage we got. We had about 60-70 people there who were of many ages and sexual orientations, but, according to the Advertiser, it was a crowd of “dozens of gay students.”

      I was, however, just happy to have any form of visibility in Montgomery, AL.

      — Daniel C. Davis

      Jan 12, 2009 at 9:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian Miller
      Brian Miller

      @WeTheSheeple:

      I must agree that the appropriate place to put pressure in on Congress

      Which would involve an ultimatum, with a deadline attached, to the Democrats (who run Congress) — along with Obama, who would have to receive a separate ultimatum to sign whatever bill Congress passes.

      Which will NEVER happen, because when push comes to shove, Democrats punch the queer community in the stomach, stomps on their face as they fall to the ground and says “shut the fuck up, FAGGOT!”

      And the queer community gets up, brushes itself off, whimpers “well we don’t want to see the Republicans get in power, may I have another sir,” and promptly sends hundreds of millions of dollars and millions of votes to the Democrats.

      We’re their patsies, and it’s never going to change. Too many of us value political power and a lefty agenda over our own basic dignity.

      Jan 13, 2009 at 12:03 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • HYHYBT
      HYHYBT

      @Leland Frances: You imply that it isn’t just the federal DOMA that allows states to disregard out-of-state marriages.

      Jan 13, 2009 at 3:07 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shannon, Sacramento, CA
      Shannon, Sacramento, CA

      @blake: To respond to Blake [Comment #1], yes, I would love to get out in the streets for ENDA / the Matthew Shepard Act. I think that people should at least be in the streets in Tennessee right about now, after a man was just fired for being gay and his boss blatantly confirmed that that was the reason. It’s completely legal in TN since they have no law protecting sexuality from workplace discrimination. This is yet another reminder of why we need ENDA.

      Also, to Brian Miller [Comment #7], who wrote, “We’re their patsies, and it’s never going to change. Too many of us value political power and a lefty agenda over our own basic dignity.” I’ll be right there with you! Let’s get something done.

      Jan 13, 2009 at 6:06 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Buck
      Buck

      @Leland Frances: So Leland. what are you doing? Are you spending five days a week in the halls of Congress knocking on doors and getting Senators and Congressmen to listen and vote positively on our issues?Spending all day telling people who are at least trying to do something how “retarded” they are?

      What disgusts me? Armchair activists who engage in intellectual masturbation instead of actually getting off their duffs and doing something.

      Jan 13, 2009 at 9:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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