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.