‘The Second Stonewall’: Five Days of Protest in California

Photo: Jonathan Alcorn
Photo: Jonathan Alcorn

In what more than one protester has described as “the second Stonewall”, Californians across the state have taken to the streets in spontaneous demonstrations to protest the passage of Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling in May that allowed it. Here’s a brief rundown of the past five days:

Day One (Nov. 5th):

While the rest of the world celebrated the election of Barack Obama, opponents of Proposition 8 gathered in gay enclaves like West Hollywood and San Francisco to hold impromptu rallies. In Los Angeles, a group of approximately 1,500 people, mostly younger, left the rally while it was still ongoing and marched up to Sunset Boulevard, forcing street closures. Police managed to divide the group, keeping 2/3 within West Hollywood.

The remaining group marched to the CNN building in Hollywood and then up to Hollywood & Highland, L.A.’s version of Times Square, where police barricading the group from entering the intersection. A tense standoff ensued, with some protesters breaking through the police lines and two being beaten by the police with billy clubs.

In all, four separate groups, about 3,000 people total, marched throughout Hollywood, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood throughout the night, with protesters holding a sit down protest at Sunset and La Cienega til 2:30am. Seven people were arrested.

Day Two (Nov. 6th)

Protesters march on the Mormon Temple in Westwood at around 2pm at the LDS Temple in Westwood (the church having donated almost 1/2 of the money raised by the Yes on 8 campaign) and moved throughout the west side of L.A., prompting the LAPD to close streets and one exit of the 405. At one point, the LAPD tried to to corral protesters back into West Hollywood, only to have the crowd reverse on them en masse at the corner of Santa Monica and Wilshire and head back to the Mormon temple. Traffic throughout the area was at a standstill most of the night.

While the protest was mostly peaceful, KCAL 9 reported that one woman, Jaime Meriwether, and her four friends were beaten by “Yes on 8” protesters and they showed footage of Mormons tearing down protest signs that had been placed on the fence of the temple. The Daily News reported that Maurice Carriere, a demonstrator, was punched in the face by a man in a pickup truck with a “Yes on 8” sign. Photos of Carriere and his attacker below, sent to us by flickr user takemytaco. Two people were arrested and another two were hospitalized.

Day Three (Nov. 7th)

The focus shifted to nearby Long Beach as 2000 protesters took to the streets. In what was becoming a trend, the protest refused to stay where police asked them to and the group marched onto Broadway, heading west for two miles before overtaking an intersection.  A spokesman for the LBPD told the L.A. Times that the force“were so outnumbered, we were concerned for their safety”. Seven arrests were made.

Day Four (Nov. 8th)

In the biggest day of protests yet, crowds across the state turned out in huge numbers. “Thousands” of people in San Francisco marched on Market Street, blocking traffic for a couple hours, but it was in Southern California where the largest and longest protests occurred. In San Diego an estimated 10,000 people took to the streets at noon for a 90 minute long protest with no arrests. In Los Angeles, 12,000 people turned out in Silver Lake to rally and march in a protest initially organized by anti-war group ANSWER L.A.

As the rally organizers and police encouraged people to go home, spontaneous activists took to bullhorns yelling “We didn’t come here to party! We need to make them see us!” and called for the protest to move to Hollywood and Highland. The police formed a barricade, preventing approximately 2000 people from moving up Sunset. As the crowd grew in size and became angrier, the police relented and retreated. Protesters marched up the street, through stalled traffic in jubilant celebration. After negotiating with police, who coordinated with the Department of Transportation, the protesters were allowed to march from Silver Lake to Hollywood and Highland.

Along the way, others joined the group, which swelled to approximately 4000. The group overtook the intersection for 45 minutes, before police moved them south. The crowd then continued along Sunset Boulevard and the Sunset Strip, arriving around 1:30 am. The crowd finally reached West Hollywood at 2pm, where it sat down blocking the intersection of San Vicente and Santa Monica while one of the marchers, Drew Barrymore, spoke.

Day Five (Nov.9th)

On the first Sunday since Prop. 8’s passage, protesters took to places of worship to make their voice heard. Nearly 300 protesters showed up outside the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest. A protest in Oakland on the Mormon Temple forced police to close a nearby highway. Protesters also showed up outside the Mormon Temple in Los Angeles, the state capitol in Sacremento and at the DVD premiere of Kung Fu Panda at Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

Protests continue to be planned and have spread to cities across the country.

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  • fredo777

    We should have had this kind of organization + passion beforehand.

    Damnit. Beautiful sight, though, I’ll admit.

  • jack

    its easy to “should” on the current efforts. better to save it for the coffee table convos, and focus our energy on doing something constructive, like hit the streets. large numbers are newsworthy.

    don’t be surprised when blood is spilled. it is going to happen, and it is the cost of revolt.

    i remember the 60’s. learn from the old-timers.


  • tallskin

    FANTASTIC! Good on you guys, keep up the pressure

    I wish I were over your side of the pond, cos I miss the smell of cordite, the sound of yelling, whistles and angry queens!

  • Kyler

    We need to bring some of theses protest to the Washington DC Metropolitan Area!! This is very inspiring!

  • Lieven

    Hey, coming from Belgium (where we have gay marriage), comes our unconditional support. Don’t let down! Keep protesting! Change will come in California too. We are totally behind your fight, because it is still our fight too. Discrimination is wrong; we need education and the understanding that marriage is a civil issue, not religion. Love.

  • Anarchos

    For those of you in New York, there is a planned demonstration at the Mormon Temple in Manhattan at Columbus & 65th, this Wednesday from 630 to 8. Let’s show our brothers and sisters in California the support they deserve and tell the Mormon Church it’s NOT okay for them to get involved in political and legislative matters.

  • technicolornina

    I smell change.

  • Qjersey

    Well it is clear that it is time for another March on Washington, it has been 8 years! and we have to hold Hopbama accoutable to our communities.

    “The Million March for Marriage” Spring 2009

    okay HRC and NGLTF, get on it NOW

  • Paul Raposo


    When LGBTQ’s throw a protest, its peaceful: No looting; no assaulting bystanders; no assaults on the police; and no property damage.

    When everyone else throws a protest, it absolute mayhem.

    And we’re the people that America needs protecting from?

  • The Gay Numbers

    Paul perhaps that’s why we are the last to get our rights. I am not advocating real discord. I am just pointing out that it took the image of a Malcolm X to give me the sense that things got to change and go with the much safer Martin Luther King. Perhaps we need an Act Up again that is not civil to let everyone know that there is something we have at stake here?

  • Jesse

    Please write to your senators, and representatives asking for a full repeal of DOMA, the defense of marriage act. Even if all 50 states adopt equal marriage, those marriages can never be recognized an a federal level while DOMA is in place.

  • fredo777


    “don’t be surprised when blood is spilled”

    We have to be very wise with the word choices we make around here, considering the fact that we already know a lot of the righties troll these boards (+ this one, specifically) for quotes that build their case for how “dangerous” + “intolerant” we are.

    Let’s not give them any more ammo, even if it’s just in the form of a statement that can be taken as a threat against our opposition.

  • Trenton

    There was a protest outside of the LDS church in downtown Seattle, but only 50 or so people showed. I hope we can start to match these numbers even in a small measure, because this IS a national fight (have we already forgotten that Prop 2 also passed?).

  • mark

    re-name Sundance Film Festival…this year

    Make it “Sundance in EXILE Film Festival”, this makes it clear to Utah that their actions caused this move THIS year, and if they leave LGBT people’s Human Rights alone, the festival will return.
    I would argue HOW FESTIVE is a film festival when one group is made to feel EXCLUDED?

  • Kyler

    @Trenton: I agree, the emphasis needs to be national, rights for GLBTQ in CA is great but national protests are needed because we as a community need to demand rights all over. We don’t even have acceptable hate crime legislation on the books. NATIONAL FIGHT, NATIONAL PROTESTS, NATIONAL RIGHTS!

  • conrad

    equating these gay marriage protests with stonewall has to be the most atrocious mis-representation and deluding of historically significant protest in contemporary queer politics.

    stonewall was a fucking riot for self determination! gay marriage is some assimilationist bullshit. the queers and trannies of color that fought the cops in the 60’s are surely rolling in their graves at such awful comparisons…

  • DairyQueen

    UMmm I guess nothing happen in the rest of the State? What about Sacramento? We have had rallies with good size number (1000 +) since Wednesday. Yesterday we 11/09 we had a crowd of over 4000. If you are going to give a run down of rallies in CA, don’t forget the non mega gayvilles. There were little protest in tiny towns all over this weekend. That should be the real stories. Brave people are standing up in these small communities.

  • Jon B

    Hey everyone,

    Just wanted to mention this, there is a country-wide protest being planned for Saturday, November 15th. The protests are being planned in every major city across the country, you can find information about your city, or the city closest to you here: http://www.jointheimpact.com/. We really need to keep the motivation going. Let’s get creative and move this wave forward!

  • fredo777

    As a gay black man, I’m not a fan of the “gay is the new black” phrase.

  • seitan-on-a-stick

    Kind or “Ironic” I know! At least you could wear it without “White Guilt”…


    Viva La Stonewall West (Day 6!)

  • StraightGuyHere

    I am a pretty conservative guy on most issues, and am heterosexual. One area where I’m more liberal is gay rights. I think gays get treated miserably, and I’d love to see that change. Marriage, right to adopt, real equality – you guys deserve it all. But I’ve gotta tell you: the N-word vitriol, the ugly, ugly things you’re saying about Catholic and Mormons, it’s all working against you in a very big way. Please stop. You’re setting your movement back decades with this madness. I hope you turn it around.

  • David JF


    Find information, locations by state and city, and help organize at:

    Be patient, server has been overwhelmed by site visitors and will be upgraded ASAP.

  • logan767

    we need to DEMAND our rights. no more second-class citizenship. but also, no fighting hate with hate. let’s just get out there and stand up for the truth: gay rights are equal rights.

  • ABC

    We must keep our eye on the bigger picture though, and make sure these demonstrations do not turn into a huge PR fiasco… At first I was hoping the courts would overturn this vote, and I do believe it would be right to do so. But we just elected a president who said he supported equal civil unions on a federal level, and congress might be progressive enough now to follow through. Going against the “will of the people” in CA might make acquiring federal civil unions (even if they remain separate but equal) harder. Prop 8 will be repealed one day – perhaps we should wait until federal rights are secured first though. I mean, gay marriage would have come to CA eventually if we had not pushed it through the courts. We needed to wait until a democratic governor was elected, which was bound to happen. Now the constitution has been changed, and the fight got more difficult. We must pick our battles wisely and not try to go too fast. A constitutional amendment on the federal level is the real danger. Just my 2 cents…

  • Phoenix (Rainbow Warrior With His Picket Sign In Hand)

    @ FREDO777

    This has a similar theme to the “Gay is the new Black”. We’ll probably be seeing it on t-shirts soon.

  • Paul

    I completely agree with StraightGuyHere’s comments. We might be a sizable group in major metro areas, but in much of the country, we’re a tiny minority. We can’t do this on our own; we need straight allies that agree: No matter how you feel about marriage, we can all agree that discrimination is wrong.

    We’re a strong, smart group of individuals, and we need to gain the public’s goodwill on this. Fighting back with hate and violence will only turn a majority of Americans against us.

  • Crash2Parties

    Might I remind everyone that is picketing and boycotting Utah and the LDS that it was the Catholic San Francisco Arch Bishop who, back in June just a few weeks after the previous proposition was overturned, who called up his friends in Utah to organize the unholy alliance. If you want to do something, protest the Catholics too.

  • TheGt

    This is a consequence of the gay community being apathetic toward these issues. It think we became too comfortable with believing change would “just happen” as a trend. We are forgetting the actual ACTION it took from the gay community of past generations to pave the liberties we have today. Prop 8 passing was probably the best thing that could have happened to the gay community in retrospect.

  • Lauren Glover

    What you all have done in California is simply amazing. Congratulations on the organizing thus far and good luck in your future protests. I hope you are able to succeed and wish that i could be there.

  • Lee Wind

    Yeah, it would have been amazing to see so many people take to the streets BEFORE the vote… But I guess that’s how movements flare up – once you’ve been slapped down, you get up (like some kick-ass kickboxer) and get ready to bring it on…


  • FAG H8R

    WOW! The state has spoken… They said they don’t agree with the GAY agenda you are trying to push on the rest of the state… so SUCK ON THAT!

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