The crowd gathered on the Monroe County Courthouse lawn for two hours on Saturday afternoon to protest California’s recently passed Proposition 8, the amendment to California’s constitution that eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry.
“A ban that was passed there affects all of us,” said sophomore Danielle Treece.
Despite the temperature hovering at about 40 degrees and rain that fell until the early afternoon, activists yelled chants led by event organizer Evan McMahon. They raised homemade signs with mantras that ranged from “100% Taxpayer 50% Citizen” to “Jesus said some are born gay, Matthew 19: 10-12.”
McMahon said even though the amendment had been passed by California voters, it was far from finalized.
“It’s going to go to court. It’s going to be fought,” he said.
The demonstration was one of about 300 around the country, according to the Web site of the organization responsible, www.jointheimpact.com.
McMahon said he hoped demonstrations, like the one in Bloomington, would raise awareness of how hateful the amendment is and make it easier for politicians to stand up against it.
On a more local level, he said he also hoped the protest would demonstrate to Bloomington that it has members of the GLBT community working and loving among them.
McMahon said he thought two church groups were supposed to show up to counter-protest, but neither did.
Although the protesters were rallying around the political injustice of the amendment, their reasons for joining the group were also ideological, personal and religious.
Bloomington resident Courtney Miller did not know in advance about the protest, but saw it as she was driving by with her 13-year-old daughter.
“My dad is gay, so we stopped,” she said.
Miller said she hoped the protest would be a step toward her father being able to get married.
Bloomington resident Bobbi Blackmore – who held a sign that read “Did you cast a ballot or a stone?” – said she believed the amendment was passed because of religious views and a lack of understanding about the separation of church and state.
“The Constitution is not supposed to be a blueprint of religious beliefs,” she said.
But besides that, she said, passage of anti-gay-marriage amendments is symptomatic of wrongheaded Christian beliefs.
“Jesus never hated anyone,” she said.
The crowd was consistently met with honking from motorists – to which the crowd cheered back and raised its signs – but due to the bad weather, people were fairly sparse downtown during the protest.
Spectator and Bloomington resident Joe Gee said he fully supported the cause of the protesters.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” he said. “I don’t see anything wrong with it whatsoever.”
McMahon said the protest was a success. He was initially scared no one would come out because of the morning’s brooding weather, but the turnout had exceeded his expectations. He said divine intervention might have been possible.
“I honestly didn’t think people were going to show up,” he said. “I said, ‘Please God, if you love us, make the rain stop.’ And it stopped, so God loves us.”
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