Thousands Gather at Boston City Hall, Protest California’s Gay Marriage Ban

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Protestors hold signs at the Join the Impact rally on Saturday outside Boston City Hall. The rally was a part of a national protest against the passage of Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage in California.
Ramya Sankar—The Tech

CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE: The Nov. 18 article “Thousands Gather at Boston City Hall, Protest California’s Gay Marriage Ban” incorrectly identified two politicians, Edward J. Markey and Nikki Tsongas, as “state Congress members.” Both are members of the U.S. House of Representatives; Markey is from the 7th District of Massachusetts and Tsongas is from the 5th.

Thousands of people gathered at Boston City Hall on Saturday to rally against the passage of Proposition 8, the recent ban on same-sex marriage in California.

The roughly 4,000 attendants stood in the rain, many holding signs and banners with slogans like “Stop the H8” and “Equal Rights for All.”

Through the afternoon people shouted chants like, “Gay, straight, black, white, marriage is a civil right,” and listened to speakers who included state Congress members Edward J. Markey and Nikki Tsongas and U.S. Congressman Michael E. Capuano.

Some of the attendants were gay couples who had gotten married in Massachusetts, now the only state other than Connecticut to allow gay marriage.

MIT students participated in the event in a variety of capacities.

MIT graduate student Lisa F. Marshall was one of the organizers of the event. She said she wanted the event to be a “call to action.”

The protest was one of about 150 rallies held around the country that day, all organized by Join the Impact, a national movement that started in Seattle soon after the proposition passed.

MIT graduate student Alessondra Springmann attended the rally with 14 other residents and friends of the living group pika.

Springmann said she came to the rally because “it’s about rights. If you don’t do anything your rights could be next in line.”

She said that during election season she had volunteered as a caller with Mass Equality to persuade voters to vote against the proposition that put the same-sex marriage ban in place. “It was frustrating to hear people say Proposition 8 wouldn’t pass and so they didn’t feel it was necessary to do anything to ensure it didn’t pass,” Springmann said.

MIT alumna Cassandra Roth ’07 volunteered for the rally by helping to get petitions signed for a transgender equality bill. She said of the rally: “I hope people remember the energy and carry it back to their families and community and share it with them.”

One of the speakers, special education teacher Heather Baker had gotten married the first day it was legalized in Massachusetts. She told the crowd that she is the only openly gay teacher at her school. “I am proud to be that role model for our children,” she said.

Gunner Scott, director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, urged the audience to help pass a bill that would add gender identity to Massachusetts’ nondiscriminatory statutes.

Abigail M. Francis, director of LGBT@MIT, also attended the rally. “It was very inspirational,” she said. “A lot of students came with skepticism as to what the point of protesting would be, but it was a very powerful statement to see everyone there.”

Before the event began, three men walked around with anti-gay signs. Overall, the protest was peaceful.