Seattle March for Equality a huge success - Stonewall 2.0
|Seattle March for Equality a huge success - Stonewall 2.0|
by Mike Andrew -
SGN Contributing Writer
An estimated 10,000 people in Seattle joined one million others across the country to march for marriage equality in nationally coordinated actions Saturday, November 15. Several hundred more turned out in smaller Washington cities.
Seattle's marchers gathered under sunny skies in Volunteer Park and marched to Westlake Plaza for a concluding rally. Like others in other cities, they were motivated by anger over California's vote in favor of Prop 8, canceling same-sex marriage rights in that state, and determination to achieve equal recognition for LGBT relationships.
"This is the beginning of the civil-rights movement of the 21st century," Seattle march organizer Kyler Powell said.
It was a theme echoed by King County Executive Ron Sims. In a fiery speech calling to mind his background as a Baptist minister, Sims referred back to the struggle for racial equality waged by his parents in Spokane. "Nobody told me the road would be easy," Sims said. "Are you tired? I am not!"
"If you are going to talk about immortality," Sims continued, "talk about hunger. That is immoral! Talk about war. That is immoral! But don't tell me when two people love each other that's immoral. That is right!"
State Senator Ed Murray (D-43), himself openly Gay and in a long-term relationship, called for a march on the state legislature in Olympia. "The challenge is to march by the thousands not just here, but in Olympia. Are you willing to do that?" Murray asked.
Murray also announced that he would re-introduce marriage equality legislation, as he has done in every legislative session. "Are you willing to doorbell in suburbia and rural Washington, and seek the friendship of African-American evangelicals and Catholics and Mormons? If you are willing to do that, you will achieve equality."
In Bellingham, 350 people marched from City Hall to the Bellingham Farmers Market three blocks away. "I was amazed at how many people showed up," said organizer Blanche Bybee.
"From an organizer's standpoint, the wonderful thing about the event was how many people stepped up to the plate to help," she added. "A freshman at the WWU created a Facebook page for the event that got over 1,300 invites [the page didn't get made until Wednesday night]. As soon as I posted the location on the JointheImpact website, offers of help started coming in."
In Olympia, about 300 people attended a rally at City Hall, near the Japanese Gardens. "What struck me was the number of people who showed up who were not the regulars that always show up at LGBT events," said Alec Clayton, who organized the rally along with Anna Schlecht. In contrast to the young activists who led the actions in many cities, Clayton and Schlecht are veteran activists - Clayton the long-time president of Olympia's PFLAG chapter, and Schlecht a community organizer.
Among the speakers featured at the Olympia rally was Brian Felver, a member of Stonewall Youth, who attended with both of his partners, and spoke about being in a non-traditional family unit which also needed recognition.
In Spokane, 200 people attended a rally at Spokane City Hall. "I was thrilled with the way the protest turned out," said Taylor Malone, an Eastern Washington University student. Malone, 19, plans to marry in June.
"I was moved to see how many people took the time out of their day - it wound up being over two hours long - to stand in the cold and show America that this is about the equality our founding fathers claimed was an inherent right, not personal morals or religious beliefs," Malone said in an e-mail to SGN.
Activists in Vancouver, Washington, decided to rally with banners and signs across from the Vancouver Main Library and adjacent to the I-5 on ramps. About 40 people participated including "several families with young children and teens," according to Jeannine Shingler, who led the organizing there.
"I am a straight 53 year old and I would say our group was pretty evenly divided between straight and Gay," Shingler told SGN. "I find this a hopeful sign that should send a message to others that this is not just a Gay issue but a human rights issue."
The National Day of Action was the creation of two young Seattle activists. Amy Balliet, 26, got the idea for nationally coordinated protest actions after reading a friend's blog post about the victory of Prop 8 in California. She created the website JoinTheImpact.com, which served as the spark for national actions. Balliet was joined by the 21 year-old Powell, who envisioned a march through Capitol Hill to downtown and took the lead in organizing the Seattle action.