By Devin Dunlevy
City News Reporter

On Nov. 7, over 15,000 supporters of same-sex marriage spilled onto the streets of San Francisco.

The crowd gathered to march against Proposition 8, which added to the California Constitution the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. This vote overturned California’s status as one of three states that legally recognize same-sex marriage.

Refusing to concede defeat, demonstrators first rallied at City Hall. Some boasted signs saying “No More Mr. Nice Gay” and “Has History Taught Us Nothing?”

Organizers hoped to raise spirits after 18,000 newlywed same-sex couples were thrown into legal limbo by the constitutional amendment, which thwarted the marriage rights given to them by the California Supreme Court last May.

“People should have the same rights,” said protester Susie Pacheco, as she hurried to catch up with the march headed toward Dolores Park. “My boyfriend and I have been together for nine years, but we won’t get married until everyone has the same rights we do.”

One of Proposition 8’s biggest backers has been the Church of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), also commonly referred to as the Mormon Church, which has subsequently faced criticism after encouraging its members to vote for the same-sex marriage ban.

LDS members are responsible for funneling over $22 million into the Yes on 8 campaign — a huge chunk of the campaign’s nearly $36 million war chest. Critics charge that this made it possible for the ballot initiative to garner the 500,000 votes with which it won.

The Yes on 8 campaign also received criticism for its advertising campaign, including the claim that same-sex marriage would lead to teaching about homosexuality in schools.

“The fact that a group can put so much money into deceitful ads is un-American and wrong,” said San Francisco resident Chris Marco.

Marco, who attended the demonstrations, carried a sign that read, “People who follow the teachings of a child rapist shouldn’t try to dictate morality for the rest of us.”

Rod Middleton, a gay ex-Mormon, participated in the demonstration, but defended his former church.

“After I stopped being Mormon, I still found myself standing up for the faith,” Middleton said. “Yeah, the theology is nutty … but so is every other religion.”

Still, Middleton said that the church made the wrong decision.

“[Proposition 8] is completely subverting what the constitution is about,” Middleton said. “Mormons, of all people, should understand that.”

After reaching Dolores Park, the masses paused to regain strength before organizers decided to send the march back to the Civic Center for another rally.

“What do we want? Equal rights! When do we want them? Now!” the marchers chanted, as they occupied both lanes of traffic coming back down Market Street.

Since the passing of Proposition 8, a number of other protests have been taking place throughout California in cities like Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Palm Springs, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego and Long Beach. A crowd of over 3,000 protesters swarmed the LDS headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, the same night as the march in San Francisco.

In addition to the mass demonstrations, legal activists are challenging the measure in court. Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Bar Association of San Francisco contest that such a drastic change requires a constitutional revision, which would need a two-thirds majority vote of both houses of the California State Legislature.

The California Supreme Court may be forced to rule soon — this time on whether or not Proposition 8 skipped the necessary legislative approval.

UC Santa Cruz first-year student Greg Dreisen marched in San Francisco. While angry at the result of Proposition 8, he is optimistic that same-sex marriage will be legally recognized again.

“Homosexuals and their allies will rise above, and defeat these incredible religious monetary donations,” Dreisen said. “We will continue to demonstrate our anger until equality is restored, and America realizes that marriage is a civil rights issue, and nothing more.”