Children shyly approached the microphones adorned with rainbow scarves and talked about how much they loved their parents and how much it hurt to see rights denied to them. One woman grasped her chest saying, “It felt like the day Harvey [Milk] was killed. I just felt this stabbing pain in my heart.”
The California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Proposition 8, which amends the state constitution to only recognize marriages between a man and a woman, incited solid unity and intense emotions among Santa Cruz residents.The Equality Action Project of Santa Cruz County organized a protest at the Santa Cruz clock tower on Water Street for people to express the outrage and pain caused by the court’s 6-1 ruling.
At 5 p.m., the event’s set beginning time, the turnout seemed bleak with about 50 attendees. Thirty minutes later, the crowd doubled to about 100 people who filled the clocktower square and spilled onto Knight Street.
“This is a long struggle,” said Labris Willendorf, an organizer with the Equality Action Project. “We lost this battle, but we will win.”
First-year College Eight student Lanie Lien stood on the side of the street holding a sign that read, “1,138 rights denied,” which referred to the social benefits that come with a legally recognized marriage.
“We still have to fight for basic rights,” said Lien, an environmental studies major. “Marriage is a basic right that allows people to have social security benefits, medical benefits, and housing benefits. It’s appalling that the California Supreme Court rescinded their decision.”
Leaders in Santa Cruz’s faith communities, including many rabbis and reverends, spoke in support of marriage equality. In his speech, Kyle Lovett, the Interim Associate Minister of First Congregational Church of Santa Cruz, rallied the disappointed.
“We still lead, we still follow, and we still know the truth — that we are right,” he said. “Justice will prevail.”
The Equality Action Project will hold a community meeting on June 23 at 7 p.m. at the Live Oak Grange Hall, 1900 17th Avenue.