Join the Impact Oakland

15 Nov


This morning, after some bus mishaps (omg, I can’t wait for BRT!), my girlfriend and I arrived in front of Oakland City Hall for the Join the Impact rally for equal rights. It was a beautiful sunny day, and it was great to see thousands of advocates gathered in Frank Ogawa Plaza.

join-the-impact-367The crowd was incredibly diverse – filled with people of every age, gender, race, and sexual orientation. And there were so many families – kids everywhere! It was great to run into so many people I know and to see so many others I’d never met before. Serendipitously, one of the first people I ran into was Matthew, my precinct walking partner on election day. We formed a special bond that day, a bond that can only be formed by going door to door in a hilly precinct where most doors were up several flights of stairs. It was so great to see that the election results hadn’t gotten him down too much and that he was still working towards marriage equality.

Several LGBT leaders gave moving speeches throughout the day, but the star of the show was Coby, a boy join-the-impact-355whose parents started an LGBT family coalition. He started off saying that for many years he didn’t know that there were people who didn’t approve of his parents’ union. He didn’t realize that his family was different from others because, well, they’re his family. Coby went on to explain that when he heard kids at his school make fun of gay people, he thought it was because they didn’t understand what it meant to be gay. His mothers then made an effort to educate the students at his school, and ultimately, he thought that kids understood this issue more than many adults and should have more say in our society.

join-the-impact-436After him and his mother spoke, the rally organizer introduced Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland Council Member-elect who is the first out lesbian to be elected to the city council. She talked about how strange election night was, and her story closely mirrored my own election night emotional roller coaster ride. At 8:00pm, Rebecca found out that Obama had been elected president, and shortly after that she found out that she had won her council seat with 62% of the vote. So for the next three hours, she celebrated, joining hundreds of people spontaneously partying in the streets of downtown Oakland. But then she started to face the fact that Prop 8 was going to pass. Rebecca spent the next day crying, wondering at the irony that she was just elected to the council but was also stripped of her human rights. She ended her speech by saying that this fight for equality is not about fighting against faith. After all, her own faith tells her not to eat pork, but she’s not forcing that rule onto others. After speaking, she lifted her shofar (a ram’s horn) and blew loudly, as the crowd erupted into cheers.

join-the-impact-442Sean Sullivan, who ran for an Oakland City Council seat in June and who currently is the development director for Equality California, was up next. He started off talking about the myth that has been spread around that Prop 8 was about blacks vs whites. Sean reminded us that Fox News had started spreading this myth, but that it is not the case. All you had to do was look around the diverse crowd in Oakland this morning to see how right he was about this. Sean then delved into the history of this fight, explaining that Equality California has been working for years to secure the right for same-sex couples to marry. He  said that the fight is not over – they’re currently taking this fight to the California Supreme Court and preparing to put an initiative on the ballot in 2010. Sean implored all of us to join this fight because it won’t be an easy one – we’ll need everyone who cares working hard to help make marriage equality a reality.

It was a very inspiring day for me and helped bring some amount of closure to the mixed emotions I’ve been feeling since election night. After seeing such energy in Oakland, and reading about incredible rallies throughout the country, I feel confident that we will overturn Proposition 8 and restore equality in California and beyond.

My girlfriend and I took hundreds of photos, but here are some of my favorites:






For a bunch more incredible photos of the Oakland Join the Impact rally, check out The Inadvertent Gardener’s Flickr page.

9 Responses to “Join the Impact Oakland”

  1. Mary November 15, 2008 at 6:39 pm #

    Flickr’s got a whole pool for events from around the country, searching for “Oakland” there gets you these: (including mine)

  2. Becks November 15, 2008 at 6:43 pm #

    Mary – your link unfortunately does not work, but I’d love to check out your photos.

  3. wins November 15, 2008 at 8:19 pm #

    In ways i think the protest in Oakland is more important than the San Francisco one, in that it really push that whole “black votes yes” which i don’t believe is accurate. (I think it’s the old votes, as Dan Savage said.)

  4. inadvertentgardener November 16, 2008 at 12:24 am #

    Wow — you guys had even better access than I did! Awesome. Love the pics — love the post. Fists raised, people. Fists raised.

  5. johnbisceglia November 16, 2008 at 1:50 am #

    The U.S. government crossed a VERY serious line with PROP 8.

    This “proposition” threatened children’s sense of safety and belongingness in California. Children’s safety.

    Regardless of THIS particular fight, there are way too many fights on way too many fronts for us to conquer piecemeal. The Time is Now – DRAW A NEW LINE in the sand and demand from President Obama and our representatives FULL EQUALITY.

    Equality Is Simple When You Simply Include Everybody.

    What? Not detailed enough for the lawyers?

    OK, we can list repealing DOMA, repealing DADT, include transgender in the ENDA Bill, allow adoption of abandoned children, equality in immigration issues, recognize our hate crimes as such, equal family/children rights……….whew! See what I mean?

    We are EQUAL SOULS in HUMAN BODIES. Could we please STOP discriminating due to the genitalia attached? Plumbing will determine each civil right?! Any separation from the pack is ultimately due to gender (and/or gender roles & stereotyping), and that is SEXISM. I cannot marry Bob because I am the “wrong” gender; if I were a woman I could marry Bob. SEXISM.

    And I cannot stress ENOUGH how my own suffering from Marriage Inequality is NOT the reason for wanting or needing equality. I am not something to focus on. But my story, and the stories of countless other Americans desperately need to be addressed in this civil rights struggle. Marriage laws were put in place many years ago in order to PROTECT individuals and their FAMILIES; if they were NOT necessary they would not exist (for heterosexuals). When these laws are NOT in place for ALL OF US, horrible, horrible suffering occurs. My WEBSITE has many examples.

    So Americans want to continue denying us what they have already deemed as essential. And many people want us to WAIT…2….5……10…….20……..30 YEARS, depending on the “civil right”, for what WAS and IS our birthright.

    I personally have a HUGE problem with that. I cannot wait. I will not wait.

    Will you join me on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009, and help me inform the government that WE are eager to be included in the federal tax base as soon as THEY include us in society’s laws? My 5-year-old students could understand this concept: EQUAL = EQUAL

    As Americans can’t we agree that there are MANY other important issues to address (like the Economy, Education, Health Care, Poverty & Homelessness, Iraq/Afghanistan…all of these are related), and solving THOSE problems is more urgent than having “Equality Issues” TIE UP THE COURTS for another 30+ years? We will NOT go away.

    You keep procreating; we keep popping out. Sorry.

    Our representatives have spent years inventing 4-letter words (DOMA, DADT) to restrict us, deny us, demoralize us, and harm our beloved families and children. Enough is enough.


    The National Equality Tax Protest
    – Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 –

  6. Leah Hess November 16, 2008 at 5:54 pm #

    Re: Attempts to place the “blame” for the (temporary) loss of marriage equality

    I attended the rally in Oakland on November 15 where the speeches and performances were moving, focused, and extremely positive. However, at the conclusion of one otherwise stirring speech which emphasized the importance of resisting any temptation to direct our frustration against other groups, the speaker fell into the same trap herself. Pointing out that voters aged eighteen to thirty voted overwhelmingly against Proposition 8, while those over sixty voted for it, she declared that “we” will win because “they” will die.

    There are a number of reasons why such logic is divisive and counter-productive.

    First, of course, the “demographic” referred to is inaccurate. It lumps four decades of diverse humanity into a single group, “the old”. That is equivalent to lumping all voters age eighteen to sixty into a single group, “the young”. The categorization of all persons over sixty as a single group is meaningless. It lumps me (age 64) and my mother (84) into the same demographic age category.

    The view also subscribes to a false premise, the idea of the natural and inevitable expansion of progressive ideas and attitudes over the generations. Positive change is thus seen as a certainty. All one has to do is to wait for the old folks to croak and the goal will be achieved.

    Unbroken progress is not always the case. I remember the distress my mother expressed in the 1980s and 1990s at the resurgence of particularly virulent forms of racism among young skinheads, klansmen, survivalists and neo-nazis. “I thought racism would die out in my generation”, she complained, “ Now it seems that young racists are worse than ever.” Thankfully, that violent racist tide seems to be waning, but its demise should not be taken for granted. History is not a progression of ever more favorable events. Success is never inevitable. Generational politics cannot be relied upon to carry the day.

    Finally, and most importantly, dismissing the oldest portion of the community as a “lost demographic” is insulting to the groundbreaking work of those who have made our movement possible. It is personally offensive to me because it disrespects my own 35-year participation in the LGBT struggle. I feel that respect for, and encouragement of, my continued work might be a more appropriate attitude toward me as an “old person.”

    Dismissing the elderly also ignores the many acts of courage and support of our allies. Twelve years ago, when same-sex marriage was a small blip on the horizon, my then 72-year old mother presented a paper to her conservative Central Valley church, comparing the ban on same-sex marriage to now-discredited bans on interracial marriage. She lost friends but she presented our message.

    Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, whose groundbreaking work and lifetime of devotion to LGBT rights make my own small efforts pale by comparison, belong to the demographic so cavalierly dismissed by those who, like columnist Dan Savage, insist that the “old votes” passed proposition 8. Del Martin is now dead. Her participation in the marriage lawsuit was one of the last political acts in a lifetime of struggle. She was able to enjoy her married status for a few brief months.

    And that is perhaps the cruelest part of the blithe simplification that the passing of people over sixty will win the day. It is true, we will die. Others will live to enjoy rights founded upon the work of those who came before them, who are no longer able (or who never had the chance at all) to enjoy those rights.

    The Obama campaign won with a 50-state strategy. It flew in the face of conventional wisdom about what demographic groups were “worth” courting. Studying demographic voting patterns should be a tool for focusing and broadening our education and get-out-the-vote efforts, not for affixing blame. As those AARP ads say: “Divided we fail.”

  7. Becks November 16, 2008 at 6:02 pm #

    Leah – thanks so much for bringing light to this important issue. I didn’t hear the speaker you’re referring to, but it sounds like the comments she ended with were not very productive.

    I agree that it makes no sense to blame any one demographic for the passage of Prop 8. People of all ages, races, and religions voted for Prop 8. There is clearly a lot of work to be done by our movement.

    I also am disheartened by the idea that we should just wait for old people to die. Besides that being absurd and disrespectful, it’s incredibly depressing. I’m not ok with waiting another 10 or 20 years for people to die before I can regain my right to marry. We need to get out there and educate the elderly, just like we need to educate every other demographic group. Sitting around waiting for people to die is not an effective strategy.

  8. themacinator November 17, 2008 at 8:49 pm #

    this is a great post. i was on vacation in new orleans and was so happy they had a protest there, too. working on fixing my memory card to get some of the pictures up. the crowd wasn’t quite this big, but still, inspiring. my heart goes out to rebecca kaplan- what a night.

  9. Joe November 30, 2008 at 8:07 am #

    it’s interesting that Dan Savage, mentioned above, the man who thinks that HIV positive men are “ticking viral time bombs” unworthy of relationships with gay men, is now a “spokesman” for the gay community. He certainly isn’t speaking for my interests.
    He’s said in his columns for years that he prefers to just bring up enticing and campy topics that will get a rise, but is such a good lap dog when he goes on mainstream media, isn’t he?
    Too bad he goes from sounding rational and charming on Colbert, but in his column is leading gay people into the same pattern as political pundits in the U.S. who keep themselves going on disagreeing and making a scene such as Hannity and Colmes, Hardball, Crossfire an even the solo guys like O’Reilly. It’s more about getting ratings and selling subscriptions/advertising than actual political progress.
    So now that our country is recovering from Jerry Springer-esque politics, having finally elected a level headed president, the gay community is entering that arena. It’s just such a shame that they’ve had to ostracize the very people who unwittingly sacrificed their lives and/or health to get gay rights where it is now.
    In discussing this a few months ago with an AIDS activist, I was told that the compassion from gay men has always been historically outstanding, but I think gay people can now be very assured, they really are like everyone else.

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