As Prop 8 Decision is Cheered, Marriage Equality Supporters Brace for Backlash of Hate

At Long Beach's Bixy Park on Wednesday afternoon, a crowd of a few hundred people came holding rainbow flags, American flags, yellow and blue equality stickers, and each other. There were couples and families. Strollers and dogs. A guy with a black eye and a hat on his head that looked like something from the Tea Party costume closet. Even a few Long Beach Roller Derby girls.

Proposition 8 was overruled by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in a San Francisco courtroom earlier in the day, and a line up of speakers representing organizations and local leaders came out to show their support and congratulate an emotional crowd.

Find out what they had to say after the jump...

All photos by Mary Bell/OC Weekly
Reason to celebrate at Bixby Park in Long Beach.
The message was simple but powerful: this is only another step on a long road toward what should be a landmark decision in the U.S. Supreme Court, but it's a huge win in gay rights. And it's finally time to celebrate some good news.

The rally's emcee, Ron Sylvester, is the chairman of The Center in Long Beach, an organization that provides support for the city's LGBT community.  He brought together seven organizations for the rally, as well as the speakers and politicians.

(See photographer Mary Bell's slideshow here.)

"There is still a lot to do," said Sharon Weismann, chief of staff for state Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach). "But we need to take tonight to feel good about this." The crowd cheered, and some wiped their eyes.

Cory Allen, president of the Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club, wore a tee shirt that said, "I do." He used his time at the podium to invoke Margaret Meade's famous quote.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world."

"I'm going to cry again!" said a voice in the crowed when Allen finished speaking.

Reverend Jerry Stinson from the First Congregational Church of Long Beach looked like something between a priest and top gun pilot, combining his all black garb and white priest collar with a short buzz cut and aviators. He called Prop 8 diabolical, spitting out the "d" with all the fire and brimstone that only a preacher can conjure

. The reverend reminded everyone that it was funded with money from "a religious community that calls themselves Christians." The crowd jeered in response.

"We need to affirm the value of the wall between church and state," Stinson continued. "No church, no matter how rich, should be able to push their values on the people."

He also shared his bigger hopes with the crowd.

"We're seeking a new day when the law will be Ask and Tell," said the reverend.

Tim Patton, field director for the absent state Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), started his speech on her behalf by pandering to the crowd: "Let me just say, you are a lovely group of people."

He might as well have cocked his wrist and said fabulous.

"Let's remember today," he said, "as the day that equality and justice won."

Sylvester brought three, real life, married gay couples onstage.

Robert and Jason were together six years before getting married. (Later at Portfolio coffee shop, the couple showed up for open-mic night. Jason dedicated his guitar strumming performance to the ruling, because "every person should be able to live in a totally monotonous relationship").

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