|California blaze ‘like Armageddon’|
In Southern California, we only have three seasons. Fire Season, Flood Season, and Tourist Season. Welcome to Fire Season.
Over the last 11 days, advocates have used the Web to organize scattered protests at places like the Mormon Temple in Westwood and Sunset Junction in Silver Lake and mount boycotts against businesses that supported Proposition 8. Those efforts snowballed, and marches against the proposition are expected in more than 300 cities across the country.
Opponents of gay marriage on Friday strongly criticized the boycotts and marches. And it remains uncertain whether the aggressive tactics ultimately advance the activists’ goal: Either having the California Supreme Court throw out Proposition 8 or persuading voters in a new election that gay marriage should be legal in the state.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told a Times editorial board meeting Friday that proponents of gay marriage should take the issue again to the California Supreme Court and review the strategies that failed to persuade voters to defeat Proposition 8.
“I can’t imagine for them to say anything else but what they’ve already said, that it’s unconstitutional,” Schwarzenegger said of the state high court’s ruling on earlier barriers to gay marriage. The governor opposed a ban on gay marriage.
Rather than carrying on with protests, supporters of same-sex marriage would be better served by reviewing their campaign strategy and doing a better job of crafting the message to voters the next time, the governor said.
The boycotts and protests also came under attack Friday from backers of Proposition 8 who said at a Santa Ana press conference that they amounted to intimidation and blacklisting.
“These cowardly acts are intended to terrorize people,” said Yes on 8 campaign Director Frank Schubert, referring to envelopes containing white powder received Thursday at Mormon headquarters in Salt Lake City and the Mormon Temple in Westwood. “Our opponents do not like the outcome [of the election] and that is to be respected. They fought hard and they feel defeated and that is understandable,what they do not have the right to do, however, is to harass and intimidate people. And they do not have the right to commit acts of domestic terrorism against our supporters.”
The Los Angeles Police Department said officers will be out in force for Saturday’s demonstration at City Hall. Authorities estimate that as many as 40,000 people could attend, more than previous Proposition 8 marches but nowhere near the size of immigration rights protests in 2006.
Organizers have marches planned across the country, from Boston to Anchorage.
Nick Velasquez, a spokesman for the group Freedom Action Inclusion Rights, which was formed last week to organize a march in downtown Los Angeles said that his organization wants to push marchers to think about the future.
The burst of activism has some wondering whether this is a temporary phenomenon or the start of real movement.
“I think a great deal of complacency has set in,” said Martin Duberman, a historian and gay-rights activist. “The way I hear all of this expressed often is, well, it’s over. . . . It’s just a matter of cleaning up the details, and we are almost on an automatic track to having all the rights of everybody else.”
That sentiment in many ways describes the feelings of Amy Balliett, a 26-year-old Seattle resident who works in the tech industry. Balliett built a website, Join the Impact, put up a post suggesting a march Saturday and e-mailed a link to everyone she knew . By this week, marches had been organized in cities all over the country, and national groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and Equality California, which had led the fight against Proposition 8, joined the cause.
But backers of Proposition 8 said the online activism is, in the words of Schubert, “a wildfire of hate going out of control.”
Proposition 8 opponents have the right to protest and file lawsuits, “but what they don’t have the right to do is harass and intimidate people. They don’t have a right to blacklist and boycott our supporters,” he added.
Proposition 8 backers also criticized elected officials, including Schwarzenegger, for not condemning what they said were acts of vandalism and boycotts against supporters.
“Where is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger?” Schubert asked. “Where is Sen. Dianne Feinstein? Where are the people who represent us, no matter their position on Proposition 8, to stand up for the rights of the millions of Californians who have done the one thing we ask and teach our children, which is to participate in the democratic process?”