Protesters March in Objection To Prop. 8

Chanting “Gay, straight, black, white, marriage is a civil right,” around 100 protesters marched to Harvard Square after gathering outside of Cambridge City Hall yesterday afternoon in protest to Proposition 8, a ban on same-sex marriage approved by California voters passed earlier this month.

The rally in Central Square, which featured speakers including state representatives and past and present mayors of Cambridge, emphasized the city’s example in legalizing gay marriage and advocated spreading the “sweet wine of freedom” across the country.

Cambridge was the first city to legalize gay marriage and has had two consecutive gay mayors.

“The sky did not fall,” said Mayor E. Denise Simmons at yesterday’s rally. Simmons, who married her partner when Cambridge legalized same-sex marriage in 2004, is the first black lesbian to be elected mayor in the United States.

She provided messages of optimism to the crowd, citing the election of Barack Obama as an indication that “the tainted symbols of inequality have fallen by the wayside.” The mayor said that marriage equality will someday be available to all families throughout the country just as it is in Cambridge.

Simmons continued speaking even when her microphone stopped amplifying her voice, saying, “We will not be silenced.”

Many of the speakers at the rally were very hopeful in the change Obama’s administration may bring, with Ryan MacNeely, co-organizer of the event, expressing his view that gay marriage would be legal nationwide in two to four years.

While gathered near Out of Town News in Harvard Square after the City Hall rally, Christopher M. Mason, co-organizer of the rally and member of the Cambridge GLBT commission, stirred up memories of the Obama campaign when he and the crowd began chanting, “Yes We Can!”

In addition to protesting Proposition 8, the rally was intended to promote the passage of the Massachusetts Transgender Civil Rights bill—scheduled to be considered next spring—which calls for basic rights, such as protection from hate crimes and discrimination in schools and workplaces, for transgendered persons. State representatives Alice K. Wolf and William N. Brownsberger, who sponsored the bill, were present and spoke at the rally. Mason lamented the fact that while Massachusetts is ahead of its peers in gay marriage rights, it is not “doing so well for our transgendered folks.”

“We need to fight for full marriage equality but in doing so we cannot leave behind the transgendered members of our community,” said Mason.

Staff writer Bora Fezga can be reached at bfezga@fas.harvard.edu.

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