OpEd: A Day of Hope, My Time at the Prop 8 Hearing (PHOTOS)
Words and Photos by Jay Squires
I felt like going to DC for the Prop 8 hearing was something I needed to do. The atmosphere was electric. I could hear the cheers of supporters from blocks away. I knew my people, members of the LGBTQ community and their allies, were up there and they were constructively raising hell.
When I got to the court, I saw the streets were full of people carrying supportive signs; there were opponents as well, walking through our crowds. It was alright though, this is America and there are two sides to this story, but everyone seemed to be getting along. I couldn’t make it inside, so instead I enjoyed the sunshine in the streets with my fellow activists.
There were speakers at a podium, but it was hard to hear them from so deep in the crowd. Attorney’s supporting the repeal of Prop 8 spoke, as did the opposition, after the arguments were over with – it was a chance for both sides to speak about the issue in the beautiful weather.
I’d never seen anything of this magnitude at the Supreme Court, anything with this number of people – I’d say there were easily 5,000 people there. Our presence there, and the numbers that were there, sent a message to Americans, I think, that people care about this issue. And we’re gonna fight to get the result that is just.
There was plenty of security, I felt safe. Officers were stationed throughout the crowd. I didn’t see any scuffles or anything like that.
I spent some of my time there speaking with a group of activists from North Carolina, Unitarian Church members. They carried a bright yellow “Standing on the Side of Love” banner supporting marriage equality. They knew Richmond’s Rev. Jean Pupke, and we swapped old stories about Virginia and the struggle NC faced in their anti-gay marriage amendment from last year. A struggle they lost by larger numbers than we did in Virginia back in 2006.
As I said, I felt like I had to go – I’ve been involved with this movement, the fight for equality, for 30 + years. And this was one of the best days I’ve had in that 30+ years. It was a day that really gave me hope. In a lot of ways, it was a day I never expected to see happen and it filled me with hope.
Here in Virginia, it’s hard to get hope, but when I look at what’s happening in other parts of the country I do get some hope. And I know that one day, we will have these benefits here in Virginia. We might be the very last state to do it, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we were, but after what I saw at the Supreme Court, I know it will happen in time.
Jay Squires is the owner of Squires legal services, available online at Squireslegal.com and GayRVA.com
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