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Protesters on both sides of California Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriage, crowd the intersection of High Street and MacArthur Boulevard in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008. (D. Ross Cameron/The Oakland Tribune)

OAKLAND — Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in California, remains a hot-button issue and has prompted rallying cries from gay rights activists around the country.

Voters' passage of Prop. 8 was a disappointment to many after the milestone victory of Barack Obama, the first African-American elected U.S. president.

On Saturday, hundreds of thousands from the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community and their supporters will participate in a nationwide protest to demonstrate their sadness and outrage. The event is organized by JoinTheImpact.com, an online group aimed at making a positive impact in the lives of the LGBT community, their allies and their opponents.

To date, more than 250,000 people have signed up to take part in the event and will descend on their city halls, state capitols and the U.S. Capitol to make their voices heard.

"We had change when we elected Obama," said Eric Ross, 29, who is organizing the Oakland protest. "Then we took a giant step backwards with Prop. 8."

Ross volunteered Tuesday night to spearhead the 10:30 a.m. protest Saturday in front of Oakland City Hall at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. He sent out an invitation on the social networking site Facebook, and in less than 15 hours more than 100 people signed up to participate. He has invited Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and Rebecca Kaplan, the city's newly elected and first openly lesbian council member, to attend.

"Everyone thinks of San Francisco as the gay city," Ross said. "But I wanted to do something for the East Bay to make sure we were visible as well."

Through the Join the Impact Web site, anyone can organize a protest and customize their own news release and blog to send to local media. The site provides protest locations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and downloads for protests signs and chants.

Many Web sites have been created to spread the word and have reached groups planning protests in Canada and Scotland.

Prop. 8 has garnered national attention with California now one of 30 states, including Florida and Arizona, with constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. In Arkansas, voters recently approved a ballot measure to block adoptions by gay men and lesbians.

The Mormon church took a high-profile position in the Prop. 8 campaign, urging followers to vote for the measure and raising millions of dollars in individual donations to support it. Fifty-two percent of California voters approved the proposition.

"We believe that a man and a woman should be married because of how it originated in society. We believe in the sanctity of marriage," said Don Eaton of Oakland, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "And while everyone has a right to protest, the election was over a week ago."

But the fight for marriage rights continues.

Civil rights groups and San Francisco officials recently filed two separate legal challenges in the California Supreme Court, asking justices to block the state's latest ban on same-sex marriages. A motion was filed setting up what could be another long legal tussle over same-sex marriage that eventually could spill into other courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ross said Saturday's protest may be a small step in the political effort to overturn Prop. 8, but it needs to start somewhere. "I believe the main objective is to bring about awareness in the community about the equal rights for everyone."

For more information visit, jointheimpact.wetpaint.com.

Reach Kamika Dunlap at 510-208-6448 or kdunlap@bayareanewsgroup.com.

If you go
  • When: 10:30 a.m. Saturday
  • Where: Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza; Alameda City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue; Walnut Creek City Hall, 1666 N. Main St.; San Francisco City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
  • Information: www.jointheimpact.com