“Support and Defend Traditional Marriage”
Madera, CA February 5th, 2005
This past Saturday, Feb. 5th, Madera played host to a “Support and Defend Traditional Marriage” rally sponsored by The Campaign for Children and Families. They were joined by Assemblyman Dave Cogdill, Mike Villines, Randy Thomasson (president of CCF), Judy Hutchens and Benjamin Lopez of the Traditional Values Coalition. They were accompanies by about 150 people and several children. Not to mention those of us present for a peaceful protest.
Leslie and I arrived about 9:30, the event was to start at 10:00. We arrived as the bus and RV were pulling up. By 9:45, the rest of our “Love Warriors” joined us. I was happy to see Jason, RJ, Jerry, Lisa, and our new friend Hell Dog. We were few in number, but our presence was profound. We wore our EQCA/MECA shirts and our “Stop Spiritual Violence” ones. We carried our signs with great pride, Jerry’s “Legalizing Same Sex Marriage Will Strengthen Society” sign was there for all to see. It was very evident we were not wanted there. Why would we be? We are the ones who want to “destroy” their marriages and society.
As the rally started the Riverdale Assembly of God choir greeted everyone with hymns from the Gospel and several patriotic songs. The children were given signs to hold at the street corners and for the press to see. The opening prayer was delivered by: Pastor Jerry Comer. Everyone participated in the Pledge of Allegiance and listened to the national Anthem.
For the next hour and ten minutes the speakers took turns ‘bashing’ our community, one right after another. They weren’t just targeting the “gays”, they also took aim at our friends and family, people who love and support us. Such remarks were made about our school systems promoting the “homosexual agenda”, their work places being ‘infiltrated” by homosexuals, they even remarked about our quest for Equal Rights as ridiculous. Ben Lopez gave and example: “suppose he (Ben) wanted another man’s car, does that give him the right to go take it?” Of course not, grand theft auto is not a right. I was actually amazed at the rhetoric being preached there. Yes, I know it is never pleasant at these rallies, however, I couldn’t believe how discriminatory their remarks were. This was definitely the biggest display of open bigotry I’ve been present for thus far.
Obviously, the rally was in opposition to AB19. Mark Leno introduced AB19 to the house floor. AB19 if passed, will return the California Constitution to its original definition of marriage. From 1850-1977, California Constitution stated that marriage was between two persons, it was not gender specific. It will not change nor destroy the marriages of anyone. Two people given the right to marry will not affect those who already married. What it will do, is allow thousands and thousands of same sex couples to have the legal validity of their sacred commitment and union recognized by Californians and by California Law. It will strengthen our families as well as send a message to our children about family values and the importance of them. It will allow the gay community the opportunity to have the same legal rights as heterosexuals. The thick line between “us” and “them” when it comes to family values will shrink.
I believe Thomas Jefferson summed it up very nicely, “…All men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These words are very strong in their definition: Life-physical, mental, spiritual experiences that constitute existence. Liberty-the condition of being free from restriction and control. Pursuit of happiness-striving towards enjoyment, pleasure, satisfaction and joy. These are Our Equal Rights! These are what we are fighting for.
We went to Madera for visibility. We are here, we are many, and we are not going to give up. I was extremely overwhelmed with pride to be there with my fellow “Love Warriors”. We stayed from start to finish. We endured all of their negativity. We laughed, we groaned, and we stood our ground. Overall, I believe this was a very moving and motivating experience. With the media coverage of The Fresno Bee, Madera Tribune, Channel 47, and ABC Families, it is clear we are gaining momentum. We are on our way, let’s not give up or get discouraged, Dave Cogdill expressed his belief that we (gays) are “strong and vigilant” community trying to push our agenda. Well, if by “agenda” he was referring to our desire for Equal Rights, then he is right! We will continue this “fight” until we are blessed with equality.
A special Thank You to Leslie, Jason, RJ, Jerry, Lisa, Hell Dog, and Baltimore.
This event was organized by: Becki Jones:Tulare MECA/EQCA, Baltimore Gonzalez: Fresno MECA/EQCA