Almost 3,000 LGBT and straight North and South Carolinians joined in protests over California’s anti-gay Proposition 8 across the two states on Nov. 15. The protests ranged from as small as 30 participants in Greenville, N.C., to as large as 1,400 participants in Raleigh.
Planned with less than a week’s notice, community members used social networking sites like Facebook.com and MySpace.com to connect to friends and family. Many of the organizers, with little-to-no prior organizing or activism experience, helped to pull together events that brought awareness and visibility to the anti-gay ballot initiatives banning marriage in Arizona, California and Florida and same-sex adoption in Arkansas.
The massive, nationwide protests were organized by the informal JoinTheImpact.com, started by 26-year-old, Seattle resident Amy Balliett. Some of her group’s supporters are now advocating a “day without a gay” strike and boycott on Dec. 10.
In Charlotte, about 200 people gathered in front of the city’s government center. Members of the One Voice Chorus and Gay Men’s Chorus led participants in rounds of “We Shall Overcome” and other civil rights songs. In Raleigh, 1,400 gathered on the lawn of the Halifax Mall located directly behind the state Legislative Building. They marched from the Mall to the Governor’s Mansion and historical Capitol.
Former Faith in America executive director and former Methodist minister Jimmy Creech, as well as one-time, openly gay U.S. Senate candidate Jim Neal, addressed the Raleigh gathering and spoke at length about the harms of religion-based prejudice and anti-gay political battles.
In Wilmington, 130 citizens protested and heard The CW’s “One Tree Hill” star Sophia Bush condemn anti-gay ballot initiatives like Proposition 8.
“We are here to be agents of change and to realize we are all one, whether our sexuality by definition separates us, our humanism and strength as Americans does not,” activist and straight ally Stephanie Hart told the gathered Wilmingtonians, according to gay website OutImpact.com’s Bambi Weavil.
According to Out in Asheville editor Lin Orndorf, approximately 300 people attended a packed protest in downtown Asheville’s Pritchard Park. She reported that only two counter-protesters attended, but did not disturb the event.
Approximately 60 people attended a march through Boone’s Appalachian State Unviersity and 300-400 attended a rally in downtown Greensboro, according to Q-Notes community blogger Jeff Olson. Q-Notes Columbia Contributing Writer Gareth Fenley reported about 150 people attended a one-hour vigil outside of the South Carolina State House. Hundreds also attended events in Charleston.
Two days before the protests, Q-Notes, Out in Asheville and Wilmington’s OutImpact.com teamed up to offer joint reporting on the historic Prop 8 protests across the Carolinas. To view more reports from the events, visit the joint reporting blog at nccprop8protests.blogspot.com.