For the past four days, a group of people have gathered outside the Republican Headquarters on East Washington Street in Petaluma to exercise their right to free speech. But no one’s holding Obama signs—California being a foregone conclusion in the Presidential race—no, the entire focus is on Proposition 8, which, if passed, would amend the California constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
On Wednesday afternoon, reaction to those carrying No on 8 signs was mixed. Shortly after the assembly began, a woman from inside the Republican Headquarters looked out the window, gave the middle finger, and then turned around to bend over and shake her posterior.
Later, more volunteers emerged from the Republican Headquarters, where Yes on 8 signs were displayed in the window and on the lawn. One told the crowd to get jobs, saying that she didn’t want to “pay for your food, or your welfare.” Another one emerged with a Yes on 8 sign and quoted Bible scriptures, claiming rather strangely at one point that people don’t die in wars. Another asserted that she thought same-sex couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples, but didn’t think it was a good idea to redefine the word “marriage.”
More people showed up. One of the demonstrators, Eva Gangale, a mother with a small infant, walked across the crosswalk at E. Washington Street holding a No on 8 sign to join the crowd. A car drove by, and the driver yelled out the window. “Your kid’s gonna grow up to be a faggot,” he said.
And yet most of the passing drivers honked, waved and gave thumbs up. Several leaned out their windows to say thank you. A passing pedestrian, who explained that he had an hour to kill before an appointment, asked if there were any extra signs; he picked one up and joined the gathering.
Still more demonstrators arrived, almost spontaneously: an Iraq veteran, Arthur Wallis, came to voice his support. He held a sign that said: “Vet. Straight. No on 8,” and wore his military uniform. When a Republican volunteer walked up and asked him, “Are you a veteran, or are you just wearing that?” he explained that yes, he was in fact an veteran of the Iraq War.
A mother passing on the street, Paulette Carlés, saw the crowd and approached with her two children, Isabel and Gabe. She wore a yellow t-shirt which endorsed the reading of books. She had gotten increasingly flustered with the numerous Yes on 8 signs posted around town, and was glad to see that she wasn’t alone.
She excitedly called her husband, who was home making dinner. He stopped what he was doing, drove down, and held a sign too.
It’s not too late to donate to No on 8.More photos by Elizabeth Seward below.