As Prop 8 Decision is Cheered, Marriage Equality Supporters Brace for Backlash of Hate

At Long Beach's Bixy Park on Wednesday afternoon, a crowd of a few hundred people came holding rainbow flags, American flags, yellow and blue equality stickers, and each other. There were couples and families. Strollers and dogs. A guy with a black eye and a hat on his head that looked like something from the Tea Party costume closet. Even a few Long Beach Roller Derby girls.

Proposition 8 was overruled by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in a San Francisco courtroom earlier in the day, and a line up of speakers representing organizations and local leaders came out to show their support and congratulate an emotional crowd.

Find out what they had to say after the jump...

Reason to celebrate at Bixby Park in Long Beach.
Reason to celebrate at Bixby Park in Long Beach.
All photos by Mary Bell/OC Weekly

The message was simple but powerful: this is only another step on a long road toward what should be a landmark decision in the U.S. Supreme Court, but it's a huge win in gay rights. And it's finally time to celebrate some good news.

The rally's emcee, Ron Sylvester, is the chairman of The Center in Long Beach, an organization that provides support for the city's LGBT community.

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A pair of high heels like you wouldn't believe walks up to the microphone in the park and they're attached to Long Beach City Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal, who proceeded to get all syrupy.

"We are feeling the nectar of victory," says Lowenthal, "you have already made history."

Sylvester watches her leave before adding, "I think I speak for the crowd when I say, love those shoes." The crowd cheered. Though, there's not much you could have told them that wouldn't have brought cheers.

The rally was wrapping up when the impromptu wedding proposal finally came. There had to be one. Annie Parker, founder of the Amp organization, gave a short speech, alongside her co-founder and girlfriend Sylvia. Parker took a moment to give credit where credit is due.

"To the pioneers that came before, but don't necessarily boogie down at our dance parties. We wouldn't be here without them."

At that, Parker got down on one knee. The crowd swooned, and the proposal ended as quickly as it began, with a dramatic dip and a kiss. They walked to the back of the stage, and hugged in the background behind a pillar. No one heard the answer, though it appeared obvious, so Sylvester stepped up to the podium and asked what Sylvia said.

Parker didn't move a step closer to the microphone. She left one arm around her new fiancé and gave a thumbs up with the other.

The rally was about to end on this happy note. The crowd was ready to get to bars and celebrate. Everyone probably woke up with a hangover, preparing for the next battle in the long saga that is Prop 8. But then Geoff Maddox, founder of the website, had his turn at the podium. He asked the crowd one question.

"How many of you are victims of hate crimes?"

A shocking number of hands went up.

"I saw way too many hands raised," said Maddox. "When decisions like this are made people tend not to like it."

He warned against forthcoming hostility. Supporters of the proposition have been granted a stay on the ruling, which prevents the decision from having any effect for the time being. It may not be an overt act of hostility, but it does put a damper on what is otherwise a win for the the gay community.

"I'd like nothing more than to turn on my TV and see lines of people getting married," said Sylvester. "But we've waited long enough for this. We can wait a little longer."

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