What an exciting afternoon at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, PA. The National Organization for Marriage took center “stage” on the steps but we actively responded and created visibility across the street for LGBT equality! (Click on the image to the left for the full interactive gallery or click here if you can’t see it!)
There was actually surprisingly big turnout for NOM’s part. Prop 8 Trial Tracker/NOM Tour Tracker counted NOM at 75. I heard that some Pennsylvania orgs (like AFA of PA, etc.) helped bring more people in. From where we were standing across the street, it was hard to see and hear NOM’s rally because of their bus—which I think was a good thing.
Our numbers were hovering just around 50 at any given time. We were mostly engaged in a honking war. People driving down the street from our side would honk for us and we’d cheer. Folks coming the other direction would honk for NOM (and the Catholics standing by the street, though that’s almost redundant), then see us and hide their faces in shame. It was pretty interesting to watch, and it was great to see so many passers-by offer us their support, including company truck drivers, city bus drivers, and even pizza delivery folks!
I think our counterprotest was extremely effective. We did very few cheers while NOM’s speakers were yakking away, but it might not have mattered because the street and bus were a great buffer. I say great, because we had a whole lot more visibility to traffic and the media spent a lot of time filming us and interviewing us. You can also see from the photos that we had a lot of positive messages and a great spirit of family, and when we did chant, it was messages of love and equality. We also sang “This Land Is Your Land” and “Gentle Loving People.”
I find myself wondering how differently our event would have been if Equality Pennsylvania had supported the event. For sure, as Adam Bink pointed out on P8TT, if the people who had come to last night’s event came today, we would have outnumbered NOM, as there was very little overlap. We’ll never know for sure, but we can rest assured that there is some amazing grassroots support in Central Pennsylvania who won’t let NOM go unanswered. I want to personally thank Audrey Smith and Kelly McEntree who both helped mobilize a lot of people to be out there today!
On a personal note, I was quite proud of my mother for joining me today. It was her first real act of LGBT activism, and I was actually surprised by just how fired up she got! She’s a great ally and it meant a lot to have her with me.