In response to California’s passage of Proposition 8 – which will amend the state’s constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman, thus overturning the Supreme Court’s May 2008 ruling that provided marriage rights to same-sex couples – Santa Barbara’s Pacific Pride Foundation (PPF) organized a No on Prop 8 candlelight vigil on Friday, November 7, from 5 to 6:15 p.m. at De la Guerra Plaza.
The open-mike event was introduced by PPF’s executive director David Selberg, who remarked on the somberness of the evening before mentioning the promise of hope that the several legal battles challenging the proposition’s passage provide those directly impacted by Tuesday’s vote. Indeed, the approximately 18,000 same-sex couples who have been married in California from June until November immediately were thrust into legal limbo; after the initial disappointment of the results, many were left asking, “What does this mean for my marriage?”
The forum was very well attended, in numbers and in Santa Barbara’s political and religious heavyweights. City councilmember Helene Schneider, 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf, and the Unitarian Society’s Ken Collier were among the many public figures who spoke from the raised platform; The Independent‘s own Robby Robbins, leaders from UCSB’s Queer Student Union, and many community members – both gay and heterosexual – also spoke to the crowd, which started small, at about 150 people, but eventually ballooned into 350 or possibly even 400 folks.
Although the overall mood could certainly be described as mournful of the civil rights lost, there also were sparks of anger and frustration, not to mention hope and a renewed sense of activism. As if to illustrate that point, the event – which originally was scheduled to end at 6:15 p.m. in time for the start of the OUTrageous Film Festival at the Metro 4 Theatre – continued with a march onto State Street, with participants continuing to hold their candles while juggling No on 8 signs and chanting various incarnations of “No on 8.” Honks and claps of support came from the cars and pedestrians on S.B.’s main drag.
At the time of this writing, with 100 percent of precincts reporting and more than 10 million votes cast, Proposition 8 passed 52.4 percent to 47.6 percent statewide; it failed in Santa Barbara County, with 53.1 percent (70, 539) against and 46.9 percent (62, 383) in favor.