Karen Ocamb

LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at LA Prop 8 Protest Rally

Filed By Karen Ocamb | November 16, 2008 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: gay marriage, gay rights, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, No On 8, Prop 8 protests

Thumbnail image for LA Mayor at Anti-Prop 8 Rally.jpgThis weekend has been pure hell for the Southland with fires in three different counties raging out of control and hundreds of homes destroyed and lives up-ended. One has to feel heart-sick for our fellow Angelinos at the sheer scope of loss, especially the elderly on fixed incomes living in the now totally destroyed 500-mobile home community.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was on the scene, keeping track of the efforts to battle the fires. But as mayor, he also felt a responsibility to address the thousands who'd gathered in the shadow of City Hall to protest the passage of Prop 8 and demand equality for all. Here is a transcript of his remarks:

Villaraigosa said:

"I love you Los Angeles. And I mean it in every sense of the word. I love you, Los Angeles. Thank you. Torie Osborn. Thank you for your leadership and thank you for the decades that you have stood there - sometimes all alone - often times with others - a visionary, make no mistake. Torie Osborn.

I understand that that genesis of this organization began with one person - on a blog on the Internet - communicating to another person.

It started in Seattle, it carried on in Los Angeles. As far as the eye can see - we're here today because we believe that California is a Golden State. And that in that Golden State - let the sun shine in. Let the sun shine on this great state.

But right now - before I get too much into this speech, I do want to say something because we are Angelinos and we care about all of the people in this city right now who are threatened by fire. And I want to say to them - please, when you're asked to be evacuated, please leave as quickly as possible. I'm talking about the fires now. We want you to be as safe as we can. We've lost more structures than we have in recent memory. Our firefighters are there with our police officers. We want everyone to please cooperate as much as we can. We're at the mercy of winds - that we can't control at this time.

But I've come from the fires because I feel the wind behind my back as well. It's the wind of change that has swept the nation. It is the wind of optimism and hope that has swept the nation - and in many ways - it began here.

You see when our great nation was in a crisis about to be divided by war - California chose to be a free state, not a slave state. From our very beginning, California decided that we would lead the way. California decided that we would join the cause of freedom. And here we are in front of this august city hall that you all honored me with the ability to lead - here we are - and we're here to say - that LA will lead the way.

And here in LA - here in California, the Golden State, a free state, a state that lead the way when some believed that a black man couldn't marry a white woman - or the other way around. And we led the way. We said that here, in this state, we couldn't accept that - that people ought to be able to marry who they want. We stood for that idea. And ten years - almost twenty years later in Virginia they decided a case that established what we began here in this great state.

Some have said, well Mr. Villaraigosa, I don't like your position on Proposition 8. They said, who are you to get involved in this issue?
Well, I think we got elected to stand up for the constitution. I think we got elected to stand up for the idea that in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of God, thou shall not discriminate!

You know I didn't live - none of us lived in the times of Jesus. But I'd like to believe that the Jesus I love, the Jesus I pray to, didn't just talk about being a Shepard. He knew that the role of the Shepard was to bring the flock in - all of the flock. Every one of us.

We're here today because we believe, we believe, that in this state this great constitution that has always stood for freedom and rights and equality - that this constitution can't just be changed with the drop of a hat. No - you can't deny a fundamental right just because a majority says so.

We wouldn't be able to do that if the majority said that Antonio Villaraigosa may be your mayor or Jack Weiss can be your councilmember - we wouldn't be able to do that. The constitution has always been a document that speaks out for the rights- the fundamental rights of people - for the liberty that we cherish and love - for the liberty that we fight and die for.

And so we come today, we come today to begin a conversation - because it's not going to just be about demonstrations. It's not going to just be about the Internet. We're going to have conversations in our neighborhoods. We'll carry them in our schools, in our churches, in every civic institution in our union. In city halls in the halls of congress in the legislature - we're going to take every opportunity to begin that conversation all the way to the White House.

Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

(Then he speaks in Spanish)

Thank you very much.

Si Se Puede!....

I am going to get back t the fires right now. But I want all of you to know that everyone of us here has to commit to going back home to talk to our friends and our family. This is not about a march on November 15. This is not about the anger and the pain and the disappointment that we all feel - just a few short days after this election.

We're committed - we believe in this great state. We believe in this great America. We believe that all things are possible and we will continue our fight until every one of us has the right - the fundamental right - to marry, to live in liberty and freedom - to be able to participate - to have thr full civil rights that we expect in his great country we love so much.

God bless you all."

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I can't imagine the mayor of Indianapolis being so outspoken on a state issue. In fact, I can't imagine him speaking out on a civil rights issue either...


I tend to think most mayors across this great land would not speak out on a civil rights issue. Nevertheless, as the mayor's comments narrates it starts with "one person."