Yasmin Nair

Photos from the Chicago Anti-Proposition 8 Rally, November 15, Federal Plaza

Filed By Yasmin Nair | November 16, 2008 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: California Proposition 8, Chicago, gay marriage, November 15, Prop. 8, same-sex marriage

I was there to cover the event. As you might imagine, my feelings were -- shall we say -- mixed. There were at least 1000-1500 people, quite possibly a lot more than that (I'm waiting for official numbers). I was struck by the energy of the crowd as well as the range in age, and thrilled to see all the hand-made signs (most rallies these days depend on hyper-professional and monotonous signage). I couldn't help notice that there was barely a handful of African-American faces in the crowds, but quite a few signs that drew the dividing line between white and black gays.

FOR THE RECORD: Contrary to the urban myth that's being disseminated, marchers did NOT "take over" Michigan Avenue. I was with them on the Mag Mile, and have pictures from that part of the march. Marchers were rigorously monitored and never let off the sidewalk. They even stopped at stop lights. There was no, repeat no, gay takeover of downtown Chicago.

I have to wonder: if this was a rally to end the prison industrial complex or the draconian "sex offender" laws that place unfair burdens on so many, would there be such large crowds? Why weren't there large rallies marching against Proposition 9? Proposition 9, which also made it on the California ballot, has been denounced by several organisations and newspapers as an expensive and needless measure that claims to advance victim's rights while, in fact, increasing the scope of the prison industrial complex.

To see the photos of signs, and many others, go after the jump.

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"I have to wonder: if this was a rally to end the prison industrial complex or the draconian "sex offender" laws that place unfair burdens on so many, would there be such large crowds?"

Probably not. It's hard to get people to care about actual civil rights. It's a lot harder to get people riled up because child molesters have to let the neighborhood know they are there and Charlie Manson doesn't get a parole hearing as often.

As to what should be the sole focus of this post, glad to see that the protests finally came to Chicago.


I think you'd have to agree that not everyone who goes to a rally needs to to have their thoughts vetted by the gay thought police, yes? So I don't think you should be determining what I can or can't focus on.

Child molesters and Charlie Manson - That's such a classic right-wing strategy, to use the most inflammatory language to dismiss an idea that deviates slightly from the official "message." Come on people, we can do better than this. At least make a rational point about Proposition 9, which is the issue I raised. I've written about sex offender laws before, and you can check that at "Sex Offender Laws and the Case of Paul Shanley" which you can find at:


Feel free to come back at me with me with any critiques you have after you've read that piece. But please don't stoop to the level of the Right. This is no different than Sarah Palin and her "palling around with terrorists" bit.

I already read that post, and replied to it. Scroll down, and you can see my comments. I'm still waiting on those citations I asked for backing up your claims, by the way.

I would also note that you attack me for using "most inflammatory language" of the right-wing to support my point when in your original post on this subject, you used the most inflammatory language of the left wing (poor innocent parents locked up for taking pics of their kid in the tub and people on the sex registry for peeing in public) to support yours.

So why don't read my comments to your original post as well as these comments and "feel free to come back at me with me with any critiques you have" when you can actually support your arguments with citations and prove any falsehoods in mine.


Ah, that. You're referring to posts from October 2007. A few of us tackled the questions you raised. In October 2007.

For more info on sex offender laws, see National Center for Reason and Justice www.ncrj.org and http://www.reformsexoffenderlaws.org/

As for the rest, I'm not going to get into more of a back and forth about citing cases, especially now that I've been reminded of your baiting. It's clear you're not seeking clarification or proof, or even a sustained discussion, but that you'd like a forum to keep repeating your own incendiary points. Sorry, you can keep your bait.

If you wish to refer to asking for citations to back up your spurious claims baiting, so be it. "Getting into a back and forth citing cases" can be such a pain when you don't have the tools to do so other than a hysterical website that is likewise short on facts and long on "anonymous" emails.

I would love some "clarification and proof." However, you have over the course of two pedophile apologist posts offered little of that. Instead you dismiss my thoughts as right-wing screed and compare me to Sarah Palin. Oh well, such is rhetorical argument when logic and reason are not on your side.

The rally that turned into a march, was amazing. The numbers continued to grow and support flourished. It was slightly disappointing to see so few black lgbt persons coming out to support this issue. Yes it was cold. Yes the whole event took more than a few hours but still
Being at the rally/march...i found myself smiling the ENTIRE time. Proud to be in attendance and to feel like i was actually "doing" something with my frustration.
It appears that media has not been able to fully capture the magnitude of so many people, literally closing off and blocking magnificent mile! Unmistakably in support of gay rights and equal liberty. The flags were so very vibrant and added to the beauty of the day!!


For the record, the mag mile was not closed off. I followed the marchers through their route, and the police made pretty sure that everyone just stayed on the sidewalk. The streets were not overtaken in some mass protest style.

As for the lack black lgbtq persons in the crowd - I'm not sure I blame them, given the hostility towards the black community evidenced by white gay folks in the last week, and some of the people at the rally. As you've no doubt seen in the photographs, there were posters that said things like, "Black is the New Gay" and one that says something on the lines of "I helped elect the first black president and all i got was a lousy marriage ban."

Thanks for looking!

I was also on the whole route... and from where I was standing the north bound lane on the mag mile (from the river up) was so packed with supporters and we didn't stop at any lights or get off the street until we made it past water tower place... then we continued to return to the street on the south bound return route which was when we were forced back on the side walk multiple times.

It seemed to me the street was pretty shut down. Otherwise i might have been close to a car or maybe arrested since I never left the street (until we turned around)... neither of which happened.

I also have pictures from that part of the march. I dunno what part of the line you were in... but obviously not where I was....


I interviewed someone with the sign, and he certainly didn't mean it ironically/in the style of the SNL joke, which I get. There are multiple ways to see what "black" signifies in this context. But what do you think of the other two signs?

In a later piece, I'll post details from the interview.

I was on Mag Mile, and have the pictures - as you can see, there wasn't anyone on the street. I just spoke to a fellow reporter who affirmed my point, and pointed out that everyone stopped at the lights. I'd truly be interested to see your pics, since it's possible you were at a much earlier part. It would be interesting to know if Chicago actually interrupted the flow of tourist commerce on a Sunday. Again, my point here is that noone took over the street without police permission. If they were closed off, as Adams was, they walked on the street or part of it, but not without prior permission.

We were about midway through the group during the march and we absolutely shut down the streets -- going over the river, the cars and buses were swarmed and couldn't move as people surrounded them on all sides. At another point later on, there were more cars and taxis stuck in the streets because of the march. This was not an approved march and the police were simply trying to keep up. We saw one shop owner (a bridal shop) come out to yell at a police officer because her customers couldn't get in, while other customers inside were cheering us on. We could also hear a police officer radioing ahead saying that he thought the front end of the group was probably up to State and to try to get a group up there.

All in all, it was an amazing turnout and we were glad to be a part of it.

PS the black is the new gay is an SNL reference from weekend update. "Bitch is the new black" "Black is the new president" Black is the new gay fits right in and makes sense with the joke and the point they were making on the show... its not meant to be racist.

I beg to differ. I definitely know that initially they kept marchers on the sidewalk but after the turn off of Michigan avenue, we had the whole street (let me know if you desire pics to prove it)At other parts of the march we were asked to stay on one side of the street and not take over both directions. And when we turned down magnificent mile we again had the whole easter side of the street. I found the police to be quite cordial and accomodating considering there apparently was not a permit
I also saw the "black is the new gay" sign which i thought was out of taste. It reminded me of Yoko Ono's misguided statement many years ago when she said "woman is the n*gger of the world". I remember Pearl Cleage writing about what does that make black women..the "n*gger, n*gger"? I would ask the same question to the guy with the sign..what does that make black gays?
I think critical thinking is valid but lets not downplay what it was, how inspired people felt. lets focus on that for one minute rather than questioning what else people could have been supporting.

Great slideshow, Yasmin. I've loved watching all the protests around the nation the past couple of days.

Thanks, Bil. My pleasure. I have to say: the advent of the digital camera has been a boon for those of us who always thought photography was too expensive a hobby. I love the freedom of being able to run around snapping things without worrying about the cost of film.

I will say, the energy was palpable at this event. Hmmmm... now to harness that...