Today's guest post come from Annette Gross, PFLAG state coordinator for Indiana and board member of PFLAG Indianapolis.
This past Monday, July 26th, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) came to Indianapolis and held a Rally to “protect” marriage. Prior to the Rally, I was contacted by “Freedom to Marry” – a gay rights organization – and asked to help put together an anti-rally. So PFLAG, together with Indiana Equality and Stonewall Democrats, contacted the GLBT community as well as straight allies through Facebook. In addition to the anti-rally, we decided that we wanted to do something of a positive nature, so PFLAG hosted the showing of “Out in the Silence” that evening. My husband got on the bandwagon and helped me make a sign. We bought stick-on letters and he even made a handle out of wood.
I decided to take the bus downtown. I wasn’t sure if I could get on the bus with my sign, but the bus driver did not comment on it. So off I went to the Statehouse, with my sign. When I got there, I was pleasantly surprised to see a group of over 100 protesters. No sooner did I arrive when a policewoman told me I could not use my sign with the handle. Apparently she thought I might use the wood to hit someone from NOM over the head. That thought never occurred to me, but I did as she asked. I had to take the handle off. A nice young man pulled it off for me, and I tucked it in my bag.
As I was standing with our group, more people kept arriving. As I would later find out, we numbered almost 250 people! That is compared to the 40-50 people that NOM had. The Rally began at 12:00 noon. One of our goals was to drown out the speakers from NOM. We marched from the south side of the Statehouse to the steps, where NOM people were speaking. I didn’t really get to hear what they said because we were chanting so loud. I do know that Maggie Gallagher, president of NOM, was speaking. I didn’t find out what she said until I got home and read her interview on Bilerico.
I have to say we were a polite crowd. There was hardly any physical contact - however, one NOM person did hit a protester in the stomach (she did not press charges). We were told that we had to stay on the sidewalk and leave a path for pedestrians. Eventually, we did climb the Statehouse steps and were marching right in front of the NOM people. I saw one young man on our side almost get into the face of a NOM person, but his friend pulled him away so he wouldn’t get in trouble with the police. The Rally ended a little before 1:00. At that point, many of the protesters posed in front of NOM’s bus to have their picture taken. I declined to go over there.
Later that day, PFLAG hosted the film “Out in the Silence”. I didn’t know how many people would show up and I was a bit nervous. I was hoping for at least 20 people. Much to my surprise, over 50 people came to see the film. Many people came up to me to thank PFLAG for showing the film. So I would say we had two successes that day.
A day after the Rally, I read that NOM went to Madison, Wisconsin for another Rally. I think they had a bad taste in their mouths from their experience here in Indianapolis, because they had the police put yellow tape around the area where they were speaking, so no protesters could get close to them. They must have felt somewhat threatened by the Indy protesters.
I believe that these people are speaking out against gay marriage out of fear. Their status-quo is being threatened and they can’t handle it. It was noted that one of NOM’s signs said “the solution to gay marriage” and underneath that a picture of 2 nooses. That’s pretty scary stuff. We have to speak out whenever we encounter hatred such as this. I am proud that I was able to represent PFLAG and take part in this protest. Hopefully one day equality will prevail and we will not have to protest at a Rally such as this.