BOSTON — Gay rights supporters waving rainbow colors marched, chanted and danced in cities coast to coast Saturday to protest the vote that banned gay marriage in California and to urge supporters not to quit the fight for the right to wed.
Crowds gathered near public buildings in cities large and small, including Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and Fargo, N.D., to vent their frustrations, celebrate gay relationships and renew calls for change.
"Civil marriages are a civil right, and we're going to keep fighting until we get the rights we deserve as American citizens," Karen Amico said in Philadelphia, holding up a sign reading "Don't Spread H8."
"We are the American family, we live next door to you, we teach your children, we take care of your elderly," said Heather Baker, a special education teacher from Boston who addressed the crowd at Boston's City Hall Plaza. "We need equal rights across the country."
Connecticut, which began same sex weddings last week, and Massachusetts are the only two states that allow gay marriage. Thirty states ban the practice, but a handful allow civil unions or domestic partnerships that grant some rights of marriage.
Some protests following the vote on Proposition 8 in California, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, have been angry, and demonstrators have targeted faiths that supported the ban, including the Mormon church.
However, representatives of Join the Impact, which organized Saturday's protests, asked supporters to be respectful and refrain from attacking other groups during the rallies.
Seattle blogger Amy Balliett, who started planning for the protests when she set up a Web page three days after the California vote, said persuasion is impossible without civility. "If we can move anybody past anger and have a respectful conversation, then you can plant the seed of change."
The protests were widely reported to be peaceful, and the mood in Boston was generally upbeat, with attendees dancing to the song Respect. Signs cast the fight for gay marriage as the new civil rights movement, including one that read "Gay is the new black."
But anger over the ban and its backers was evident at the protests. One sign in Chicago read: "Catholic Fascists Stay Out of Politics."
In San Francisco, demonstrators took shots at some religious groups that supported the ban, including a sign aimed at the Mormon church and its abandoned practice of polygamy that read: "You have three wives; I want one husband."
Chris Norberg, who married his partner in June, said racial divisions arose after exit polls found that majorities of blacks and Hispanics supported the ban on same sex marriage: "They voted against us."