San Diego marriage equality sit-in

September 2, 2010

SAN DIEGO--Nine activists were arrested on the morning of August 19 as part of a sit-in after same-sex couples were denied marriage licenses at the San Diego County Administration Building.

The morning began with a challenge to county officials to honor Judge Vaughn Walker's August 4 ruling that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. Tyler and Tony Dylan-Hyde had the first marriage license appointment for the day that same-sex marriages were expected to resume after Walker's decision.

When the 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals dashed their hopes on August 16 by issuing a stay, the couple, who have been together for 15 years, decided to proceed with their plans under the conviction that the 9th District ruling didn't prevent the issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and that the county was honor-bound to uphold the California constitution, issue the licenses and perform the marriage ceremony.

However, when the Dylan-Hydes arrived at the office, they were blocked from entering the room where marriage licenses are issued. When it became clear that County Clerk David Butler was not going to honor their appointment, let alone allow them to fill out the paperwork for a license, 10 activists sat in front of the doors to the marriage license office chanting, "David Butler, do the right thing!" and "No equality? No business as usual!" along with 40 other marriage equality supporters.

Despite the fact that several couples did indeed get married that day, three people were arrested about an hour after the protest began. Approximately half an hour later, 50 county sheriffs in riot gear barreled down the hallway in an amazing display of government waste to arrest the remaining six protesters--including Michael Anderson and Brian Baumgardner, who were also denied licenses that day.

The protest, which was organized by the San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality, didn't end there. As the arrestees were led out of the building in handcuffs, a crowd of supporters stood in front of the sheriff's bus, chanting, "Civil rights heroes! Let them go!" An emergency rally was held at 5 p.m. that day at the downtown jail demanding the release of newly dubbed "Equality Nine."

The activists were released later that same day.

More public pressure will be needed in the lead-up to a December 6 hearing where Prop 8 could be struck down once again. The 9th District's stay proves that there are no guarantees on the road to equality, and at each turn, activists must make it known that there will be resistance until we achieve full LGBT equality in all matters governed by law in all 50 states.

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