Westside Snarled as Protests Hit Wilshire

Gaymarriage_2Thousands of No on 8 protesters shut down rush-hour routes following a demonstration at the Mormon Temple in West Los Angeles.

“It is a travesty that the Mormon Church bought this election and used a campaign of lies and deception to manipulate voters in the great state of California,” said Lorri Jean of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. “Today we will send a message to President Monson that we will not tolerate being stripped of our equal rights in the name of religious bigotry. They’re entitled to their beliefs, but not to impose them upon the constitution or laws of California. Let’s flood the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City with postcards.”

Some protesters chanted, “One wife only,” and others shouted “Shame!”

A spokesman for the Mormon Church told reporters that the church as an institution did not give monetary contributions to the Yes on 8 campaign, although it did speak in favor of the initiative.

“It’s a civics 101 lesson. Churches by law are allowed to speak on moral issues,” spokeswoman Kim Farah said, per KNBC. “It does not jeopardized the church’s tax- exemption status and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous.”

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The Church, in a written statement on its Web site had this to say: “Allegations of bigotry or persecution made against the Church were and are simply wrong. The issue for the Church has always been about the sacred and divine institution of marriage — a union between a man and a woman. While the Church does not endorse candidates or platforms, it does reserve the right to speak out on important issues.”

Shortly after 5 p.m., demonstrators marched east down one side of Wilshire Boulevard in Westwood, an artery normally clogged with rush-hour commuters. Earlier in the afternoon, police apprehended several unruly demonstrators, including one who had jumped on the top of a car.

Live coverage here.

Rick Jacobs of the Courage Campaign writes about some of the problems with the No on 8 campaign here.

And Greg Hernandez of Out in Hollywood blogs about last night here and today’s demonstrations here.

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Update:
The protest has returned to the Mormon Temple, and demonstrators are now standing on walls on the edge of church grounds waving flags.

Update 2: Protests continued into the evening. Two people were arrested after a confrontation between the crowd and an
occupant of a pickup truck that had a banner supporting Proposition 8,
the ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage. Yes on 8 strategist Jeff Flint condemns “Mormon-bashing” and cites  an ad made by Jacobs’ Courage Campaign, below. Veteran gay journalist Karen Ocamb headlines her story for In Los Angeles: “A new era of activism is born.”

Photos: AP, Karen Ocamb

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