Seattle’s Response to Prop 8/DOMA: ‘Going to the Chapel’

Photo: Malcolm Griffes

Photo: Malcolm Griffes

By Malcolm Griffes

Hundreds of joyous and jovial couples and their friends celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling on Proposition 8 and DOMA on Wednesday evening before the U.S. Court of Appeals in downtown Seattle. The crowd was bright with red clothing to symbolize support for marriage equality. Children waved rainbow flags. And a hand- painted sign featuring Bert and Ernie read “Love lasts” and flew high above the throng.  As the crowd grew, the song “Going to the Chapel” began to play through speakers at the top of the stairs. The grey clouds cleared and sunlight illuminated the already luminous crowd.

Doug Hamilton, operations director for Equal Rights Washington, a co-organizer of the event, said, “This is an extraordinarily joyous occasion and a victory for couples in the state of Washington.

“Equal Rights Washington is tremendously thankful to the community. This is a milestone,” he added.

The event was formally called Seattle Response to Supreme Court 8/ DOMA. It was organized by Social Outreach Seattle, with help from many co-organizers such as the American Civil Liberties Union in addition to Equal Rights Washington.  The public Facebook invitation read: “If the Supreme Court rules in favor of DOMA, we will peacefully protest. If the Supreme Court rules that DOMA is an unconstitutional overreach of the federal government, we will celebrate.” We celebrated.

Some cried, some hugged, all appeared to be overcome with happiness and a sense of community. One couple had giant red matching umbrellas with handmade notes on the top that read in big letters when placed side by side on the ground, “Love Wins.” Another couple dressed in matching red suits complete with red leather shoes.

A number of people took the microphone. The first speaker began by joking, “It’s been one hour since the Supreme Court ruling and the sky has not fallen.”

Between technical difficulties and the roar of the crowd, not everyone’s speech was easily heard. This did not dampen the mood, however. Things coalesced when the final speaker, Chase Silva, beautifully led the crowd in “The Star Spangled Banner.”

State senator and 2013 mayoral candidate Ed Murray delivered a moving speech, saying, “The scourge of DOMA is gone. Justice for one family is justice for all families.”

Murray noted that the struggle still continues: “This is the side of the mountain, not the top.”

His sentiment was echoed by Dan Savage, columnist with The Stranger, who wrote on the Slog:  “DOMA has been struck down but that doesn’t ensure equal benefits for all same-sex married couples. Because federal agencies use different standards to determine who is married—some use a ‘place of residence’ standard and others use a ‘place of celebration’ standard—many SSM couples who are married in one state but residing in a state where same-sex marriage is prohibited won’t be eligible for many federal benefits.”

To sign a petition asking President Obama to sign an executive order that would squash this loophole, go to this link.

For more information on Social Outreach Seattle, visit: Social Outreach Seattle. For more information on Equal Rights Washington visit: Equal Rights Washington.

Malcolm Griffes is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.