FAGS marks Prop. 8 with non-wedding

Nate Hipple
City Times

Members of the Fellowship of Associated Gay Students and Straight Allies (FAGS) staged a non-wedding March 5 in the Gorton Quad.

The ceremony coincided with the California Supreme Court’s hearings on whether or not Proposition 8, which banned gay marriages last November, was unconstitutional.

The non-wedding was decorated with all the pomp one might expect from a same-sex marriage: The rainbow flag whipping in the breeze, a ROYGBIV of balloons and streamers, two sections of folding chairs with an aisle down the middle.

But those chairs were empty. And there was no minister to perform the rite.

What happened to the duos of brides and the pairs of grooms? Where were all the wedding guests?

FAGS members posted bulletins at the demonstration to explain:

“Sorry for the inconvenience, but due to marriage not being equal in California, this wedding has been cancelled.”

According to Jason Fry, the president of FAGS, the non-wedding was “meant to make us feel the absence,” he said. “It’s about how our right to marry was taken away.”

Despite the absence, a recording of Pachelbel’s Canon in D major (a traditional wedding song) was being played at this anything-but-traditional wedding ceremony.

Frye sliced a column of triple-chocolate cake as the third violin of the Canon began to resonate through the quad.

“I hope they’re gonna overturn Prop. 8,” he said over the somber music. “But for those satisfied with inequality,” he grinned, “let them eat cake.”

Prop. 8 eliminates same-sex couple’s rights to marry. The law, 14 words in length, states: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

Supporters of Prop. 8 praise the California law for upholding a time-honored view of traditional marriage: an institution reserved for a man and a woman only.

Such a view is promoted on the Web site www.nogaymarriage.com, which also stated: “We need the Marriage Protection Amendment … to keep activist judges from forcing their view of marriage on every American.”

Jason Fry, on the other hand, described Prop. 8 as “the greatest form of tyranny in our secular nation,” and compared the law’s effect to religious discrimination.

Spontaneously, two students at the FAGS demonstration decided to perform the ritual of the “first dance” in lieu of newlyweds. Pachelbel’s Canon bounced sonorously off the walls of the cafeteria and could be heard as far as the B Street bridge.

Proposition 8 received heavy media attention in 2008 when the gay marriage debate was picked up by well-recognized public figures.

Senator John McCain, for example, was one of Prop. 8’s most famous supporters. McCain released a video to endorse the proposition, which was passed with 52 percent of the California vote in the general election in November.

The backlash drew, among others, Whoopi Goldberg, who was spotted in a rally in New York City.

Goldberg, who washed dishes in San Diego’s Big Kitchen before becoming a Hollywood star, was photographed holding a sign that read: “FOR MY FRIENDS EQUAL RIGHTS.”

McCain’s video and Golberg’s poster help to illustrate the high-profile nature of the Prop 8 debate. This was a deeply contested issue from both sides.

Last Thursday, this debate spread over the glass walls of the City College cafeteria, where FAGS members had taped blank poster boards. “This is our Free Speech Wall,” said Frye, pointing to the blank posters, which served as the second-half of the demonstration.

Blas Castro, a member of the FAGS organization, gripped a handful of permanent markers and invited anyone who passed by to scrawl a message on the wall. Dozens of students eagerly took pens and wrote messages, which could be seen by anyone in the Gorton Quad.

As Pachelbel’s wedding song simplified, nearing its end, Castro remarked, “I believe equality is for everyone. That is truly American.”

While California awaited the state Supreme Court’s decision, City College scholars gathered afterward to read the comments of their classmates, which were tagged to the cafeteria wall like a life-sized Myspace page.

An anonymous student wrote “One Love,” the title of the Bob Marley reggae classic.

Another student wrote “One Man One Woman,” a slogan displayed prominently on yellow bumper stickers back in 2008. A Google search of “one man one woman” redirects to nogaymarriage.com on the first hit.

Another student wrote “I KISSED A GIRL AND I LIKED IT,” the title of the chart-topping song by Katy Perry, which raised controversy due to the bisexual nature of the song’s theme.

Another student wrote: “Regardless of whether you think gay marriage is right or wrong, do you want to give the government the authority over your personal lives?”

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FAGS marks Prop. 8 with non-wedding