From across California to cities around the U.S., South Lake Tahoe was no exception when it held its own protest to the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 initiative, which was passed by Golden State voters on Nov. 4.
At least 100 people, gay and straight, couples and partners gathered at El Dorado Beach on Saturday as part of a coast-to-coast, nationwide day of protest.
"This has far-reaching affects because this is a civil rights issue," said Maggie Wattle of South Lake Tahoe who was at the demonstration. "Let's take the religious fundamentalism out of the picture. You extend the right to all or you extend the right to none."
Those who gathered said the measure discriminates against gays who wish to have the same equal rights as straight couples. California now joins 29 other states in having constitutional amendments that restrict marriage to one man and one woman.
Flanked with signs that said "equal rights for all" the Tahoe gathering generated a fair share of waves and honks of support along Highway 50. There were occasional finger gestures by motorists but all-in-all the protest was successful, said organizer Janice Eastburn.
"What we're here to say is that this is not just a gay and lesbian issue but a universal issue," Eastburn said. "This is about justice and equality for everyone and basic fairness for all Americans."
As word of the passage spread in the gay and lesbian community on Nov. 4, many were shocked to learn of the 52 to 48 percent passage, especially California, which for years has been considered a tolerant state. Many protesters cite the infusion of money for political advertising from religious groups both inside and outside of the state as a reason for its passage.
Eastburn and others believe the negative advertising and the false information that was presented to the public about gay marriage is the reason why it passed.
"There were a lot of conservative groups and religious organizations that put tons of money into the passage of Proposition 8 and unfortunately the publicity around it, the fear that the advertising generated was based on lies and disinformation," Eastburn said. "They made it out to be a religious issue. But marriage is not a religious issue. It is a right. Straight people can choose to get married in a church or not in a church but it is still a civil law and a civil right. What we're saying is that we are entitled to that same right as everyone else."
Pete and Karen Oliver of South Lake Tahoe joined the protest too. A biracial couple married since 1975, the Olivers say the objection to gay marriage makes no sense in a day and in an age where civil rights were fought for and won when it came to racial segregation and discrimination.
"I don't think anyone has a right to tell people how to live and love," said Karen Oliver. "What business is it of any one who want to be married?"
The fact that so much money was put into a gay marriage ban should also say something about priorities among the religious right, she said, saying that she calculated the amount of money spent on Proposition 8.
"If they put this same amount of money, they could have saved 360 families from having to foreclose on their homes," she said, adding that the figures is based on a home valued at $250,000 and the $90 million spent to bankroll the measure in the public domain.
"Not only this but think about all the food that could be bought for those families who are having a hard time. Think about the turkeys that could have been bought for thanksgiving meals to those who will go without," added Pete Oliver. "The priorities should be with people and helping people, not going after people because of who they love."