Preserve Marriage Washington, the organization trying to block gay marriage in Washington State, organized another awkward midweek rally at Pratt Park on 19th Avenue and Yesler Street, in the Central District.
I arrived at 11:30 to find a handful of pastors with red Reject 74 lapel pins on, wrapping cables and packing up the event. Two or three green "Approve Ref 74" signs bobbed at the fringes of the park, and some kids squealed from the playground on the far side. The 10:30 A.M. rally, which apparently did not last even an hour, targeted communities of color and featured an African American pastor. Sources at the rally say the audience was primarily elderly Asian-Americans. Pastors rattled off predictable, debunked anti-gay talking points—that gays are taking away their rights, that bathrooms will have to be unisex after that law is put in place—to a crowd of about 70 people.
This rally was organized by Pastor Randy Leskovar and Pastor Victor Langford, two of the religious leaders who spoke at last week's poorly publicized Reject 74 rally. "This is a rally to share our commitment with communities of color to reject R-74," said Pastor Langford, who estimated the crowd to be about 150 people. After looking at documentation of the event there's no way they had half that number, though.
Pastor Langford repeated more of the familiar Reject talking points: "Marriage is the union of a man and a woman since the beginning of time. [Gays] aren't gaining any legal rights, they already have domestic partnerships. This isn't just about them, it affects everyone when they change the definition of marriage." Snap. It must be Halloween with all these scare tactics.
Counter-protestors rushed over to the park, but many showed up after the rally was already over. Austin Anderson, who lives across the street, scrambled to get home when he got word of the rally. "To have this happen across the street from where I live is a slap in the face," he said. Anderson is planning to marry his fiancé, Jared, if R-74 passes. "I think [Preserve Marriage Washington] is reaching out to the black religious community here and hoping church folks will come out against it," he added.