The sign on the door of Capitol Hill's 12th Ave. and Pine St. Richmark Printing building was obviously last-minute, scribbled in marker on a scrap of paper and taped to the glass. But it was straight to the point: The "Outrage Meeting," the sign announced, was being held inside, down the hall.

In a stuffy, windowless room at the back of the building, a dozen outraged gay activists sat around a conference room to plot strategy. "We've got to get something going tonight," declared a clearly irritated Michael McAfoose at the April 22 meeting, taking notes from his seat at the head of the table. "We're under attack." McAfoose's cohorts, representatives of gay groups like SEAMEC and the Greater Seattle Business Association, nodded gravely in agreement.

On Saturday, May 1, thousands of people are expected at Safeco Field for an afternoon of ultraconservative anti-gay-marriage rallying. For weeks, the event--called "Mayday for Marriage"--has been promoted from pulpits around Washington State and from conservative websites (like the Christian Coalition's). "We will not stand idly by while our society attempts to distort God's meaning of marriage," says a press release issued by Ken Hutcherson, head of Antioch Bible Church and lead organizer of the rally. The keynote speaker, Focus on the Family leader James Dobson, will fire up folks who are planning to bus to Seattle from churches across the state. Dobson is known for his doomsday predictions that legalizing gay marriage will lead to things like polygamy and "a chaotic family environment that will be devastating to children."

That impending anti-gay contingent just contributed to the outrage at McAfoose's meeting. The ad hoc group, pulled together in the previous 48 hours, was also mad that there's no organized leadership in Seattle's gay community equipped to respond to an event like Mayday. "We should have a statewide organization also bussing people in from all over the state," McAfoose complained after the meeting. "We've got very well-organized right-wing people headed to Seattle, and we've had no response whatsoever."

McAfoose, a young guy who works for Gay Community Social Services at the Seattle LGBT Community Center--he's also involved with a group trying to finally launch a statewide nonprofit to fight for marriage rights (tentatively dubbed Discrimination Free Washington)--took matters into his own hands last week, in near desperation. Once he finally heard about the Mayday event (news finally trickled in to the gay community early last week, and The Stranger broke the story on April 22), he immediately called on other gay activists, like Bill Dubay, to help him quickly plan a grassroots counterprotest.

The small group brainstormed on how to draw at least a few thousand people to protest Dobson's crew (which could be as big as 10,000 or 20,000 people). They decided to advertise with fliers all over town, calling on people to "knock bigotry out of the ballpark" by meeting near Safeco Field at 10:30 a.m. --as the "Mayday" attendees are filtering into the stadium--to pick up signs and protest around Safeco's entrances. Though the group would like to sneak a few folks into the ballpark to protest closer to the action, the real point is to balance out the anti-gay-marriage rhetoric. McAfoose's group won't be able to stop the Mayday rally, but it only takes a few counterprotesters to get on TV news, offering their own marriage-rights message. "What we want out of this is visibility," says Dubay, who's been heading up marriage-rights rallies in Seattle since a Valentine's Day event at Westlake Center. "This is for the media."

The counterprotest organizers are hopeful that plenty of people will turn out at Safeco to bolster their message, but, given the last-minute planning, they're realistic. It's unlikely the counterprotest will outnumber the well-organized "traditional marriage" troops. Simply getting people to stop by Safeco Field on Saturday morning will be a challenge: The last-minute counterprotest is competing with other long-planned lefty May 1 events, notably the legislative district caucuses, which half of the people at McAfoose's planning meeting were committed to attending as delegates (many plan to call on their alternates), and a labor march from Capitol Hill to downtown. And there are other, more obvious roadblocks: The organizers have no money, and they've only got a few more days to spread the word.

The challenge is obviously wearing on McAfoose and other volunteers, who were divvying up the city on Monday to poster as many telephone poles as possible on such short notice. "This can never, never, never happen again," McAfoose says, frustrated that a small group had to shoulder the responsibility of responding to Mayday.