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Gay protesters march against GOP in NYC

Demonstrators assail Bush policies on marriage, AIDS


Friday, September 03, 2004

NEW YORK — Among the hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating against President Bush and the Republican National Convention on a sunny Sunday afternoon on Aug. 29 were about 1,000 protesters from the ad hoc group Gays Against Bush.

“This [election] is more important than anything,” said GAB organizer Gilbert Baker, 53, of Harlem. “It’s imperative that gay people register and vote. I think we could actually turn the election.”

Most media accounts of Sunday’s demonstrations said at least 500,000 people took to the streets to protest the Bush administration. Through Wednesday, about 1,700 people had been arrested, many of them carrying out acts of non-violent civil disobedience.

While there were some acts of violence reported, including a police officer who was injured Monday night, most of the protests were non-violent.

DontAmend.com, a Web site fighting the constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, sent its national action coordinator, Andy Thayer, from Chicago to participate. Thayer also protested at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in July.

“Both of these presidential candidates are against our equal rights,” he said. “We think that we have to take the politicians on regardless of party if they are opposed to our equality.”

He argued that gay Democrats have given Kerry a “pass” on gay issues in hopes of winning the presidency. He said lack of action against the Democratic nominee is what led to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

“Progressive people took a pass on putting pressure on the president because they mistakenly thought they would have a friend in the White House,” Thayer said.

While all of the marchers were earnest in their opposition to Bush’s policies about everything from the war in Iraq to the environment, many kept their messages fun and light.

Campy sensibility seen

Jeffrey Marx, 27, of Hell’s Kitchen, held a two-sided sign that read “Bush sucks” and “What a drag.” The latter message had a photo of Bush made over, complete with hot pink lipstick and blue eye shadow.

Liz Maher, 29, of Ft. Green in Brooklyn, was one of many women who riffed on the president’s last name. Her placard read “Shave your pussies, no Bush in ’05.”

In timely fashion, just moments before Gays Against Bush joined the larger crowd in Chelsea, the Glamericans arrived, arrayed in Church Lady drag.

“Our motto is, we’ll do whatever it takes,” Glamericans organizer Erik Mercer said. “Blood, sweater and glitter, marching in high heels, unnatural fibers — whatever we can do.”

Other protesters echoed Mercer’s sentiments.

“I don’t think we’re going to have any effect on the Republicans,” Maher said. “They don’t listen. That’s the whole point. I hope the rest of the world sees we don’t support this administration.”

Just after a loud cheer was let out by the crowd up and down Seventh Avenue marking the commencement of the march at noon, a small group of gay protesters made their way to Bryant Park, where New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was co-hosting “The Big Tent Event” with Log Cabin Republicans, welcoming gay delegates to New York City.

Steve Weinstein contributed to this story.


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