Protests over Proposition 8 outcome getting personal

Published: Thursday, Nov. 13 2008 12:00 a.m. MST

Supporters of gay marriage demonstrate in front of the LDS Church's Manhattan meetinghouse, which also houses a temple, in New York City on Wednesday.

Spencer Platt, Getty Images

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Supporters of Proposition 8 won the election but now are frustrated because they are still fighting for their cause.

A week after the majority of voters passed the controversial measure to ban same-sex marriage, the conflict continues — in the courts, at protests and in personal attacks.

"I'm frustrated by what's going on," said Dave Leatherby, owner of the Leatherby Family Creamery in Sacramento, commenting on the protests and court battles.

"Let's move on. I always told my children that once a rule was made, you have to abide by it. I think it should be the same in this circumstance."

Leatherby and his family donated about $20,000 for the passage of Proposition 8. A devout Catholic and father of 10, Leatherby supported the measure for religious reasons. He said his business has been targeted by bloggers as a result, and that he is particularly confused because his business has participated in the annual gay pride Rainbow Festival.

"It saddens me that all this is happening," he said.

The battle over same-sex marriage will not end anytime soon. This week, 44 state legislators filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of opponents of the gay-marriage ban. They maintain the initiative process was used improperly. The California Supreme Court could rule as early as this week on a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate Proposition 8, said court spokeswoman Lynn Holton.

Proposition 8 opponents said they will continue to fight for their civil rights.

"For them to say the voters have spoken and no one should question it is a bit disingenuous," said West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon. He cited repeated attempts to pass other initiatives. "They believe in the justice of their causes, that's why they return over and over again with the same proposal on parental notification."

Cabaldon was referring to Proposition 4, which would have required parental notification before a minor could have an abortion. It was defeated for the third time last week.

Since the election, thousands have protested on the steps of the state Capitol and in some cities at temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other sites. Gay marriage advocates said they were planning nationwide demonstrations this weekend in more than 175 cities and outside the U.S. Capitol.

Also, a fire outside an LDS church in Littleton, Colo., is being investigated as a bias-motivated arson that may have stemmed from the church's position on Proposition 8. Arapahoe County sheriff's deputies responded to the building about 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, some three hours after a church member found a burning copy of the Book of Mormon on a doorstep. No damage to the church was reported.

Wednesday night hundreds carried protest signs in front of the LDS Church's Manhattan meetinghouse, which also houses a temple. Several people held signs asking, "Did you cast a ballot or a stone?" while other signs read "Love not H8."

LDS Church spokesman Michael Otterson said while citizens have the right to protest, he was "puzzled" and "disturbed" by the gathering given that the majority of California's voters had approved the amendment.

"Protesting is a time-honored American tradition," said Ned Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference. Catholic leaders were active in the "Yes on 8" campaign. "But it's unfortunate when it steps over into religious bigotry or harassment."

Some Proposition 8 supporters say a minority of protesters have gone too far by targeting individuals. Opponents of the measure have called for a boycott of the California Musical Theatre after revelations that artistic director Scott Eckern, a member of the LDS Church, donated $1,000 to the "Yes on 8" Campaign.

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