I joined yesterday's protest in San Francisco against the passage of proposition 8. I'd like to be able to say that I went only because I am outraged about counterproductive discrimination based on superstition. But the truth is I also had a selfish reason to be there: I wanted to see creative protest signs.
Attitudes toward political opponents
Drawing historical parallels
Many signs drew parallels to civil rights movements of previous generations: separate is never equal, I can't believe we still have to protest this crap.
The most direct parallels involved laws against interracial marriage. One sign quoted Loving v Virginia, the supreme court case that overturned miscegenation laws: "Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man". An especially touching sign read: I would not be here were it not for the courts legalizing interracial marriage.
One of the marching chants also evoked these parallels: "Gay, straight, black, white; marriage is a civil right!". (The parallel here isn't perfect: Loving allowed black people to marry white people, but we're not exactly fighting to allow gay people to marry straight people ;))
Attitudes toward religion
But equally numerous were signs that drew on religion to argue for equality: All love is sacred, What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder, We are married by the power and in the presence of God.
Some protestors avoided bashing religion, and asked only for the separation of church and state: State/church shirt, Not your sacrament, just our civil right. If I had made a sign, I might have written: "Say what you will about 'holy matrimony', but 'marriage' belongs to all of us."
Humorous and strange signs
After a few hours at civic center park, many of us marched three miles to fisherman's wharf, chanting various slogans. One frequent chant was "Separate! Church and state!" Chants were even used to direct the march: "Right on Lombard!"
Our most frequent chant revealed grammatical disagreement: "What do we want? Equal rights! When do we want ___? Now!". This was a call-and-response chant: only one person would yell the questions, while the crowd would yell the answers. Some callers yelled "it", but others yelled "them" or "'em".
The climax of the protest came as we marched through a tunnel. The sign above the tunnel entrance, "Quiet through tunnel", hinted as to what might happen once we entered. We did not obey this sign.