Last week, Out4Immigration collaborated with GetEQUAL and Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) on our first effort to lead a protest in front of the Nob Hill Masonic Center in San Francsico, where President Obama was holding a fundraiser for his 2012 Presidential Campaign.
The event was pulled together within a week with Heather Cronk & Dennis Veite of Get EQUAL and Erik Schnabel of Out4Immigration. We had no expectations of how big or how small the turnout might be but we felt that with the recent roller coaster ride that the Obama administration put us through (see previous posts about USCIS abeyance policy), it was time to step up and remind the President of his campaign promises and that our families are still being torn apart due to the unfair immigration laws and unfair treatment under federal laws.
As with all events that involve the President or any Congressional representatives, there is always the small chance that the event might be rescheduled or canceled. And after a week of careful planning, that is exactly what happened. We got word on the morning of our protest that the President’s schedule had changed and he would not arrive at the Masonic until 8:30pm (an hour and half later than planned). We did our best to notify everyone through Facebook and press release that the time of our action had changed. This is not easy, since we’re an all grassroots group of volunteers, but we got the message out and people helped us spread the word.
Dennis, Erik and myself were outside Grace Cathedral, just opposite from the Masonic Center at around 6pm. We were located between ANSWER and Code Pink. We had our banners out in front of the barricades with the tagline “Stop Deporting Our Partners!” and were gathered there waiting for more people to show up.
Stephen Zollman was one of the first people to show up. He came wearing an Out4Immigration t-shirt. He had two tickets to the event and asked if one of us would like to go inside. We agreed Dennis should go – Stephen would wear the O4I shirt and Dennis would bring a sign that said "Equality Rights for All". We weren’t sure they’d get in with the t-shirt and the sign but they were going to try.
Around 7pm, Ms C (she prefers not to be identified) showed up in an orange jumpsuit with 2 signs that says “My crime is LOVE” and “My spouse is A-BROAD”. She was followed by Dave, who is separated from his partner who is unable to get a visa to come into this country. Dave also brought a sign that says “Support UAFA!” A few others soon joined us as well.
The signs, our t-shirts and the banner attracted a lot of attention from other groups and onlookers. There were a lot of people who took photographs of the signs with some asking for more information. While waiting for more people to arrive, we used the time to get to know each other more and share our stories.
ANSWER, the anti-war group that had the biggest contingent there set up a sound system and had a group of speakers ready to speak about their issues and their causes. At the end of that group of speakers, they started to reach out to the other organizations and approached us. Just as I walked up to the microphone and spoke, Obama's motorcade arrived and stopped in front of Masonic Center.
I used the opportunity as the final speaker to speak about why we were there. We were there because it was time for President Obama to act. We need him to demand that Congress finally pass the United American Families Act! We need him to urge Secretary Napolitano to reverse the policy of abeyance so that families facing deportation will not be deported and green card applications will not be denied since his administration has decided that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional! We also need him to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform that includes LGBT Families! We need him to do this because families are needlessly torn apart and broken up and we need action now.
I hope President Obama as he headed into the auditorium heard what I said. I hope that as his motorcade drove past us, he saw the banner that said "Stop Deporting Our Partners!" and I hope he takes action now.
This was a good first effort by us and we are grateful for the support of GetEQUAL and MEUSA –we could not have done this without them. Both groups are willing to work with us again, so if you would like to help us be part of more actions like this in the future, please let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.