Local opponents of this week’s Proposition 8 ruling that effectively outlawed same-sex marriage will gather tonight to march down Broadway, according to a press release from The Gay and Lesbian Center of Long Beach (and half-a-dozen phone calls and e-mails we received last night).  The march will begin at 7:00pm tonight on Broadway & Redondo, and continue down Broadway until ending at Alamitos.  Several speakers will address the crowd at the end of the march.

Long Beach City Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal issued a statement in support of the march at 3:30pm, Friday afternoon:

I support tonight’s protest of Proposition 8’s passage.  Although the basic right of marriage was denied of loving couples in our community, the right to gather and speak out against unjust laws that perpetuate prejudice and second-class citizenship must never be compromised.  In order for our society to truly prosper and evolve, we must be willing to look past our personal differences and learn to value our shared dreams – in this case, marriage between two loving individuals.

The idea was apparently sparked by a young man named Tom Crowe, whose text messages about demonstrating against Proposition 8 in Long Beach spread through the LGBT community until The Center caught wind of it.  Community leaders and local law enforcement have met to ensure that the march will remain peaceful.

“This was difficult to do under such short notice, but everyone knows how important this is,” said Kim Woods, Executive Director of The Center.  “The overwhelming response is not surprising.  People are tired of being relegated to the back of the bus.”

Similar demonstrations against Prop 8 have been witnessed throughout the Southland since its passage.

Proposition 8 was a hotly-contested statewide measure that passed with a 52.5% majority on Tuesday, changing the California constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.  The state of some 16,000 same-sex couples that have married since May is uncertain.  Long Beach has been a battleground for the issue, as evidenced by this large rally last weekend and a recent lbpost.com story about Prop 8’s passage that has so far drawn 39 reader comments.

The Center has provided service to Long Beach’s LGBT community since 1980, helping approximately 21,000 clients annually.

By Ryan ZumMallen, Managing Editor