August 5, 2010
By Arisha Michelle Hatch
We’re in the St. Louis area today, the “Gateway to the West” (specifically, the event is in Clayton). It’s an evening NOM event, and we came expecting a doozy given yesterday’s news.
So far, 118 equality activists are lining the streets in front of the county courthouse and cheering at each honking car that passes.
Showmenohate, a local grassroots organization that formed two years ago in response to the passage of Prop 8 led the mobilization effort in partnership with PROMO, a statewide LGBT equality organization in Missouri, is here.
Five police officers stand between the long line of equality activists and the courtyard where NOM is set to host its rally. We’re told by sources on the ground that Clayton police officers have been friendly and cooperative; nevertheless, Anthony, Phyllis and I have each been approached twice by one particular female officer with different stories. Anthony and Phyllis were both told separately that we were not allowed into the courtyard – that it wasn’t clear if NOM will be doing interviews today. The second time I was approached, she told me to stay in this section, when I pushed back and asked whether we’d be allowed to film once the rally started she said “for now you must stand in this area.”
We’ll take that as a yes for now.
FOX News is here interviewing equality supporters; first a transgender woman, then a Reverend from Faith Aloud.
We’re also told by sources that NOM had quite some trouble securing a permit here; apparently no one wants them in their town.
UPDATE BY ARISHA (4:30 PST): NOM has chosen to block NOMTourTracker.com from its event. So far, FOX News is being allowed in, while NOMTourTracker.com and one other gay lifestyle magazine are being kept out. The magazine was asked to submit its questions to NOM before being denied entry. NOM is apparently renting the space and the female police officer (pictured below) keeps telling us it’s a “private party” (remember those permitting issues that I mentioned?).
We count 35 NOM rally attendees from afar, and we’re now up to 214 equality supporters.
UPDATE BY ADAM (4:38 PST): Some photos are rolling in from Phyllis. Here’s the spot from where our Tracker team is being permitted to observe:
Wow. They are really losing it. What are they afraid of?
Photos of equality supporters at or near the event:
UPDATE BY ADAM (4:44 PST): OK, now this is really becoming outrageous.
Below are Steve Houldworth and Graham Matthews.
They RSVPed to the NOM rally via Facebook.
When they showed up, they were not allowed in. When they asked why, they were told it’s because they are holding hands.
UPDATE BY ARISHA (4:49 PST): As my grandmother used to say, “it ain’t gonna happen, kids.”
NOM will not let us in to their private party today (or, apparently, gay couples). We’ve tried every angle. Brian Brown could be saying something profound and tolerant right at this very moment, and we won’t get to hear it.
Each of us has separately asked almost every officer in sight (looking for security cracks). I personally offered to surrender all recording devices, take off my press pass and attend as a private citizen. I pulled the “I-am-not-a-lesbian” card. Denied. I’m not a part of their group, the officer told me.
“How are you identifying who is a part of their group?” I asked.
The officer looked at me, said nothing.
“Is there a list? A paper invitation? A secret password?”
“Do you know the password,” the officer quipped. “You’re not in their group.”
“I’m a member of their Facebook group, does that count?”
Today, we found at something we already knew – NOM’s definitely got discriminating taste.
No worries. Brian’s got to come out to the bus (parked on a public sidewalk) sometime. He can’t hide out at this exclusive event forever.
We’ll be waiting (patiently) because based on NOM’s response to the Prop 8 verdict, they’ve definitely got lots to say.
UPDATE BY ARISHA (5:20 PST): I wish that I were quick-witted enough to come up with an acronym describing how difficult it is for a gay person to enter a NOM rally (I’m sure our Tracker commenters will be better at that anyway), because there is some serious gay-profiling going on.
Two men holding hands (presumably gay) attempted to cross the blockade with their iPhone Facebook invite in hand, but were told they weren’t on “the list”.
The two men approached the ACLU observer and asked why they couldn’t go in despite their RSVP.
“It looks like you’ve been disinvited.”
The officers have been told to ask people questions to feel out if they’re a part of “the group.”
As NOM supporters leave we’re asking what the secret password is.
One NOM supporter -offended that we were denied access- approached the officer on our behalf.
“I was sitting here with my son and we just walked right in,” she said.
UPDATE BY ADAM (5:28 PST): In the comments, the question was put forth on whether this was a private or public space. The Tracking team is telling me it is on a grassy area between the St. Louis County Courthouse and one of the revenue buildings- e.g., a public space- near the intersection of South Central Avenue and Carondelet Avenue (approximate location here). But the area is surrounding with police blocking entrance.
UPDATE BY ADAM (7:44 PST): Arisha and the team talked to Brian after the rally, but video won’t be available until tomorrow. Be sure to check back in for what he said after tonight’s goings-on.
One last thing I wanted to note for the night, though. Guess where the NOM folks ended up going after the rally:
I bet they couldn’t help themselves, given the Target/Best Buy nationwide call to boycott from many parts of the LGBT and allied community following the donation of $150,000 to MN Forward, which is supporting Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who is anti-marriage equality. Classy.
This will be the last update for the evening. Be sure to check for video of Brian tomorrow.