Gay activists rally outside Mormon temple in NYC
NEW YORK - Carrying signs reading "Love not H8" and "Did you cast a ballot or a stone?", a large crowd of gay-marriage supporters gathered outside a Mormon temple to protest the church's endorsement of a same-sex marriage ban in California.
The rally Wednesday night outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple came hours after gay couples exchanged vows for the first time in Connecticut amid cheers and tears of joy.
The milestone did not ease the sting of a major loss for gay-marriage supporters last week. Gay activists planned protests across the country over the vote that took away their right to wed in California.
In the Upper West Side of Manhattan, demonstrators chanted "Shame on you!" outside the temple. Leaders of the Mormon church had encouraged members to support passage of California's Proposition 8, a referendum banning same-sex marriage.
"I'm fed up and disgusted with religious institutions taking political stances and calling them moral when it's nothing but politics," said Dennis Williams, 36.
"Meanwhile they enjoy tax-free status while trying to deny me rights that should be mine at the state and federal level."
Church spokesman Michael Otterson said that while citizens have the right to protest, he was "puzzled" and "disturbed" by the gathering since the majority of California's voters had approved the amendment.
"This was a very broad-based coalition that defended traditional marriage in a free and democratic election," Otterson said, referring to the numerous religious and social conservative groups that sponsored Proposition 8.
Organizers of the rally estimated at least 10,000 people participated. Police said they could not give a crowd estimate.
Gay-marriage advocates said they were planning nationwide demonstrations this weekend in more than 175 cities and outside the U.S. Capitol. A Seattle blogger was trying to organize simultaneous protests outside statehouses and city halls in every state Saturday.