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Prop 8 rally wreaks Westside traffic havoc

November 6, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The fight over Proposition 8 has poured back into the streets. Hundreds of opponents have taken their message of equality directly to one of the largest backers of the controversial measure. Demonstrators took aim at the massive Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Westwood. Protest organizers allege that the Mormon church supplied more than $15 million to help get Prop 8 passed in California.

Thursday evening the crowd was estimated between 300 and 600 people. Protestors walked westbound on Century City West on the way back to the Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Westwood. The crowd has dispersed slightly, easing traffic on Santa Monica Blvd.

Thursday evening, crowds has been marched past the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, heading eastbound on Wilshire Blvd. Wilshire was backed up for miles back to the 405 Freeway. Protestors then transitioned to eastbound Santa Monica Blvd.

Santa Monica Blvd. had been closed in both directions in front of the church, just east of the intersection of Westwood Blvd. and Santa Monica Blvd. It has since been reopened.

Eastbound Wilshire Blvd. near the 405 Freeway was closed to traffic, as was Westwood Blvd. Due to the continual closing and reopening of local streets, it was unclear what current closures were.

More demonstrators had marched Thursday afternoon to the Federal Building in Westwood.

The church's financial support of Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban, has provoked protestors to demand the church's tax-exempt status be revoked for active involvement in a political issue.

A statement released by the church states the church has been focused on the principle of marriage as a divine union between man and woman. The church denies allegations of religious bigotry.

Two people have been detained by police, and at least one demonstrator complained of being punched in the face, but it was unclear by whom.

On Wednesday night, about 1,000 demonstrators marched against the state's newly approved gay marriage ban, which passed Tuesday by 52 percent. They gathered in the streets of West Hollywood to voice their frustration. The demonstrations started at San Vicente and Santa Monica, and continued past midnight.

Some protestors in Hollywood clashed with police and seven people were arrested on charges including resisting arrest, public intoxication, and battery. One protestor jumped on top of a police car. He was quickly thrown to the ground and arrested.

Overall, the demonstrations were mostly peaceful.

"There were a thousand or more people gathered on the street. We marched down to the CNN building, we marched over to Hollywood and Highland, and then back here. The police have been wonderful. They've been protecting us the whole way. It's an amazing crowd, and we're here for the right reason," said Paul Asplund, an opponent of Prop 8.

Over the weekend the 'Yes on 8' campaign held rallies supporting the measure. Petitions have already been filed asking the state Supreme Court to invalidate Prop 8.

Supporters expected the constitutional amendment will survive any legal challenges.

"We accept this win, and it was a great moment for California. The voice of the voters has spoken and has been heard not once, but twice. And they very much want to uphold traditional marriage," said Sonja Eddings-Brown, 'Yes on 8' Deputy Communications Director.

About 18,000 gay couples married since a state Supreme Court ruling in May. The state attorney general, Jerry Brown, has said those marriages will remain valid, although legal challenges are possible.


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