May 27, 2009 (San Diego’s East County)—“This is a time where we need equality,” says Eve Parker, lead organizer of the East County Equality Torch Relay slated for June 6th in Santee, El Cajon, La Mesa and Lemon Grove. The relay is part of a county-wide event for supporters of equal rights for gay and lesbian people. “I am actually a heterosexual, but I felt so strongly that I believe it is important that I stand up and take the lead,” said Parker. She points to the women’s rights and Civil Rights movements of the past, noting that it took the support of men and white Americans to help secure equal rights for women and African-Americans.
The June 6th date for the relay commemorates the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, events that many consider to be the start of the gay rights movement. Organizers say the Equality Torch Relay event aims to "inspire courage" and foster reflection on impacts of discrimination.
“Some think this relay is happening at the wake of the Supreme Court ruling for same-sex marriage in California, but the timing is ironic; we have been planning this event for weeks,” Parker said, referring to today’s high court decision upholding Proposition 8, which bans future gay marriages in the state. Two of East County’s state legislators, Senator Dennis Hollingsworth and Assemblyman Joel Anderson, have been vocal supporters of Prop 8, maintaining that marriage should be reserved for unions between a man and a woman. The torch, which is unlit, will travel to every city in San Diego County including segments via foot, bicycle, car, rail, air, sea and more. In East County, stops will include 20-minute rallies at each City Hall. To date, political leaders who have confirmed that they will speak include Lemon Grove Councilman George Gastil and Assemblyman Marty Block, said Parker.
Asked whether organizers anticipate counter-protesters in East County, a bastion of religious conservatism, Parker said law enforcement will be on hand to protect the rights and safety of participants.
For additional information or to sign up as a participant or volunteer, visit http://sandiegopride.org/382/Equality_Torch_Relay.htm.