No on Prop 8 Supporters Campaign Until Last Minute

BY SWETA VOHRA //

If you heard honking on the streets of El Cerrito today, it probably had little to do with the traffic.

The No on Prop 8 campaign is making last-minute efforts near local polling places on sidewalks and street corners, and many cars are using their horns to voice their support.

“If [the proposition] lost, I didn’t want to think, what if I had gone out? I wanted to give it my all,” said Dr. Susan Kegeles of Berkeley.

Kegeles has been out since early this morning by Hogan’s Garage, a polling place in north El Cerrito, handing out fliers and flashing signs at residents as they head to vote. A professor at the University of California, San Francisco who conducts research on HIV prevention among young gay men, Kegeles said, “Legalizing marriage is a way to show gays and lesbians as equals.”

Joyce Jennings and Sharon Lewis were also out near the United Methodist Church polling station earlier today. Lewis, who has a gay son, said this was the first day she’s done active campaigning and has been impressed with the hard work by the No on Prop 8 campaign. She wanted to do her part today by being out in the community.

Lewis, who came from Canada over 40 years ago, sums up her feelings about this year’s election: “If Obama doesn’t win and Proposition 8 doesn’t pass, I am thinking about moving back to Canada.”

Jennings, a resident of Berkeley, had been up since 5 a.m. campaigning at various sites in El Cerrito and the East Bay. For her, this is a very personal, emotional proposition. Jennings married her partner this past June and if Prop 8 passes, it could potentially dissolve her marriage.

“It’s really scary that it only takes a majority of people to change the constitution, which is supposed to protect our rights,” she said.

Jennings acknowledges that it’s a very emotional issue for people on both sides.

“You don’t have to support same-sex marriage morally but you can also vote no on 8,” she said.  For her, the bigger issue is about changing the constitution to eradicate basic rights.

Jennings said that while many people have been excited by their signs, there have been unpleasant and sheepish reactions. One man, according to Jennings, took a flier, threw it down, and yelled at her.

“Some straight couples have passed by me and won’t even look at me. They just don’t get it,” said Kegeles.

The campaign for No on Prop 8 will continue until the polls close at 7 p.m. today. Many of the supporters plan to be at Unitarian Universalist Church in Kensington tonight, which will have a potluck party and big screen TV to watch the election results.

It’s unclear whether voters will know the results of Prop 8 by tonight, but campaigners are going to fight until the end.

Jennings said, “I’m very nervous, but I’m out here because of it.”

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