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Prop 8 protest in Evanston [26 November, 2008]

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The Century Landmark Theater in Evanston was the scene of a Proposition 8-related protest on Saturday, November 22.

Proposition 8 bans same-sex marriages in California.  Following its passage, gay activists have been finding and releasing information about corporations and/or their employees that helped fund the measure, in an effort to bring about a widespread economic boycott.  Alan Stock, CEO of Cinemark, the corporation that owns Century Theater, gave a personal contribution of $9,999 to support Proposition 8.

Ironically, Cinemark is also set to release Milkon December 5.  The film is a dramatic rendition of the life of Harvey Milk, one of the most famed gay activists of the twentieth century.  The film’s director, Gus Van Sant, and the screenwriter Dustin Lance Black are both gay.  The group No Milk for Cinemark is calling for a boycott of all Cinemark theaters.

There have been nation-wide calls for similar economic boycotts related to Proposition 8.  This summer, gay activists in San Diego called for the community to stop patronizing the Manchester Grand Hyatt, owned by Proposition 8 supporter Doug Manchester.

Andy Thayer, of Gay Liberation Network, which organized the picket in Evanston, said that people were being encouraged to see the film elsewhere.  Vickie Maples, who marched on Saturday with a sign that said, “Don’t Let Them Profit from Harvey Milk’s Death,” had no doubts about her feelings.  Like many of the protesters, she heard about the action during the November 15 rally in Federal Plaza: “I go to this theater all the time and I was appalled that the CEO had given money [to Proposition 8].  I would have come here to see Milk but…now I won’t.  I’ll see it at Landmark Century.”

The crowd was a diverse one in terms of age and gender, and marched resolutely despite the cold.  Several passing cars honked in support, and the number of picketers swelled to approximately 350 as the evening went on.  Chants included the straightforward “Boycott Century,” to “Gay, Straight, Black, White/Marriage is a Civil Right.” People carried colorful home-made signs that ranged from the humorous (“Too Cute to Hate”) to the serious (“No More Playing Our Movies, Taking Our Money, Then Using it Against US!”)

Originally published in Windy City Times, 26 November, 2008

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