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Prop. 8 protest: A loud and clear message, quietly

Posted: December 20, 2008 8:10 p.m.
Updated: December 21, 2008 4:59 a.m.

Jennae Phillippe, 29, of West Los Angeles, shares in the moment of silence for couples affected by the passage of Prop. 8 on the Nov. 4 ballot.

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Without chanting, yelling or holding up big signs, about 30 local same-sex-marriage supporters were confident their voices were heard Saturday night.

Joining others across the country for a "Light Up the Night for Equality Candlelight Vigil," local Proposition 8 protesters held a non-confrontational candlelight vigil and walk down Town Center Drive at Westfield Valencia Town Center.

Proposition 8, passed on Nov. 4 by voters, defines marriage as between one woman and one man in California.

"We're standing up for equality and remembering the rights we had so briefly," said John Anderson of Saugus. "I've gone to the mob-esque types of protests in Hollywood to get the sadness and anger out of losing the vote.

"But there are different methods of dealing with the situation and moving forward and having gradual success."

The silent protest was sponsored by, which seeks equality for all.

The movement encourages rounded, civil and respectful debate on the same-sex-marriage issue, and it desires inclusion of all communities as it works toward positive change, according to information provided by event co-coordinator Jennae Phillippe.

The point of the walk was two-fold, she said.

"We want to keep the community together to remember we (same-sex-marriage supporters) are not alone and to keep the issue fresh in people's minds," she said.

Participants, many wearing "Light Up the Night" T-shirts, gathered near the traffic circle outside the mall entrance and collected their candles from event co-coordinator Erica Heathman. The participants casually walked down Town Center Drive with candles held high.

At both ends, out in front of Edwards Valencia Cinema and Sisley Italian Kitchen, the protesters stopped to hold a moment of silence.

"We're going to have a moment of silence for rights lost and for the marriages (that may) be taken away," Phillippe said to the crowd gathered in a circle.

Stares and curious murmurs of "what are they doing?" were the most confrontation participants encountered.

Despite worries by business owners in and around Town Center a day earlier, participants did not cause much commotion. "Everything is going well," said Julie Covino, director of security for Town Center.

Passerby Trish Condon of Valencia said she was not aware what walkers were doing at first, but once she found out, she thought it was "fabulous."

"It was just peaceful and quiet, not too in-your-face, but getting a message across," she said. "Not everything has to be with megaphones and speakers."

Although Andrew Pfeffer of Saugus said he'd rather see people take a stand and get in people's faces, he joined the vigil to support human rights and his daughter, Leigh Pfeffer, who is gay.

But Leigh Pfeffer said she's seen success in both methods of protest.

Home from school in Santa Cruz for holiday break, she decided to participate in the vigil because she felt affected by coming back to Santa Clarita and seeing all the "Yes on Prop. 8" signs.

"I felt isolated from the people I felt were my friends," she said.

After the first walk down Town Center Drive, Heathman said she felt positive about the experience.

"I'm feeling accomplished," she said. "We had a good turnout for this kind of bedroom community. Having people see us and not throwing anything at us and not screaming - I think that is an accomplishment."


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