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The San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality (SAME) gathered a crowd of about 40 supporters outside city attorney Jan Goldsmith’s office Wednesday afternoon for a brief rally before proceeding to Goldsmith’s office to deliver a petition demanding misdemeanor charges be dropped against nine protesters who were arrested in August 2010.

The “Equality 9,” as they’ve been referred to in LGBT circles, were arrested August 19, 2010, after refusing to leave the county clerk’s office after same-sex couples were denied marriage licenses. Proposition 8, the successful ballot initiative that intended to restrict marriage rights to heterosexual couples only, was overturned by U.S. District chief judge Vaughn R. Walker on August 4 that year, with same-sex marriages to be allowed to commence on August 18. But on the 16th, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit extended the ban indefinitely to allow Prop 8 supporters to mount a legal challenge to the ruling.

The protesters face two misdemeanors: refusal to disperse and interference with business of a public agency. They are being charged under California penal code 602.1(b), but rally speaker Linda Perine notes that 602.1(c) states “Section B shall not apply to any person on the premises who is engaging in activities protected by the California Constitution or the Constitution of the United States.”

“I can’t believe that that in a town where two of the major candidates for mayor are LGBT, a progressive, forward-thinking town like San Diego...that it’s our city attorney who’s choosing to prosecute this at a time when the city can’t fill potholes, we can’t put enough police on the streets, we’re shutting down libraries, that we would waste our taxpayer dollars to prosecute people for fighting for equality and their civil rights,” said Dwayne Crenshaw, executive director of San Diego PRIDE.

SAME announced it had gathered 2418 signatures on its petition to drop charges, another dozen or so were gathered during the rally from passersby or from attendees. Letters of support for their cause were submitted and read aloud. These included entries from mayoral candidate Bob Filner and Lorena Gonzalez of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council.

Pictured: SAME organizer and rally emcee Sean Bohac (above), Dwayne Crenshaw (below) ImageImage

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