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Gay marriage supporters march in the Central Valley

May 30, 2009 | 11:51 am

Several hundred people participated in a 14.5-mile march in support of same-sex marriage today in what organizers called “a symbolic sign of respect for the social movements before us.”

The marchers, departing from Selma, a central valley town that bears the same name as the historic Alabama center of the 1960s civil rights movement, were expected to arrive in Fresno about 1 p.m.

Fresno police said they were expecting between 3,000 and 5,000 people to converge at the town’s City Hall for an afternoon rally.

Some African American gay activists were troubled by the march and suggested that the 1965 marches from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery, Ala., were indelible events and that gay activists do not suffer the same kind of oppression that blacks did in 1960s Alabama.

Some in the Central Valley were also offended by the suggestion that their community should be compared to the Jim Crow South.

Fresno police spokesman Jeff Cardinale said march organizers had been “extremely cooperative” in working with local officials to plan a safe rally and march. The biggest concern, he said, was Fresno’s blistering heat, which was expected to climb beyond 90-degrees. He urged rally participants to drink plenty of water and wear sunscreen and light clothing.

-- Teresa Watanabe and Jessica Garrison


Interact140 Interactive map of milestones in the gay marriage battle and how state laws have changed since 2000.