Seen on LAist!!!

I got a chance to interview Teresa Wang of a new grass roots organization called Roots of Equality.

Tell me about Roots of Equality, whose idea was it and how did you guys get started?

Six of us decided we needed to do something for the visibility of No on 8. We were especially frustrated with the influx of "yes on 8" materials, rallies etc. Their visibility made us feel even more like a powerless minority and we had enough. My cousin in-law, Tom DeSimone, and his partner, Jason Wright rallied with some people in Thousand Oaks against prop 8. They then recruited the rest of us to start doing mini-rallies (outside Staples Center Events, at Sunset and Vine, and at the Hollywood Farmer's Market, pretty much wherever we went.) Tom, Jason, Melissa Lopez, Kersu Dalal, Justin Emerick, and I decided to organize Roots of Equality to put together a large rally and give the people for No on 8 one booming voice.

What are the details of Sunday's Rally?

Sunday's rally will take place at Pershing Square on the corner of Olive and 6th at 1:00 pm. The goal of the rally is to motivate participants to go out in the final days before the election and be vocal and visible. One of our biggest themes is for the participants to tell their stories including how prop 8 will affect their lives. We want them to take their stories out to the people in their lives who are undecided or may vote yes in a final attempt to show those voters that this proposition is not political, it's personal.

We're going to start the rally with some good old fashioned honk soliciting. We're also going to have Diane Olson and Robin Tyler speak. Olson and Tyler were the original plaintiffs who started the marriage equality lawsuit that ended up winning equal rights for gays and lesbians at the California Supreme Court last May. We will also have a segment where participants will have a chance to take the mic and tell their stories. We'll follow up with a pledge drive, not for money, but pledges to start a discussion with the yes and undecided voters in their lives. The rally will also include a sign making station where participants can make signs of their own to use during the rally, and bring back to their neighborhood.

We do want to emphasize that if Yes on 8 people or other opponents come in the vicinity of our rally, participants should not engage them and ignore them no matter what they say or do. We are asking for respect and dignity and so even if our opponents do not give treat us with that, we will. Our rally is peaceful.

I've heard a Yes on 8 group will be having a rally at City Hall at the same time. What do you expect from that and do you think Roots of Equality will outnumber them?

We do know they will have a rally but have no idea what types of numbers they are expecting. We have to admit that their presence at our City Hall was a motivator to have our rally on that day in downtown. As residents of Downtown LA, we refuse to sit and watch as Yes on 8 assembles in our backyard to take away our rights. We want to show that Downtown LA is against Prop 8, Los Angeles is against Prop 8, and soon California will show that we are against Prop 8.

There are currently rallies every night in West Hollywood, and to me this seems a bit like preaching to the choir, why did you choose downtown?

I work in Orange County and my parents live in Orange County. I've seen firsthand how visible Yes on 8 is in that area and how much No on 8 needs to be visible in those areas. I saw recently that Fullerton had a huge rally which I thought was awesome. Like I said earlier, Downtown LA is our neighborhood and we want to be visible in our area, visible to the media, and then send people off from the rally motivated to be visible in their neighborhoods and their lives. Also, toward the end of a campaign visibility efforts are as much about getting your voters out as they are trying to convince new voters.

How many people do you expect at this point? And is there anything the group needs, more signs, printing, etc?

This little idea amongst friends has ballooned into something big and potentially very powerful. None of us are practiced activists so we're admittedly a bit inexperienced in this. We're expecting our rally to number somewhere in the hundreds, based on our responses so far and the expectation that many people will bring their friends and others will come via word of mouth.

The first thing we need from people is their attendance. If people want to help out, please contact us at rootsofequality@gmail.com. Right now we need an experienced MC and more notable speakers. Oh, and if anyone has an amazing sound system that would be cool too.

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