As throngs of Missoulians marched downtown Saturday morning to protest Proposition 8, a California law banning same-sex marriage, one sign stood out: a picture of two men in the Many Glacier Hotel above the caption “I love my fabulous son.”
“It’s always been gratifying to support not only my son, but as many of his friends as we can,” said Brian Cook.
The proud father stood outside the Missoula County Courthouse, comforted by the knowledge that his son, Andrew Sullivan-Cook, was simultaneously protesting in Dallas, Texas. Brian wore his sign on a string around his neck, along with a button: “Straight but not narrow.”
The call for a nationwide protest cropped up on blogs and Facebook shortly after Californians voted Proposition 8 into law on Nov. 4. Word spread through text messages and e-mails to gather on Nov. 15. According to news reports, more than a million people in 50 states and 10 countries answered.
“I think it’s a testament to organization in the new century,” said Jamee Greer, a Missoula activist.
Greer learned of the protest from the online group Join the Impact. While he and friends made many of the signs, Greer said there was no central organization for the Missoula protest. He only led the group of approximately 100 after popular demand.
Greer calls the fight for equality dire in Montana, where businesses can fire individuals based on sexual orientation. Fatherly support factors into Greer’s story, too. His father, though the conservative, Christian, ex-military type, has staunchly believed in equal rights for homosexuals since Greer came out in high school. “He knows that he has rights that I don’t,” Greer said.
Cook plans to protest as often as it takes to win basic civil rights for his son. Regarding Proposition 8’s passing, the two “simply did not talk about it.” But there’s promise in seeing people rise up.
“Change is not just handed to you,” Cook said. “You have to go out and take it.”