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Phooey, and more phooey!

Stateside with Rosalea Barker

Phooey, and more phooey!

It’s not every night in the U.S. that you see what looks like the back row of a Tongan rugby team standing in the bed of a pick-up truck—one wearing a pair of novelty glasses with fluorescent green whirly lights—jumping up and down, waving yellow signs, and yelling at the cars and buses going by. But there they were, on Oakland’s MacArthur Boulevard on Wednesday evening.

(For those of you who have never been in the presence of Tongan rugby players, look no further than this mash-up video of rugby league sensation Fuifui Moimoi—in the red #10 jersey—to appreciate why it was a pretty fearsome sight to behold.)

Perhaps that explains why the next night, at a very busy intersection near to a major freeway exit and entrance further along MacArthur, traffic was brought to a standstill by an overkill of cop cars. On each of the four corners of the intersection, about 20-30 proponents and opponents of California’s Proposition 8 were elbow to elbow chanting. It was good-natured, and nobody was obstructing traffic. Except for the police.

Click to enlarge

The following evening, a similar scene took place at another busy MacArthur intersection, but the police presence was much lighter and let the traffic keep flowing, as seen in this video:

Most of the Yes on 8 proponents out rallying are from church groups all around the Bay Area. The Tongan connection is that the Free Church of Tonga has a congregation that meets in the Fruitvale District near MacArthur Boulevard. At the beginning of this year, it faced the loss of the historic church building it bought a few years ago because it was having difficulty keeping up the mortgage payments. But its fundraising efforts were successful, and the congregation still meets there.

Enormous amounts of money ($52 million so far) are being spent by committees supporting or opposing the proposition, which—if made into law—“changes California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry. Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,” according to the sample ballot for the November 4 election. No on 8 was ahead in the polls a few weeks back, but Yes on 8’s television adverts suggesting young children would be taught about gay marriage at school have severely eroded that lead.



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