About 20 same-sex marriage advocates put their message into song and dance Thursday at the Tacoma Farmers Market, where they performed a surprise dance routine to the song “Chapel of Love.”
Their goal was to get “yes” votes in the November election for Referendum 74, which would uphold the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state.
“You approach someone in a different way after you shake your booty and dance like a crazy person,” said Benjii Bittle, the deputy executive director of the Broadway Center, who helped coordinate the flash mob. “The barrier to talking to someone about a political issue is removed.”
Flash mobs are choreographed events, often coordinated through social media, that appear spontaneous to onlooking crowds.
Same-sex marriage opponents submitted enough signatures this month to put the issue to voters in November. If it fails, the measure would overturn the law the Legislature passed this year that legalized same-sex marriage – such weddings are on hold, pending the election results.
The campaign that gathered the signatures – Preserve Marriage Washington – advocates that “voters reject redefining marriage” and contends citizens should have the right to decide whether same-sex marriage should be legal in Washington, according to its website.
Flash mob participants asked onlookers to pledge their support for the referendum, talking to the crowd after the performance.
Clarifying what a “yes” or “no” vote means for the measure was part of that discussion.
“When the voting does come around, I think it’s going to be confusing for most everybody,” said Karla Winship, a bystander who approached one of the participants to make sure that voting yes meant she was supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Some of the lawmakers who helped legalize same-sex marriage for the first time in the state had another first Thursday – by performing in the flash mob.
“Most of us have never done this before,” said state Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, the first openly lesbian lawmaker to serve in the Legislature and one of the flash-mob dancers.
Rep. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma, who is running for state Senate – had planned to sing the number for the performance, but after confusion about the microphone setup, they played a recording. Though she expects to provide vocals next time – the group plans to hold other flash mobs at yet-to-be-determined locations throughout the summer.
Bittle said those performances should be bigger, because of the addition of musicians.
“I think over the summer things will really pick up,” he said. “I can’t wait to see the ukuleles … just amp up the volume a little.”