I went to the same-sex marriage protest in Manhattan on Wednesday night where (in my humble estimate) about 5,000 people demonstrated. While it was nice to see so many people standing up for marriage rights, I left very quickly quite disappointed and with a reinforced notion that protests just don't do much good.
My biggest problem with them in general (and this one reinforced it) is the tone. I heard over and over and over about the "protest." The word protest is inherently negative. It means you're going to demonstrate AGAINST something, not FOR it. To me, the word "rally" is much better, as it is proactive and reflects positive movement forward, that you're going to gather and RALLY FOR something, not PROTEST AGAINST something. It may sound trivial, but I think it's an important distinction that sets the tone for these events.
I was also quite disappointed to see how much hate the protestors brought to the event. Signs that castigated the Mormon church the same way they have castigated us. Someone writing things on the sidewalk in chalk, equating Catholics and Mormons with Nazis. This is not the way we affect change. This is mean-spirited preaching to the converted. And what it's done is give social-conservative pundits like Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity footage with which to turn their viewers against gay people.
My hope is that more and more of the demonstrators will start talking about the positive aspects of these events, start carrying positive signs and sending a positive message, and use these events to speak to people whose minds we need to shift. Doing what ultra-Leftist Manhattanites want us to do simply won't get us what we seek.