D.C. Counter-Protest to NOM’s ‘Summer for Marriage’
In response to the turning tide of public opinion on marriage equality, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) launched the “Summer for Marriage” bus tour in July. Their goal was to show the grassroots power behind the “one man + one woman = marriage” school of thought. Not surprisingly, all they showed was that NOM and their ilk are of a dying breed. From Harrisburg, Pa., to Orlando, Fla., NOM’s message was torpedoed by counter-protestors who dwarfed the events.
This last Sunday, Aug.15, NOM hit their last stop in Washington, D.C. They were greeted with over 250 counter-protestors who gathered at Freedom Plaza. NOM rallied with 30 people at the U.S. Capitol, a little over a mile away from the counter-protest. Speakers on NOM's agenda included Alveda King and Bishop Harry Jackson. Both are prominent African American conservative activists, criticized for driving a wedge between black churches and supporters of LGBT rights. D.C. is a notable tour stop because it was the first majority non-white jurisdiction to pass marriage equality in the United States. The D.C. City Council approved marriage equality with an 11-2 vote.
At the Atlanta NOM rally Alveda King, a niece of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., made headlines when she said same-sex marriage is “genocide.” At the U.S. Capitol rally last Sunday she said, “I come from a long line of Christian soldiers who have supported marriage. […] We cannot let a few misguided judges and politicians erase the truth and beauty of the lasting institution of marriage and family.”
Bishop Jackson’s campaign against same-sex marriage came to a head when the D.C. Council took up marriage equality legislation late last year. Jackson claimed that the D.C. Council denied residents the right to vote on a political issue, conveniently ignoring the fact that Jackson himself is not a resident of D.C. By Jackson’s own words, this is a debate that should happen among D.C. residents. The sparse turnout at the Capitol is an indication of its saliency among D.C. folk.
Campus Progress was at the NOM counter-protest called “The Big Commit” organized by a coalition of local and national groups, including Full Equality Now D.C.!, GetEqual, Freedom to Marry, and the National Black Justice Coalition. Below are photos from the counter-protest.
Sean Carlson, an organizer from Talk About Equality, coordinated the event from backstage. On stage, he credits the NOM bus tour for bringing the D.C. LGBT community together for this event. Many of these grassroots groups have never worked together before.
Aiyi’nah Ford from Equality Across America makes opening remarks at the event. She points out that Alveda King is not a spokesperson for the civil rights legacy of her uncle. “Alveda King may be present, but it was Coretta Scott King who said out of her very mouth that gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection,” Ford says.
Karen Williams, member of the National Black Justice Coalition Board of Directors, is an “out” Black lesbian comic. She urges the crowd to read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights since laws are the basis of equal rights to marriage.
Members of an all black female queer rock and soul band, “The CoolLots,” get hyped to perform their song “Acceptance.” The song has a political focus that creates community around differences.
Michael Crawford, Director of New Media at the Freedom to Marry, thanks rally participants for attending the event. Before his work at the Freedom to Marry, Crawford co-founded the DC4Marriage campaign and congratulated the strength of LGBT people of color who were front and center of the campaign that brought marriage equality to D.C.
Kylie Gilliams and Je’Lissa Fowler are students at Guilford College in North Carolina, but live outside of Washington, D.C. Gilliams and Fowler are frustrated with people like those who protested at the NOM rally because of their attempt to dictate the lives of others.
Vincent is an Events Associate at Campus Progress.