This week, the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments for two controversial cases slated for this week—informally referred to as Prop 8 and DOMA, or the Defense Of Marriage Act.
Yesterday the high court tackled Proposition 8, or the California Marriage Protection Act, an amendment passed in 2008 which defined marriage as between a man and a woman in the state of California. The Federal District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the amendment unconstitutional, citing violation of the the U.S. government’s ingrained concepts of equality and fairness in the eyes of the law.
Today, nine justices will weigh whether the Defense Of Marriage Act, a separate federal law that denies federal benefits—like visiting a spouse or a child in the hospital—to same-sex spouses, in constitutional.
Thousands of people swarmed the Supreme Court to advocate their support for or against allowing marriage for loving families—some so dedicated as to form a line last Thursday to vie for a chance to get inside the courtroom.
For others, however, it was more important to raise their voices outside the high court's walls, as they carried signs, donned celebratory outfits, and molded their opinions into palatable catchy-chants. Meet the young faces
BEN BEARY // ROCKVILLE, MD // VOLUNTEER
"People are understanding two people of the same sex or gender getting married isn’t going to affect them or their family," Beary told Campus Progress, when asked about the shift towards acceptance in the country. "So I’m hopeful, very optimistic."
DEBBIE AND STACEY // TOLEDO, OHIO // ACTIVISTS
"To help make a statement with the rest. We’re looking for equal rights," Debbie (left) said of being outside of the Supreme Court. Debbie told Campus Progress that she thought it was better that the decision would be made in the courts, rather than "in the hands of the masses."
LIZ // OHIO // OPTIMIST
Why had Liz been outside the Court since 5:30 AM? "It’s a good opportunity—one, I always wanted to see a Supreme Court oral argument. Two, this is kind of the best one to go to for our time," she said. When asked about her thoughts on what the Court's ruling might be, Liz said she was "very hopeful they they will make the right decision."
MR. BOISSE // RHODE ISLAND // MARRIAGE EQUALITY OPPONENT
When asked why he had made the trip to DC, Boisse told Campus Progress, "I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman. How else can you procreate? That doesn’t happen that way. Basically, it’s my religious beliefs also and it’s how I was brought up." When asked what he thought the Court's decision might be? "We’re outnumbered. But just have to wait and see how it goes," Boisse said.
ADAM BINK // WASHINGTON, DC // ACTIVIST
Adam Bink, director of online programs for the Courage Campaign, emphasized the role of young people: "I think that the more young people are comfortable coming out and talking about their friends being gay, or being gay or lesbian themselves…A new generation of people believes that it doesn’t matter if you’re gay as long as you love them." Yet, despite encouraging signs across the country, Bink told Campus Progress that the work doesn't end today. "We have to make headlines, we have to get on TV, we have to show large support like this. We have to show the justices over the next couple months that the we believe the time is right for marriage equality, Bink said.
JON LEWIS AND STUART GAFFNEY // SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA // MARRIED AND PROUD
Lewis and Gaffney, who are one of the 18,000 couples who married in California before Prop 8, have been together for 26 years. Gaffney (right) told Campus Progress that they were here today "to make it nationwide so that this issue is decided once and for all. And all Americans can live with the freedom to marry the person that they love. Leiws (left) added: "We’re here today because we’re not just Californians, we’re Americans."
TODD AND ANDY BLUDWORTH // FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA // PARENTS
Todd (left) told Campus Progress that they are parents of two children, and thus, are very concerned about federal marriage rights. Andy (right) spoke about how people's perceptions oftentimes change when they know that one of their family members or friends are LGBT. "Our relatives are perfect examples of that. Christian, conservatives, who until we came out were against it. But once we got married and had children, all that was wiped away," Andy said.
GREGORY T. ANGELO // WASHINGTON, D.C. // LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS
"We have a contingent of Log Cabin Republicans here, making the conservative and the constitutional case for marriage equality for committed gay and lesbian couples in the United States," Angelo told Campus Progress. Do you think the Republican party will have to change their stance on this issue–or are they already? "I think for the future of this party, the party needs to understand that same sex couples should have the same rights and responsibilities that heterosexual couples have," Angelo said.
HILLARY ANDERSON // BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA // STUDENT
Hillary Anderson, a student at Indiana University, said she was rallying today "to make sure everyone has equal rights." How important are the youth to this movement? Very important, Anderson said. "If you look at voter turnout in elections, that it tells you everything you need to know about where the country is headed and…the power young people have, and the difference they’re going to make," she told Campus Progress.
ISAAC HOCKENBARGER // TOPEKA, KANSAS // WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH
Isaac Hockenbarger, a member of the Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kansas, told Campus Progress, "Same sex marriage is a nation-destroying sin." When asked how same sex marriage was going to affect his marriage, he came up short. "Well, I’m not married; I don’t desire to be married in the near future. I don’t go after that."
DEREK TRIPP // DOMA PROJECT
Derek Tripp works with the DOMA Project, which raises awareness of the impact of DOMA on married gay and lesbian bi-national couples. Tripp told Campus Progress, "This is discrimination against couples. And that ultimately this is about protecting families and their future."
Brian Cain, who is part of a bi-national couple (his husband is from Mexico), says that although they are legally married in Mexico, the United States views them as "just friends." Is Cain hopeful about the court's ruling? "I'm very hopeful. I have to be–it's all I have."
MATTHEW GABB (LEFT) // FREDERICK, MD // MARIEKA COBER (RIGHT) // CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA // AMERICAN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
Marieka Cober emphasized the importance of youth: "Not only can they spread the message in a whole lot of ways that others couldn’t, like with social media, but our generation has been statistically in favor of gay rights, especially gay marriage." Matthew explained his sign: "I just wanted to have my sign say that we’re not done yet. To remind people that once we get marriage equality, hopefully, that there are still other things to fight for and I don’t want the momentum to stop."
RAFAEL PETRY // NEW YORK CITY
Rafael Petry, who has gained attention for his Dumbledore sign, said he was there to rally for equal rights for everyone. Youth, Petry told Campus Progress, have been so important to the LGBT rights movement. "[They] are going to play a key part in turning this around and making sure that initiatives to ban gay marriage in the states don’t pass in the states and gay marriage gets approved," he said.
JAMIE HOLLAND // NEW YORK CITY // LAW STUDENT
Jamie Holland (left), a law student from New York City, told Campus Progress, "Law is one way to make significant change and to make sure people have their rights."
FAYE JACOBS AND BONNIE QUSENBERRY // DELAWARE
Faye Jacobs (left) and Bonnie Qusenberry (right), from Delaware, were at the Supreme Court celebrating their 31st anniversary. Jacobs told Campus Progress, " We’re being denied our rights as citizens of this country."
JOSSALYN PERKINS // DC RESIDENT
Jossalyn Perkins, who lives in DC, said she came to the Supreme Court today because she was not working, and it was a great opportunity. She said that she brought her child here so he could see history being made. "Unfortunately, he's asleep," she said.
MEGAN GANDY // VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY
Megan Gandy, from the School of Social Work Doctoral program at the Virginia Commonwealth University, said she went to the Supreme Court because it was "Social workers work to end oppression for vulnerable and oppressed groups, and LGBT people are definitely in that population." When asked if she was hopeful about the Court's decision, she told Campus Progress, "It sounded like the court was a little hesitant to make a nationwide sweeping ruling, but I am confident that gay people will have the right to marry soon. I hope that they strike down DOMA, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see."
JIMMY, MEGAN, EVAN, ERIN, AND SHAWN (IN PHOTO, FROM LEFT TO RIGHT) // ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND
CP: Why are you all out here today?
EVAN: Just to support the cause.
ERIN: I want to see my best friend get married one day when he’s ready. That’s a big deal to me.
CP: What do you think the Court will decide?
ERIN: I’m a little nervous, but I’m hoping.
JIMMY: The one justice, Kennedy, has to decide.
CP: What do you think of the atmosphere out here?
JIMMY: I think it’s really nice, except for them (pointing to the Westboro Baptist Church).
ERIN: They’re entertaining.
EVAN: I think they actually help our argument, because they protest in the worst way."