Several members of Dignity/Washington had the honor to be present at the very large demonstrations (by Supreme Court case standards) in support of same sex marriage rights at the U. S. Supreme Court on the 26th and 27th of March. Notable aspects of the events was the broad range of ages from early 20s students and interns to individuals in their 60s and 70s and the very positive vibe among the attendees. That it was a pleasant crisp spring day did not hurt the mood. Security was heavy, but friendly and there were no physical clashes among different groups. Given the tight space between the Supreme Court Plaza and the street, general speakers are not allowed by current regulations in the area so crowds consist only of people with signs. Marches are allowed on the street, but cannot stop in the area.
On March 26 the Court was slated to hear arguments in the California Prop 8 case. The day began with an Interfaith Service held at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation located just a few blocks from the Supreme Court building. Called “A Prayer for Love & Justice” members of all faiths attended in the spirit of love, hope and equality. Several Dignity/Washington members participated, including Allen Rose, Dan Barutta, Eddie Weingart, Sr. Jeannine Gramick, Fr. Joseph Palacios and Fr. Tim MacGeorge among many others.
The service concluded with a march to the Supreme Court building where worshipers joined around 2,000 very positive LGBT individuals and allies with many creative, hand-made signs. At 10:00 there was a parade along the street in front of the Supreme Court building of around 1,000 opponents of marriage equality, most of whom had been bused down from New York City carrying printed signs. The two groups largely ignored each other. Once the parade was over, the LGBT presence continued until noon.
On the 27th the Justices heard arguments to determine if the Defense of Marriage Act was constitutional. There was a somewhat smaller but equally enthusiastic LGBT crowd of around 1,000, and very few individuals in support of the restrictive law. The crowd remained for a few hours until after the case was heard and the attorneys/proponents for each side addressed the press and crowd.
Decisions on the cases are anticipated to occur in June.
by Tom Bower, Dignity/Washington Board member