Gay Marriage Backers, Foes Hold Dueling Rallies
SALT LAKE CITY -- A little more than a month after a surprising federal court ruling overturned this conservative state’s ban on gay marriage, the battle over the issue reached the Capitol building Tuesday as hundreds of opponents and supporters of same-sex marriage held twin rallies.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said Utah has become the epicenter of the fight over marriage and how it’s decided.
"Activist judges now feel no qualms in simply putting forward their opinion as the law," Brown said. "The people of Utah voted on this."
Brown’s Washington, D.C.-based group, which opposes same-sex marriage, held a rally inside the Capitol building with a local group called Celebration of Marriage. About 700 people attended, with many holding pink and blue signs handed out by organizers with messages such as "Biology is not bigotry."
Several supporters of gay marriage were escorted out by security officers after they interrupted the event by yelling, "Equality now." Several protesters sat on the floor in the middle of the event and threw glitter.
Rod Arquette, a local radio host serving as host of the event, addressed the gay marriage supporters interrupting the event.
"We do not hate you. We do not despise you," he said. "But we want to stand up for what we believe in."
Doug Mainwaring, a gay man and national tea party activist, told the crowd that "it is not homophobic to oppose same-sex marriage."
He said it’s best for children when they have a mother and a father.
"Two men creating or engineering a family with children is not exactly the same as a family headed by a man and a woman," he said. "Kids need and learn from both a mom and a dad and they deserve to have them."
Republican Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes also spoke at the rally and discussed the state’s battle over gay marriage.
He said some have criticized him for paying $300,000 for outside attorneys to help with their legal challenge.
"I do not believe this is a losing case," he said to a standing ovation.
A few hours earlier, about 300 supporters of same-sex marriage rallied at the Capitol steps, carrying rainbow flags and homemade signs with messages such as "Love is Legal" and "It’s okay to be gay."
Speakers called for the recognition of same-sex marriages and attacked arguments made by their opponents that children do best with a mother and a father.