Marriage amendment rally takes cake

By CHRISTINE S. MOYER, UPI Correspondent   |   Oct. 20, 2003 at 12:45 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- The idea was classic -- a bride and groom standing before their three-tier wedding cake in a tuxedo and gown. It was the protesters carrying signs and chanting songs that stood out.

Members of the Public Advocates of the United States, a Northern Virginia-based group, distributed wedding cake to people outside the Dirksen Senate Office Building last week promoting the Federal Marriage Amendment -- a resolution to amend the Constitution to state that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

"We are celebrating a traditional marriage with a bride and groom," said Jack Clayton, a Public Advocate volunteer. "There will be a woman bride."

Sparked by President Bush declaration of last week as "Marriage Protection Week" the Northern-Virginia based organization wants to public in encourage their senators to support the amendment.

Nicole Casta, one of the protesters at the event, called the amendment purely discriminatory and hypocritical. "I think it's ridiculous," she said. "They're talking out of both sides of their mouth. They're saying that marriage is a good thing but not for everyone."

Casta was among a dozen or so young men and women protesting the mock wedding that featured a man in a tuxedo and a woman clad in a white gown and veil on the corner of First Street and Connecticut Northeast.

"We don't believe the agenda of homosexuals should be forced on American families but that's the direction we're heading," said Jesse Binnall, director of communication of Public Advocates who was dressed as the groom.

Binnall said the urgency to address the issue of same sex marriage comes from the Supreme Court ruling in June which said that Texas cannot prohibit homosexual acts in private homes.

Binnall and other members of the non-profit organization told those passing by the table lined with slices of cake that a real marriage is one between a man and a woman, and they pumped a sign reading, "Fighting for American families."

However, this is a "fight" that not everyone agrees with or understands.

Linda Hering of Ohio, passing the protesters with her husband and two young daughters, accepted a piece of cake but said that she disagreed with the organization's message. "I don't agree with it at all," Hering said. "If you love each other it doesn't matter what sex you are."

In addition to marriage, Winnie Stachelberg, political director of the Human Rights Campaign, said that an even larger problem for gay couples is their lack of fair and equal treatment. Health benefits were among areas that she mentioned.

But for those hosting the marriage amendment ceremony the question was not a matter of fair or unfair but rather right or wrong.

"Society is being degraded and I would like to see marriage upheld," Clayton said. "I would like to see marriage in accordance of what the English language meant, man and woman."

Their solution is to adopt a 28th amendment to the Constitution that would begin, "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman."

The resolution, currently being discussed in the House, would still allow state legislatures to recognize civil unions between same-sex couples. The bill's cosponsors include Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., among others.

According to Binnall, the effort to gain support for the Federal Marriage Amendment has been gaining momentum and there are close to 100 co-sponsors in the house.

But HRC's Stachelberg is optimistic the effort will fail. They're trying to write discrimination into our Constitution," Stachelberg said. "We're taking it very seriously."

Protester Casta said, "There is very healthy hesitancy towards amending the Constitution. It would pain me if there was a piece of the Constitution discriminating against people. In the past it (the Constitution) was to extend rights, not take them away."

Binnall acknowledged that Constitutional amendments take a long time and that passing the Federal Marriage Amendment might take several years.

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