For Supreme Court campers, some big lessons have been learned since the last big SCOTUS stake-out, for health care in June 2012.
The high court will hear two cases related to same sex marriage starting Monday, and this time around, according to Virginia resident and SCOTUS camper Andy Bakker, “the line is smaller, but we came out earlier." Bakker and several of his friends are among the dozens of people who have been hanging out at the Supreme Court since Thursday.
“I think the line will keep growing,” he said Monday morning. “We have 50 [people] now. There’s probably 100 seats.”
Unlike the 2012 health decision vigil, Bakker says, this group of folks, whether they are for or against same-sex marriage, isn’t going to suffer line-cutters. These guys are making friends and keeping cordial.
“We’re keeping a list [of where people are in line] so there are no arguments. We’re looking out for each other so people can take breaks.”
As HOH made its way down the line, Bakker was just one of many who had come from across the country to support the right of same-sex couples to marry. We spoke to SCOTUS campers from Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Oregon, Colorado and California. Each of them excited, pumped and passionate.
What we didn't find were many people against gay marriage. "We hear there is one couple," said one person who's in town from Texas.
For John Becker, an "independent LGBT activist" and one of the organizers of a pro-same-sex marriage rally scheduled for Tuesday, the journey to the Supreme Court has been a personal one.
"My husband couldn't be with me today, but he and I just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary on Friday," Becker told us. "It kind of shows you how far we've come in a short time. In 2006, only Massachusetts allowed same-sex couples to marry, but they didn't allow nonresidents. We lived in Wisconsin, so we literally had to leave the country to make this symbolic legal commitment.” Becker and his husband were married in Canada.
"In that time," he said, his voice catching in his throat, "we've gone from one state in the United States to nine plus D.C., and we're here at the Supreme Court. It chokes me up to really know that in my lifetime we will really be equal."
Skyler Mays just hopped off a Greyhound bus from Arkansas and had met up with his friends Dustin Haley of Texas and Chuck Corbett of D.C.
Corbett, number six in the queue, had been there since Thursday: "I'm back here holding a spot for a friend who is supposed to show up at some point."
Had he known people would be in line so early, Mays said he would have left Arkansas a day early.
"I'm hoping that the [justices ask] questions that are not so narrow, that don't just affect California," Mays said. "I'm hoping it will be broader that it will affect all states. I think that's a possibility, but one state's one state, you know? One state down, a few more to go. Illinois and some other states are going to legalize it this year as well."
Standing next to them were two high school seniors, a young woman and a young man, from Denver in Washington on a college tour. They were enthusiastic supporters of same-sex marriage. The boy's father held the umbrella for them.
"We're such Supreme Court nerds," the young man told us. "Can't wait to hear [Justices] Antonin Scalia and [Elena] Kagan."
"We hear that [Justice Clarence] Thomas just sits back and lounges," she said.
"We got Kagan yogurt," the young man said.