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Activists on both sides of the debate over same-sex marriage are saying “I do” this week to rallies and other demonstrations that coincide with oral arguments in two pivotal Supreme Court cases.
Justices on Tuesday and Wednesday will hear challenges to California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage in the state, and to a section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. The decisions, expected in June, have the potential to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry across the U.S.
United for Marriage: Light the Way to Justice, a coalition of groups that support marriage equality, will hold a rally on Tuesday morning in the plaza in front of the Supreme Court, with participants encouraged to wear red, symbolizing love. Other such events will take place across the country, including vigils nationwide Monday evening.
More than 175 events in all 50 states are planned, Human Rights Campaign spokesman Kevin Nix said.
At the Supreme Court plaza rally Tuesday, proponents of same-sex marriage will include Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, civil rights and religious leaders, and a number of Republicans including David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.
“More people are motivated than I’ve ever seen before to show up in Washington, D.C., to show the human face behind these historic cases,” Stuart Gaffney of Marriage Equality USA said.
Gaffney said he is in town from San Francisco for the week’s events. “Decades of activism have been leading up to this moment, and these two cases feel like the culmination of almost a lifetime of activism,” he added.
Most of the organizers and participants in these demonstrations say they are not looking to sway the opinion of the nine justices as much as they are continuing their ongoing grass-roots push for support from ordinary Americans in the court of public opinion.
“I don’t think it’s about influencing the court’s decision; it’s about being a moral witness to ending marriage discrimination,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of the Freedom to Marry campaign. “These cases are part of a broader strategy that has brought us to this moment and will carry us to victory whether in June or as soon thereafter as possible.”