Great turnout both places, with around 100 supporters in Albany on Saturday, and more than 200 on Sunday in Providence. But it was the protestors who turned out that really made things memorable. They like to cloak themselves in the color of the rainbow, but they sure showed their true colors as intolerant, inconsiderate bullies who shout down and insult anyone who disagrees with them, including women and children.
Here’s the scoop:
It started Saturday in Albany. Those following our Twitter feed (follow us!) may have already seen my comments: “Silliest. Protest. Ever.” was how I described the pictures on Saturday. Right in the middle of a presentation by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, a bunch of people with umbrellas started walking up on stage. I told them we had a permit for the space, but they refused to leave. Shortly, the Capitol police came out and said to the protestors -- You know that the marriage tour has a permit here . . . you should leave. But still they hung around, holding their rainbow-colored umbrellas and balloons.
I had to smile . . . certain that the protestors just don’t realize how badly their militancy comes off looking when they crash someone else’s rally. The American people know the value of playing fair. This was our rally in support of marriage. Let them have their own rally -- to each his own -- but what’s to be gained by making a spectacle at someone else’s rally? All it did was raise the profile of our event and show them to be the intolerant bunch they are.
This was made crystal clear in their behavior to a Hispanic woman who had brought her family out to the rally with a picnic lunch. During the rally she moved to the back to nurse her baby. A bunch of male protestors followed her with their rainbow umbrellas and stood directly in front of her, blocking her view of the stage. She asked them to move, or at least turn around while she fed her baby, and they refused. Classy.
You really ought to see the 2-minute interview we did with the woman afterwards. My words here don’t do it justice. It’s pretty powerful. Click here to watch the video.
But it was in Providence on Sunday that the protestors really went crazy.
I’ve never seen anything like it. Chatter on the gay blogs had given us a heads-up that the Providence protestors intended to “out-do” their friends in Albany. Still, they told the Capitol police that all they planned was to assembly peacefully behind us on the Capitol lawn and demonstrate their support for gay marriage.
That lasted about 5 minutes.
Then they came around behind our rally and tried to shout over us. Then they came right into our crowd, getting in people’s faces and shouting at our marriage supporters. At one point while I was delivering my remarks, three protestors physically surrounded me and got right up in my face, trying to shout me down as Capitol police did nothing. Despite having ten days to prepare for the rally, and numerous calls from our state director to check on their preparations, Capitol police were totally unprepared and eventually had to call in state troopers to help restore order.
Throughout the event, the protestors were disgraceful. Mocking religion. Mocking children. I mean, what kind of adult goes up to a 7-year-old child and sneers, “Mommy raising you to be a good little bigot?”
We've just uploaded a video recap of Sunday's rally in Providence. It's hard to capture the intensity of the moment, even with the video footage, but you need to see it. These are the people who want to control our culture's understanding of marriage, family, and tolerance. Click here to watch now.
During the interviews afterwards, even the gay press seemed embarrassed by the display of hatred and intolerance from these activists. There was no need for us to comment -- these protestors’ actions spoke for themselves. Not only did they truly embarrass themselves and their cause, they made our point far more powerfully than we could ever hope to do, making it crystal clear how far they are willing to go to force their agenda on all of society.
If gay marriage ever becomes the law in Rhode Island, or any other state, remember this display of intolerance when they tell you they would never dream of forcing it on young children in public schools, as they did in Massachusetts and California.
I think gay marriage advocates are just beginning to realize what a disaster Sunday's unseemly behavior was for them. The New Jersey group organizing a counter-rally in Trenton even sent an urgent message to its members yesterday afternoon, urging them to not interfere with our Marriage Tour rally: "Walk right by them if you see them. We don't taunt them, harass them or shout them down."
Meanwhile, our supporters were outstanding! Many were in prayer, all were peaceful, and left more determined than ever to stand firm for marriage in Rhode Island. Before the protest, we had steady signups at the Two Million for Marriage table. Afterwards, we were absolutely flooded with supporters, newly galvanized in their commitment to protect marriage!
We have a message of tolerance and respect for all, adults and children alike. Theirs is a message of intolerance and hatred -- if you don’t agree with me, you’re a bigot and we’re going to either shout you down or intimidate you into silence. That’s no civil rights movement.
Our movement is growing. We're in Trenton today, where we’re looking forward to an even bigger crowd.
Follow all the tour coverage at www.marriagetour2010.com. Go tell your friends. Then come on out to join us on the tour!