The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is traveling around the country on a month-long tour promoting traditional marriage. The “Summer for Marriage Tour 2010: One Man One Woman” is targeting some of the key battleground areas in the ongoing debate over gay marriage.
Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy and one of the event’s speakers, told The Daily Caller that the group plans to stop in 23 cities in 19 states. “We recognize we need to get out there and rally the troops,” she said. “Our goal is to attract and educate supporters and activists”
While tour participants have been peaceful, gay rights activists at a couple stops have responded with venom, according to Brian Brown, president of the NOM.
Last Saturday, the tour stopped in Albany, New York and last Sunday in Providence, Rhode Island. In both places, Brown said, marriage advocates were besieged by gay rights protesters.
In Albany, activists surrounded the NOM crowd — carrying rainbow umbrellas and wearing red shirts that said “see my love” — and pushed their way onto the stage, as seen in a YouTube video provided by the NOM. There were also reports of individual incidents of intimidation, including harassment of a nursing mother, a verbal threat to kidnap a participant’s child, and garden variety name calling.
“Their goal was intimidating my family, me, and my three small children,” a nursing mother said on the YouTube video of the event provided by the NOM. “I think they did the job.”
In Providence, the protesters got much more out of hand, Brown told TheDC. “I’d never seen anything like it in my life,” he said, “and I’ve been involved in the same-sex marriage issue for years…Ive been in the heart of these debates and at a lot of rallies and have never experienced something like this.”
During the Providence rally at the state’s Capitol building, an estimated 150 protesters surrounded the rally of nearly 250, shaking rocks in bottles to make loud noises, according to Brown. Brown said the protesters then entered the crowd shouting in the faces of the marriage supporters. Several even rushed the stage during Brown’s speech.
“As I was speaking, three protesters jumped in front of the podium and started screaming in my face as I was trying to speak,” Brown said. “This is the face of tolerance, they say they want tolerance, but look at how they act when they are confronted with ideas they do not agree with.”
The gay rights activists did not just harass the adult participants. According to Brown, children at the rally were also targets of the verbal vitriol as gay rights activists reportedly called the children names and taunted them, using such language as: “Are mommy and daddy raising you to be a little bigot” or “is mommy a bigot?”
“I’ve never seen this kind of hate and border-line violence, I mean going after children? Making them cry? I’ve never seen it before,” Brown said.
“We need to confront this hate with love and respect,” Brown continued. “People were scared and I was really worried something dangerous would occur. These people were just so mad and screaming so loudly I was concerned it could get physical.”
The Capitol police eventually called in the State Highway Patrol to help restore order. No arrests were made.
Fred Sainz, vice president at the Human Rights Campaign, told TheDC that regardless of what has happened on the ground, he does not think the intentions of the tour are as innocent as they appear. “It is less about traditional marriage and more of an elaborate stunt,” he said. “They want this type of harassment for lawsuits so that they are able to pepper their suits with stories and hide the identities of their donors.”
Gallagher, on the other hand, sees these tours as providing an opportunity to expose the gay rights movement. “Because we were there with cameras we were able to show a face of the gay rights movement that the mainstream media refuse to show,” she said.
The “Summer of Marriage Tour” will end on August 15th with a rally in Washington, D.C.