The notion of separation of church and state ensures piety doesn’t influence policy, yet the arguments against same-sex marriage outside the U.S. Supreme Court last week often ended up flush with religious overtones.
Several members of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church arrived outside the court around 9:15 a.m. on March 26. They immediately began playing remakes of popular songs with their messages being used instead of the traditional lyrics.
The group has gained notoriety for its multicolored signs that read “God Hates Fags” and other anti-gay messages.
Rebecca Phelps-Davis said it was absolutely necessary they were there while the court heard oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor, California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act cases, respectively.
“If the Supreme Court does what it most definitely will do, … the destruction of this nation is imminent,” Phelps-Davis said. “It will be destroyed, as it was in the days of Noah.”
She said that this time, God would use a different technique.
“Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire as a foretastes of what is coming to this nation when it’s destroyed by fire,” Phelps-Davis said.
Throughout the hour and a half that Westboro was in front of the court, some pro-same-sex marriage supporters hurled insults at them, usually geared toward their signs, although one yelled, “Jesus was a f—-t.”
Phelps-Davis said she was used to the treatment and wasn’t worried.
“We go with our God before us and behind us,” she said. “There’s no reason to be scared. We are doing what the Lord, our God, has put in our hearts to do, and that’s deliver this word, what he has given us from his word to this nation.”
Other protesters gathered for a large rally on the National Mall. A stage was erected between Capitol Hill and the Washington Monument, and a couple of thousand people expressed support for traditional marriage.
Robert Stone drove through the night with his wife and three children, from Missouri to Washington, to participate in the rally. He held a tall sign that read, “1M + 1W makes sense biologically, philosophically, theologically, historically, economically.”
When Prop 8 was passed in 2008, Stone resided in California, which gave him extra incentive to come to Washington and picket.
“We would like to see the will of the people stand and the Supreme Court not overturn the definition of marriage,” Stone said. “I don’t believe that five people in the Supreme Court have the right to overturn the will of the people.”
Polling data from various groups has indicated a growing level of acceptance for same-sex couples among Americans, but Stone pointed out how sometimes polls can be wrong.
“The polls before North Carolina’s vote on the definition of marriage, before California’s vote … were all the other side is going to win,” Stone said.
Both states have prohibited same-sex marriage through ballot initiatives. Once the attendees were let out of the court at around noon, the crowd of roughly 1,000 began to dissipate. By 2 p.m., only a handful of supporters, several members of the media and the line-standers for the DOMA case the following day remained.