- - Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The law was at issue inside the Supreme Court chambers, but democracy was on vivid display just a stone’s throw away as supporters and opponents of gay marriage made their presence known and voices heard on the plaza outside the high court.

“I believe all Americans have the right to marry who they want,” said Virginian Eric Koszyk, 39, one of thousands who gathered as the high court began two days of historic oral arguments. Mr. Koszyk married his wife March 15 and said he wants his gay and lesbian friends to have their relationships recognized in the same way.

He said he found it upsetting that two heterosexual people can meet up in a bar in Las Vegas, decide to get married and have the union recognized everywhere in the country, but his friends who have been in committed homosexual relationships for 15 years cannot.

“I got to marry who I wanted to, and so should my friends,” Mr. Koszyk said.

Mr. Koszyk used to live in Washington state, and describes his new home state as “backwards” when it comes to same-sex marriage.

But Patricia Telemaque, 19, who came from Raleigh, N.C., with her church to protest same-sex marriage, rejected the argument that gay marriage is equivalent to the struggle for racial equality and civil rights.

“I do not wake up everyday and decide to be an African-American,” said Miss Telemaque. “It’s not a choice.”

Miss Telemaque said children do best with a mother and a father in their home, and said across-the-board statements in the media about members of her generation supporting same-sex marriage are “false.”

She said most conversations she had with people on the other side of the issue had been civil, though she added she was frustrated when they bring issues not dealing with marriage into the conversation.

“Those other issues are not what I am here for,” Miss Telemaque said.

Crowds estimated in the thousands lined the long block and filled the street in front of the Supreme Court. Officials with the U.S. Capitol police force did not give an estimate about the size of the crowd.

Antonia Arnautaki, 17, and Kyra Bell, 18, of Vienna, said it was important for them to spend part of their spring break showing their support for same-sex marriage.

The two are co-presidents of their high school’s Amnesty International chapter and also officers in their school’s Gay-Straight Alliance.

Miss Bell said she sees same-sex marriage as a civil right. Even people who do not agree, she said, should not oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage because it does not force religious groups to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.

“It is clear to us,” Antonia said. “I can’t believe we have to go to the Supreme Court to get equal rights to marriage.”

The child of a single parent who says she is happy with how she was raised, she sees no problem for children raised by a same-sex couple.

“But I understand that I am missing out on things I would have had if I had two parents, even if that other parent was another mom,” she said.

LaSaundra Morgan, 36, a single mother of five, said she came from North Carolina to protest same-sex marriage. “We love them, we just don’t agree with their perspective,” said Ms. Morgan about the pro-gay marriage activists around her.Ms. Morgan said she felt it was important for her children to have a correct understanding of marriage.

Although there were reports of shouting matches and direct one-on-one confrontations in the competing demonstrations, Ms. Morgan said most people she had met on both sides of the issue had been civil with one another.



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