August 7, 2010
By Arisha Michelle Hatch
We arrived here in Atlanta curious about what direction NOM would go today. Our arrival came on the heels of NOM refusing to allow us or openly affectionate same-sex couples into their rally in St. Louis, MO– having the police act as bouncers forced to make value judgments about the “right kind of people” to be allowed in.
While today’s event may go differently, the outpouring of support from the pro-equality community is no different. We’re standing in a crowd of 254 equality supporters standing alongside a church across the street from the State Capitol.
Mobilized by Equality Georgia, more than organizers held a rally at Woodruff Park at 12:30 before marching down to the Capitol. They stand silently holding signs.
We see that Dr. Alveda King has made it. She’s joined by only about 16 NOM supporters (Louis would call it 20 but we’re not counting you, Brian, Justin, Mike, the videographer, or the speakers).
There are about 5 other press outlets present.
We’re listening to a gospel singer sing a song called “Unity” by Vernessa Mitchell, who Brian Brown said performed at Clinton’s inauguration (one of the inaugural balls, it turns out).
It’s a beautiful rendition. The equality protesters are dancing and cheering, while NOM supporters are standing stoically.
“Unity that’s what we need…we need to show more love to one another,” the singer rifts.
Wow. That’s a new kind of messaging.
But the rest of the event has, so far, turned out to be the same old NOM.
Dr. King made a few short remarks.
“I don’t know about you but I’m not ready to be extinct,” King said to the crowd after pointing out that “it is statistically proven” that marriage between one man and one woman is the foundation of society.
Some would say that there are many more [equality] protestors here than [NOM] supporters,” Brian Brown said. “But what [about] the 70 percent of voters?” who banned same-sex marriage in Georgia.
“Children without a mom and a dad are 20 times more likely to commit a crime,” said Tonya Ditty, Georgia State Director of Concerned Women for America.
Ah, there’s the NOM we all know.
UPDATE BY ADAM (12:12 PST): Here are photos from the Equality Georgia rally and march:
UPDATE BY ADAM (1:48 PST): Anthony just radioed in- we’ll have video of Alveda King, along with Arisha’s comments, coming in soon.
UPDATE BY ADAM (1:55 PST): I want to highlight a comment from Courage’s Rick Jacobs in the comments:
I wonder if NOM and Co. understand that Chief Justice Roberts is the father of two adopted children. Does that mean that his children are not being raised properly because they were not raised by their “natural” parents?
Does NOM and Co. really mean that the tens of millions of children of divorced parents are 20 times more likely to commit crimes than those of the parents who stayed together?
They seem constantly to forget that this is about family. Family has changed in America, as Dr. Cott pointed out in the trial.
NOM is insulting not only same-sex families, but single-parent families as well, here. In Ditty’s world (and evidently NOM’s world, too), apparently only a 2.5 child nuclear family with a mom, a dad, a dog and a picket fence is the ideal. That’s disrespectful.
UPDATE BY ARISHA (1:59 PST): My streak of remaining disengaged as an interviewer was broken today in front of the Capitol building in Atlanta. I’ve interviewed Larry Adams, a NOM rally attendee, that suggested that the solution to homosexuality was lynching; I’ve interviewed a Pentecostal minister, speaking in tongues in Providence; I’ve endured Brian Brown’s spin without flinching.
But today was different.
Five minutes into my interview with Dr. Alveda King (video coming), I began to cry. I was talking about the privileges that I, as a 28 year old African American woman, have received – the privilege of going to integrated schools, never feeling as if my race or my gender were barriers to my success – when I felt my voice begin to break, my body quiver, and my eyes well up with tears.
I don’t know why. I can’t explain it.
She reached her hand out to me, offering something cliche like “you are beautiful.”
“Hold it together, Arisha,” I thought to myself.
Perhaps I was too excited about this interview. Maybe, just maybe, the anticipation of it all got the best of me. Or perhaps, I was sad to see this woman – and the King name – being used as a prop for NOM. Perhaps I expected Dr. Alveda King to actually answer my questions.
Maybe I expected too much from her.
Nonetheless, standing in front of the Capitol steps – interviewing the niece of a hero – and all I could do was cry.
UPDATE BY ADAM (2:38 PST): Here’s the video. It’s incredible.