The anti-gay marriage Summer for
Marriage Tour 2010 bus tour hit its first major road block Sunday in
Providence, Rhode Island.
The campaign, sponsored by the National
Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation's most vociferous
opponent of gay marriage, kicked off last week in Augusta, Maine and
is expected to make stops in 23 eastern cities before docking in
Washington D.C. on August 15.
The tour drew little attention at its
inaugural stop, drawing less than 100 people, according to the Boston
Gay marriage supporters staged a
counter rally at the State House that featured Maine Governor John
Baldacci signed a gay marriage law
approved by lawmakers last year. But opponents, backed by NOM,
campaigned to put the law on the ballot and voters vetoed the law in
In Providence, about 175 counter
demonstrators clashed with an estimated 150 gay marriage foes on the
State House lawn.
Gay activists chanted, “Get your hate
out of our state,” as they attempted to shout down NOM's speakers.
“They simply went crazy,” NOM
President Brian Brown complained on the group's blog. “I've never
seen anything like it. The hatred was palpable. It was an
embarrassment to their cause – I only hope the word gets out, so
people can see how nuts they were.”
“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.”
The counter demonstration was organized
Action Rhode Island and backed by Marriage
Equality Rhode Island (MERI), a group lobbying for passage of a
gay marriage law in Rhode Island.
Lawmakers in the state have debated gay
nuptials for 13 years in a row.
Gay marriage backers are banking on
next year's end of Republican Governor Don Carcieri's administration,
which is term limited, to help rebuild momentum on the issue.
Carcieri and his wife Sue are members
of the local chapter of NOM.
MERI kicked off a new effort to
legalize gay marriage in the state on Friday, two days before facing
NOM's anti-gay marriage tour arrived and months before the Legislature opens,
on the steps of the State House.
“We say to all of you, join us,”
MERI Executive Director Kathy Kushnir told a crowd of about 60.
“Stand up for equality where you live, where you work and where you
The bus rolls into Trenton, New Jersey