Editors' Note:Guest blogger Ed Kennedy is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force who was born and raised in West Virginia. After 20 years of traveling the country and the globe, he's come back to West Virginia to be the best uncle he can be. He writes about entertainment and pop culture for AfterElton.com
Maggie Gallagher and the National Organization for Marriage rolled into Charleston, WV today for their Summer of Marriage Tour. They had big plans for a rally on the steps of our gold domed Capitol building. Too bad for her the mountain state wasn't interested.
With the heat climbing into the mid-90s, the 28 people who had assembled refused to leave the shade to the side of the plaza, and NOM was forced to move their sound system to accommodate a tiny crowd that cared so little for their message they would rather sit in the shade than move to face Maggie.
The crowd even refused to rise to check out the table of free t-shirts, signs, and stickers. Despite all efforts, there would be little evidence that the National Organization for Marriage came to town. They had two pastors, but not enough of an audience to fill a pew.
More including photos and video after the jump.
So for the first time in her life, Maggie changed to accommodate other people, even if it was just her location. The NOM Tour Trackers were present to document the affair, but noticeably absent was any sort of counter-protest. The police were standing ready, but no one came to challenge Maggie. She stood and spoke to 28 people by count of a reporter for WV Public Radio, because West Virginians had better things to do.
Fairness WV held their own event two blocks away in the beautiful Living AIDS Memorial Garden. Surrounded by flowers and trees, Stephen Skinner of Fairness WV spoke to a crowd of 100 diverse equality activists. The crowd was multi-cultural, with children, parents, politicians, and grandparents. Church groups stood beside women's advocates, PFLAG and the ACLU to celebrate families of all stripes and kinds. Music played, sandwiches were served, and dogs snacked on cookies stolen from inattentive children's plates.
If there's one thing that matters to the state I grew up in, it's family. Maggie can drive into town in her fancy bus anytime she wants to preach about what she thinks marriage is, but she has no idea what a family is. And family will always win against hate.
In their haste to control the meaning of the word "marriage" Maggie and NOM fail to see the damage they do to families. Marriage equality, and equality in general, is about strengthening families whether they are gay, straight, or most likely, just a little bit of both. It enhances the bonds from mother to son, spouses, and families of friends we chose.
I spoke to Stephen Skinner of Fairness WV about their work in the state, and why they choose to celebrate all families today instead of a direct protest of NOM coming into our state with an agenda that didn't match West Virginia values.