The Sexist

D.C. Gay Marriage Day: The Happy Couples and the Smiling Bigots

photo (4)

It's the debut of gay marriage in Washington, D.C., and the first batch of couples to snake through the D.C. Superior Court Marriage Bureau are ready to step in front of the cameras. But first, they've got to be coached on how to exit the building. Sultan Shakir, organizer for the Campaign for All D.C. Families, huddles around about five couples on the fourth floor of the courthouse, ready to usher them through the next step in their relationships.

"Outside, there are some cameras, and the Michael Phelps people are out there, too," he says.

"Michael Phelps!" one soon-to-be-married guy exclaims.

"Oh, no, sorry, not Michael Phelps. Fred Phelps. I wish Michael Phelps were here," says Shakir.

"Who's Fred Phelps?"

"You know, the crazy, you're going to hell, God hates you people. Don't worry about it. You'll recognize them."

Some of the soon-to-be-married take a bathroom break. Angelisa Young heads back to the cashier's counter to retrieve the box of celebratory cupcakes she had forgotten in the rush. One heads off in search of her partner—"I mean, my wife, I guess!" she says.

One couple receives some individualized instruction. "When you exit the building, you're going to just go straight toward the microphone," another handler informs Young and Sinjoyla Townsend—gay marriage couple no. 1. They will be flanked by two supporters and who will help them walk the 50 feet to the press area, where about 100 reporters, photographers, supporters, and protesters have gathered to ask them a few questions. "Just look at your paperwork. Just concentrate on that. If they ask you any questions, just focus on you. Focus on this moment, and your excitement. . . . just share your stories."

"They're calling us to come out," Shakir says, after receiving a call on his cell. "The Phelps people are out there." The caravan descends down three escalators to the courthouse's ground floor and pauses right outside the glass doors. "Wait, wait, Sultan, how do you want us to walk out?" someone calls out. Inside the doors, yet another handler takes over. He stands in front of the group and calmly introduces them to the scene outside. "As you can see, outside there are a lot of cameras," he says. The Phelps family will be on the left—ignore them. "There's a tripod set up with a microphone. People are going to ask you questions. It's going to be kind of a free-for-all. There's no set way this is going to happen," he says. Young and Townsend are summoned—they want the first couple to go first. "Ready? Let's go."

The doors open. The throng of on-lookers, corralled behind a barrier, lets out an extended cheer. You can't even see the "FAGS WED" sign through the crowd. The couples approach and begin to tell their stories into the microphone as dozens of cameras reach for a shot. Shakir stands at the very back. He is cheering the loudest. Right behind him, the Phelpses are attempting to make their voices heard.

"You will always be miserable!" screams one woman who has two protest signs in hand, an American flag wrapped around her waist, and "GodHatesFags.Com" emblazoned across her chest. A small child stands next to her with a "FAGS DOOM NATIONS" sign and a blank expression. The woman, though, she is smiling. "This is a very important event," she tells me. "Because this is the final straw!" I ask if she means the Apocalypse. "No need to get fancy," she says. "I'm not trying to be rude. That will come later—this nation's DOOM will come first!"

The couples at the front of the crowd can't hear her. Their supporters have begun to sing: "This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine."

She counters: "This little feces pile, it's really gonna stink!"

"This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine."

"You're dragging this nation into your crap!"

Shakir shoots her a look. He claps loudly and turns back to the happy couples. He says: "WOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Photo by Michael, courtesy of the The New Gay

  • Chuck Anziulewicz

    I know there is all kinds of wailing and gnashing of teeth among the usual social conservatives over this … but let me reassure you: The advent of marriage equality for Gay couples will have absolutely ZERO effect on “traditional marriage.” The first state to allow Gay couples to marry, Massachusetts, still has the lowest divorce rate in the country. In all the states where Gay couples are allowed to legally marry or enter into civil unions, Straight couples continue to date, get engaged, marry, and build lives and families together as they always have. To be honest, if you think that YOUR marriage is going to suffer because the Gay couple down the street is allowed to get married also, I think YOU’RE the person who needs counseling.

    From a purely Constitutional standpoint, marriage equality for Gay couples has been a long time coming. The only difference between Gay and Straight couples is the sexual orientation of the two people in the relationship. It has nothing to do with religion, since the only thing a church can offer any couple is a ceremony; it is the federal government that bestows the 1,138 legal benefits, according the Government Accounting Office.

    It also has nothing to do with raising children, since a couple does not need to be married to have children, nor is the ability or even desire to have children a prerequisite for obtaining a marriage license.

    This is about equal treatment as stipulated by the 14th Amendment. You can quote Scripture until the cows come home, but the fact remains that there is simply no Constitutional justification for denying law-abiding, taxpaying Gay couples the exact same legal benefits, protections, and responsibilities that Straight couples have always taken for granted.

  • Bill

    This all leaves me wondering why heterosexuals would deny their very own gay offspring the same rights that they have.

    What kind of a human being would advocate for that???

    (That's rhetorical, BTW.)

  • Rick Mangus

    Where's FRED?

  • freddiegaie22

    Where's Fred? He's at home readying his suite in hell

  • sydnerella

    Fred Phelps is a joke. His whole family is a joke. I want to see a, to even things out.

    The funny thing is, he apparently used to be a civil rights attorney. HA.

  • WhatThePoo

    It's hard to believe a civil rights lawyer could spew such obvious tripe. One of the songs Shirley Phelps-Roper, Fred's prodigy, was singing on this grand and glorious day was about the Jews doom (WTF?). I don't know why, but I had to find it online and listen to their studio version.

  • Rick Mangus

    I MISSED FRED!, I was hoping for another round with him. In the 1993 March, I shoved Fred on his bigoted ass in Freedom Plaza. The police told me to move on, but friends of mine who were there and said Fred got up off his ass and shouted at the police to find the guy who shoved him so he could bring charges. The police told Fred that I disappeared into the crowd, even-tho I was standing next to them, I loved it!!!!!

  • Denise Brogan-Kator

    My fervent hope is that the young child with the Phelps' clan is het. Can you imagine the self-esteem problems that poor youngster will have if he (she?) turns out to be gay? ::sigh:: I will never understand blind hatred.


  • Em

    Rick, I don't know you, but you have my eternal esteem for pushing that old bigot onto his ass. Love it. The mental image will have my smiling for days.

    And feel so sorry for the kids. They're brainwashed--they'll either grow up to be just like their parents or need years of therapy to lead normal lives.

  • Mary in Los Angeles

    God bless the Westboro Baptist Church for not backing down in the face of wickedness and Godless adversity. Jesus didn't die on the cross so you can wallow in your favorite sin like a pig in poop. Poop still stinks and homosexuality is still an abomination, so choose this day whom you will serve ... God or Satan. If God, then repent.

  • MaryNeedsToRereadHerBible

    Mary, go read your Bible again. God HATES NO ONE. God LOVES EVERYONE. GOD IS LOVE. Passing on a message like that is infinitely more of an abomination than homosexuality could ever be. Think how many people Fred Phelps and his family (and you for that matter) have turned away from God by spewing such hateful messages (and not just about homosexuality). Who do you think God will judge more harshly? A mere homosexual who only tried to show love to another human being? Or people like you and Fred, who spew incredibly hateful and disgusting rhetoric that will turn countless individuals away from God and His boundless love. I pray that you will see the error of your ways and repent while there is still time. If God weren't so forgiving, it woudl take a lot more than mere penitence to make up for the evil you profess to others.

  • Rick Mangus

    'Mary in Los Angeles', This is DC not LA, you got you're own problems to worry about.

    I think the combination of the smog and all the rain, the mud slides and the fact that you are menstruating has clouded you're judgement. Go relax take some Midol get your favorite vibrator and watch Pat Robinson and you will be just fine, trust me!

  • PrettyAmiable

    FWIW, at least the most hateful of bigots are funny. They speak like bad second-tier villains before the big boss fight. Mary apparently hasn't heard about separation of church and state and isn't worth a second of rational thought.

    It's the latent bigots that terrify me.

    Rick, please don't suggest her fervent bigotry is a result of some time-of-the-month issue. It's demeaning to women. I'm not ignorant just because I have a vagina.

  • Beth

    Every wedding has the crazy, unlikeable relative who says something snide in the receiving line. Glad the Phelpses were there to make sure the marriage experience was truly complete for these first couples.

  • Jackie

    Ugh... I happen to be rather devoutly Christian, and honestly, people like Phelps and Pat Robinson make me very, very angry. If you want to be a pig headed ignorant baffoon, by all means, go for it. But don't be so incourteous as to drag my faith and belief down into the mud with you. Seriously. Way to go, invalidating your "religious beliefs" to millions of people and driving untold numbers from what is supposed to be a message of love and acceptance with your hate spewing dogmatism. Now, if you would kindly shut the hell up, I'm pretty sure God is getting fed up with all the "help" you're lending.

  • Brennan

    Let it shine,
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine.

  • abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

    GOD LOVES EVERYONE! NO MATTER WHAT! WBC just takes the scripture and twists it around into something that they want to believe. That is SICK!!!!! God is not happy with you, I know he's not very happy at the world because there are alot of people who dont believe in God or Jesus Christ. Which is sad. WBC is a liying group of people.

    LAY OFF SERIOUSLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    GOD LOVES EVERYONE THE SAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!