WASHINGTON – Advocates and opponents of same-sex marriage unfurled banners and handed out American flags on the Supreme Court steps Tuesday morning as the justices prepared to hear arguments over Proposition 8, the California initiative that banned gay marriage.
Mike Krzywonos, 57, took a bus to Washington from Rhode Island to stand in front of the court and defend the idea of marriage as being only between a man and woman. "We are the silent majority," said Krzywonos, a retired factory machinist, his breath coming out in puffs in the crisp morning air.
He held a banner that read: "Faith Alliance to Preserve the Sanctity of Marriage as Established by God: Just because you don't get it does not give you the right to change it." Krzywonos hopes the justices uphold California's ban, blunting initiatives to legalize same-sex unions in other states, including his own.
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"If we don't fix this, this country is going down the tube fast," he said. Nearby, several hundred spectators stood in a line that extended down the block and around the corner. Wally Suphap, who grew up in Granada Hills, spent the night on the sidewalk to ensure he would get a seat in the court to hear the arguments and watch the expressions on the faces of the justices as they ask questions about the case.
"As a gay American, I want to have the right to marry in my home state," said Suphap, who works as a corporate lawyer in Hong Kong. Suphap flew to Washington just to hear the arguments. "I grew up in California. That is where my family and friends are. That is where my heart is," he said.
Suphap remembers calling his mother, Ann, in November 2008 the night before the Proposition 8 vote banned gay marriage in the state. She runs a Thai restaurant in Van Nuys called Fortune House and has always been supportive of him being gay.
But his family is divided on the politics. Suphap said he encouraged his mother to vote against the measure. “She quickly changed the subject,” he said. “I think she voted for it,” he said.
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