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Utah Activists Use Gay Parents' Kids to Oppose Marriage Equality

Utah Activists Use Gay Parents' Kids to Oppose Marriage Equality
Sunnivie Brydum

A rally held at Utah's state capitol Thursday saw religious conservatives turn out to fight marriage equality and claim that kids of same-sex couples are the "victims" of "redefining marriage."

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that an estimated "several hundred" activists opposed to marriage equality held a two-hour rally in the rotunda of the state capitol in Salt Lake City, frequently projecting photos of children raised by same-sex couples onto a screen as supposedly tragic examples of the outcome of legal same-sex marriage. 

As demonstrators carried pink and blue signs claiming that every child deserves "a mom and a dad" and "biology is not bigotry," organizers flashed an image of Matthew Baraza and Tony Milner holding their son, Jesse.

"This child has a mother," organizer Mary Summerhays told the crowd, according to the Tribune. "These are the faces of the children who will pay the price of redefining marriage." 

Screening a photo of Megan Berrett and Candice Green-Berrett, a lesbian couple who are now suing the state to recognize their marriage and allow Berrett to legally adopt the daughter her wife recently gave birth to, Summerhays reiterated her argument. 

"I'm sure these girls would make great mothers," Summerhays said, apparently disregarding the fact that the women are already raising their daughter. "But one thing they can never make or be is one of each."

Both same-sex couples are among those plaintiffs suing the state to recognize their legal marriages performed late last year, after a federal court overturned Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, resulting in a 17-day window in which such marriages were legal in the state before the Supreme Court placed a hold on that decision. More than 1,300 same-sex couples married during that time. The litigation seeking recognition of those marriages is separate from the Utah marriage case currently pending before the Supreme Court. 

The rally was organized by Utah Celebration of Marriage, which appears to be based in Provo, according to its blog. That blog features a veritable who's who of antigay pundits in its "resources" section, including articles written by Tony Perkins, the leader of certified anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council, and former National Organization for Marriage board member and Ruth Institute founder Jennifer Roback Morse.

Thursday's rally included an address from Gene C. Schaerr, the lead counsel defending Utah's ban on same-sex marriage at the U.S. Supreme Court. The Tribune reports that Schaerr was greeted with a standing ovation. Similarly, Rep. LaVar Christensen, the author of the original 2004 constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage in the state and was approved by more than 65 percent of Utah voters, received a warm reception and claimed that the law protects children. 

Advocates fighting for marriage equality in Utah were outraged at the antigay group's willingness to misrepresent photos of happy families headed by same-sex couples as evidence of the danger of "redefining marriage." The interim director of Equality Utah called Thursday's rally and the use of photos of children, a "disgrace," according to the Associated Press

"It is one thing to disagree with the freedom to marry, it's quite another to go after loving parents and their children at a political rally," Equality Utah director Marina Goldberg said Friday in a statement on behalf of Utah Unites for Marriage.

Utah is one of five states currently defending its ban on same-sex marriage in federal court, and its case could be one of those which the U.S. Supreme Court considers hearing after its first session conference on September 29.

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