News / USA

    US Gays Winning Allies in Battle for Marriage Rights

    US Gays Winning Allies in Battle for Marriage Rightsi
    X
    April 30, 2014 4:12 AM
    While some nations enact laws targeting homosexuals, same-sex marriage rights are expanding in the United States. Next week marks two years since President Barack Obama declared his support. Since then, the number of states where gays can legally marry has nearly tripled, and public attitudes have shifted as heterosexuals stand up for the gay people in their lives. Michael Bowman reports.
    US Gays Winning Allies in Battle for Marriage Rights
    Michael Bowman
    While some nations enact laws targeting homosexuals, same-sex marriage rights are expanding in the United States. Next week marks two years since President Barack Obama declared his support. Since then, the number of states where gays can legally marry has nearly tripled, and public attitudes have shifted as heterosexuals stand up for the gay people in their lives.
     
    Examples of the trend abound. A Maryland gay couple, Chris and Shawn Riley, wed after the state legalized same-sex marriage in 2012. The couple has the full support of Chris’ mother, Beverly Rochford. But it was not always so. Raised in a conservative Christian community, Rochford was taught from an early age that homosexuality is evil.
     
    “You weren’t even supposed to say the word ‘homosexual,’” she said. “It was a sin far above all other sins.”
     
    For years, she envisioned Chris one day marrying a woman. But at age 18, he told her he thought he was gay, sparking a crisis of family and faith. Beverly Rochford said she first tried to convince Chris he was mistaken. Then, she reached out to a Christian ministry that promised to cure homosexuality through faith, and bombarded him with religious pamphlets about God’s design for human sexuality.
     
    “Back then,” Rochford said, “I truly in my heart and soul believed that Chris had a choice, that he was choosing to be gay. I did not think he could go to heaven unless he changed. I really did believe that.”
     
    Chris Riley vividly remembers the period of friction with his mother. “It was a tug of war between the two of us,” he said.
     
    Chris feared losing his mother’s support, but did not back down. “I know what the Bible says, I know what religion says. But I also am a living example of what it is like to be inside someone who is gay. I am the person who is in here. I know how it [my sexuality] evolved. It wasn’t a choice.”
     
    Views change
     
    Over time, Beverly Rochford was able to reconcile church teachings with the reality of a gay son - and, now, a gay son-in-law. She said she remains a fervent practicing Christian, but her views on homosexuality have changed.
     
    “I just want them [Chris and Shawn] to feel loved,” she said. “They are children of God. I am a child of God. How can we help the gay community if all we do is call them an abomination?”
     
    Rochford is part of a growing legion of heterosexual allies of gay people that has helped boost U.S. support for same-sex marriage to 59 percent in a recent poll - more than double the proportion that backed gay marriage rights 20 years ago.
     
    The shift is startling to opinion pollster Kim Parker of the Pew Research Center. “I have been working in polling for the last 20 years,” she said, “and I think this is one of the most dramatic changes in public opinion that we have seen.”
     
    Among the causes, according to researchers, is a basic dynamic: gay people feel increasingly comfortable revealing their sexuality, causing family, friends, and peers to rethink attitudes and beliefs.
     
    Parker said polling data confirm this. “The people that said they had moved from opposing gay marriage to favoring it, we asked them an open-ended question: ‘What changed your mind?’ And most of them said, ‘It is because I know someone who is gay and that changed my opinion, because I want the best for that person.’”
     
    Opposition remains
     
    The trend is not universal. Many faith leaders remain opposed to homosexuality. Even so, Maryland Pastor Michael Hall concedes that same sex marriage advocates are transforming public opinion.
     
    "They may win the battle,” said Hall. “It seems that way now. But we are standing pretty firm on what we believe. We are going to respectfully and lovingly disagree [on same-sex marriage]."
     
    Same-sex marriage is now legal in 17 states and the nation’s capital. In all but a handful of the other states, bans on same-sex marriage are being challenged in federal court. It is widely believed the issue ultimately will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
     
    During the 2012 battle in Maryland, State Senator Richard Madaleno saw numerous heterosexuals speak out for their gay loved ones - and the impact of their testimony.
     
    “When you have a parent come forward and say, ‘Look, this is my child. This is the child that I love. I saw them lose a house, I saw them lose a job, I saw them denied a service. That is not OK with me as a parent. I do not want that, and you should not want that for your children.’ And that changed the debate,” said Madaleno.
     
    Beverly Rochford’s evolution on homosexuality has yielded an unbreakable bond with her son, Chris, who called his current relationship with his mother “top-notch.” She has also gained a son-in-law, Shawn Riley, who said he is grateful for Rochford’s “loving daily support.”
     
    Rochford said she is awed by Chris’ journey from a tormented teenager to an openly-gay married man active in the battle to expand civil rights. “If he has the courage and the conviction to do that, I am very proud of him. I am very proud of him for doing that,” she said.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Joel Busher
    April 30, 2014 12:17 PM
    At first the American people may have questioned the wisdom of God of the Bible when He makes homosexuality a capital offense. Homosexuality seems to be a act committed by two consenting persons, but with mounting evidence and experience, we recognize the spirit of homosexuality as an iniquitous spirit that engulfs the whole community. It is a spirit that has the resilience, power, and force to corrupt and destroy an entire nation and very quickly.

    The homosexual spirit in America is showing itself to be relentless in its political activism and militant in its measures as it works to undermine civil decency standards while undermining national distinctions between good and evil. The transgressions of homosexuality is a breach of the most basic etching of God’s image and likeness, and if the soul is willing to digress from the normal course of nature, and by its actions, repudiate the very law of nature, then the path is wide open for the additional crimes of pornography, lewd and lascivious behavior, and pedophile crimes. The more homosexuality comes out in the open the more the wisdom of God is displayed in making it a capital offense.

    by: Abel Ogah from: Nigeria
    April 30, 2014 4:22 AM
    There is a difference between Christianity and christendom. These americans belong to the later. Judgement awaits them.
    In Response

    by: hamilton silva vilela from: brasil
    April 30, 2014 6:19 AM
    if bible prohibts this men relation, what is the understanding?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora