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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs