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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid