The “Summer of Marriage Tour” made a tumultuous stop in Madison on Tuesday. Approximately two dozen traditional marriage supporters were outnumbered by some 200 members of the LGBT community and their supporters, as speakers in support of traditional marriage rallied on the Capitol steps. The counter protest began on the Library Mall at UW Madison, where John Becker of Milwaukee defended his marriage to Michael Knoppen. “We know what it’s like to have our loved used as a political weapon,” said Becker. “But love is stronger than hate. Their hatred of our marriage will never be stronger than my love for my husband.” Counter protesters marched down State Street to the Capitol, where the Tour stop, a project of the National Organization for Marriage, took place.
“Hate is not a family value, and let me tell you something, the sixty percent of Wisconsin(ite)s who crossed lines of race and creed and color, to step up to protect marriage in the Wisconsin constitution, are not haters,” said NOM President, Maggie Gallagher. Officers from the Capitol Police were on hand to keep the two sides separate, and the traditional marriage supporters spoke in an area cordoned off by yellow police tape. Julaine Appling of Wisconsin Family Action, the group which spearheaded the assault on same sex unions which led the adoption of Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment, was also among the speakers. “Thank you to all of you who have taken time to join us today,” Appling said. “Thank you for taking time away from your families, because you have real families.”
The crowd may have had Appling in mind with the chant “you need a hug, a big gay hug,” although they could have just as easily been directing that towards state Senator Glenn Grothman. The West Bend Republican wasn’t going to be shouted down. “They want to shout you down because they want to prevent people from hearing the truth,” said Grothman. “And I think one reason they’re here today, is they know deep down inside, that you’ve got the truth, and they don’t.”