What Was It Like to Be at the Supreme Court When the Marriage Equality Judgement Was Announced?

Rainbow flag against sky during gay pride parade
Rainbow flag against sky during gay pride parade

What was it like at the Supreme Court when the marriage equality judgment was announced?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

I arrived at the Supreme Court building at about 9:25 and waded directly into the crowd. It was a big crowd. We're talking hundreds and hundreds of people. The mood was very festive. Many people had brought their kids and even their little dogs. People were reasonably confident of a positive decision but still a little wary. Everyone was friendly and animated. People were handing out little flags from the Human Rights Campaign and the ACLU, "Proud to be a Democrat" stickers, signs that read "America is Ready," and rainbow buttons with President Obama on them. Chatted with the woman next to me, who had brought her teenaged daughter. She said she was from "the reddest, most horrible part of Michigan, but I hope soon that won't matter anymore."

There was a lot of jovial speculation about what Justice Scalia's dissent might be like.

MSNBC estimated at least a 10:1 ratio between supporters and opponents of same sex marriage in the crowd. I would peg it at more like 20:1 or even 25:1 or 30:1. There was one guy in a black t-shirt covered with Biblical references to Sodom and Gomorrah. The vast majority of the crowd were gay rights supporters who were there in the hope of seeing justice done. Several of them were Christians with colorful signs proclaiming their support for marriage equality.

In addition to the two above I saw other people with signs that said things like "I'm an Evangelical for Marriage Equality."

There was a guy with a giant homemade sign collage proclaiming that the wages of sin are death, and that HIV/AIDS are God's wrath. There were a few other "Christian" demonstrators but they disappeared relatively quickly after the decision came out.

A minute or two after 10 am we saw "the running of the interns" carrying copies of the decision and dissents to the various TV reporters waiting at their setups on the sidewalk. At about this time somebody who had been able to load SCOTUSblog on his phone started shouting, "We won! 5 to 4!" Everyone started cheering and hugging.

I was standing next to about 20 guys in identical blue t-shirts, who turned out to be the DC Gay Men's Chorus, and just a minute or two later they began to sing the national anthem. Everyone around me joined in. We were all singing the national anthem and by the end of it I was crying like a baby. I am almost 59 years old and in my whole life I have never been prouder to be an American.

They followed it up with a wonderful song called "Make Them Hear You," about fighting for justice. I cried some more.

I started wandering around, listening to snippets of the various standup reports being done by the TV news people, taking pictures for groups of people who wanted to get pictures with the Supreme Court building in the background. I was interviewed by a reporter and cameraperson from ThinkProgress and while I haven't seen the video I believe I was reasonably coherent, although I'm sure my eyes were still full. I'll post it here if I ever find it online.

The Gay Men's Chorus started singing again. They repeated the national anthem and "Make Them Hear You," then added "The Impossible Dream," which was incredibly moving, and then they sang some modified lyrics to "We Shall Overcome." "We shall marry free / we shall marry free / we shall marry free today..."

I never got close enough to hear any of the remarks by the plaintiffs, their counsel, or the lawyers representing the other side. But we had set our TiVo to record MSNBC from 10 am till noon, and I was able to watch that after I got back.

This decision was exceptionally meaningful for me because my old friend Evan Wolfson is the godfather of the marriage equality movement. He is the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, and spoke today on MSNBC about his plan to unwind the organization now that it has achieved its objective.  We've been friends for almost 40 years and I'm so proud of him that I could burst.

tl;dr It was amazing.

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