WASHINGTON – Sweat slowly slid down the sides of his cheeks as the sunshine crept over the top of the Supreme Court,heating up the back of his neck. His hands gripped the flagpole of the rainbow-striped banner he swung from side to side,using his whole body to make the flag ripple in the wind.
“It’s important to let them know it’s time,” Vin Testa,23,of D.C.,said. A ninth-grade math teacher at the District’s Roosevelt High School,Testa was on the steps of the Supreme Court on Monday,showing his support for marriage equality. He said he hoped the court would issue its decisions in the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 cases that morning. If not,he would keep coming back until it does.
To his left stood Bob Kunst,71,of Miami Beach,Fla.,in a red baseball cap. In each hand he held signs with red and silver painted letters reading: “If the Supremes say we’re 2nd class why pick up the tab?” and “It’s about time.” He,too,was there in support for gay marriage,saying there should be no taxation without representation,that the old American adage should hold true today.
“If I can’t be recognized,why should I be taxed?” Kunst,president of Shalom International,said. “I have no interest in their opinion in my lovemaking.”
The two stood in front of a crowd of dozens,all waiting to hear what the court would rule on. Phones gripped in sweaty palms,the crowd waited in eager calm. There was no chanting or shouting or dancing. Just those with signs and others with cameras to take pictures of them.
Away from the milling crowd was Ronald Brock,73,who stood across the street in a red T-shirt with the words “Jesus is the standard” across his chest. He held a sign that came up to the white beard on his chin. It showed two men kissing with the words “SODOMY” and “For the wages of sin is DEATH Romans 6:23.” He said he was standing away from the crowd so more people could see him easily.
“I’m quoting God’s word,” Brock said. He stood in opposition to Testa and Kunst,opposing marriage equality. “We’re a mess of a nation. We’ve become anti-Christian.”
The crowd waited for news while shirts darkened with sweat. The sun was rising higher over the court building.
Phil Portlock stood next to Testa and Kunst with a bright yellow sign in his wrinkled black hands,the words “Section 5” across the bottom. Portlock,71,a D.C. resident and a retired photographer for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority,was there to defend Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
“I don’t want to see us keep going backwards,readdressing history,” Portlock said. He supports Section 5,saying that it “stopped suppression and opened greater participation” for blacks in America and that he is “not ready for that to be overturned.”
A low cheer rose from the sweaty crowd as news traveled that the court ruled on the affirmative action case about the University of Texas at Austin.
But when it became clear that no other major decisions would be made that morning,Testa, Kunst and Portlock,along with the rest of crowd,quickly dissipated,leaving the TV crews and Brock behind.
Reach reporter Deanna Del Ciello at [email protected] or 202-326-9868. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.