NOM Marriage Picnic

Conservatives in this state must share a certain apprehension as they drive to ideologically tinted events — hoping that somebody shows up, but not the wrong people, and maybe it’ll be an indication of our powerlessness, but what if we have to prove ourselves in front of a one-time crowd… Well, tea parties aside, the traditional marriage event that National Organization for Marriage Rhode Island is hosting at Aldrich Mansion in Warwick is definitely among the best attended right-leaning events that I’ve attended thus far. In fact, I may have to allocate some Anchor Rising resources to pay a parking ticket, since I’m not sure the line of cars down the street is actually legal:

And talk about gemstone corners of Rhode Island:

From where I sit on the stairs overlooking the lawn and the bay, I think I’m looking directly at the hill down which I walked my dog countless times and marveled at the view though I had no idea what I was looking at. How can Rhode Island encompass Rhode Island? [I apologize if that thought seems scattered, but I was interrupted midsentence by somebody who wanted to impress his young charges with the fact that I speak regularly with Matt Allen… certainly not an interruption that I minded!] Whatever else this event proves, a major takeaway is just how abstract and intellectual is the argument that “fiscal conservatives” and libertarians can jettison us social conservatives. Attendance aside, this is by far the most diverse crowd that I’ve seen at any conservative event. You want hope shaking the opposition to its core? Come to an event like this.
I wonder if that explains some of the disgusting vitriol that social and religious conservatives attract from progressives…
Here’s NOM-RI Executive Director Chris Plante:

And NOM President Maggie Gallagher:

And to be fair and balanced, here’s the protest out on the street just after Gallagher’s speech:

I don’t agree with everything that the speaker who initiated the marriage vow renewal section of the program said. He ends the following clip, for example, thus:

You have not defined marriage, you have not shaped marriage, and you have not set its boundaries in place; rather, marriage has defined you. It has shaped you, and it has set boundaries in goodly places. And so it should be. We all choose to submit to marriage and should never seek to have marriage submit to us.

In terms of the functioning of marriage, as an institution, married couples do indeed define and shape the institution, which is why society must encourage them to respect the boundaries that it imposes. Put differently, it is because our own relationships define marriage that we must submit to it.
But minute disputes aside, hearing this speaker (especially in the context of the day) contributes to the sense that there’s something peculiar about protesting such an event:

There were children running around with their faces panted. There were bouncy houses. The bulk of the performances weren’t political, but musical. If right-wingers were to protest a similar gay family day organized by a group that advocates for same-sex marriage on a lazy summer Sunday, they’d rightly be lumped in with the Phelps family, but on the left, the impulse to protest — to frighten away attendees concerned with what their children might witness — is mainstream.
The small group of protesters who showed up, however, did evoke the tragedy of the issue. For the most part, they only wish to be accepted, to live their lives in as close an accord as possible to the ideals that the culture had put forward to them, but their ordering inclines incompatibly. Their predicament (meant neutrally) is one through which our culture has only recently begun to wend its rules, and understandably, they wish for it to bend as they desire.
Marriage is what it is, though, and it would be to universal detriment to divorce it from the principle that men and women are uniquely compatible with each other in ways of breadth and depth that no other relationship to similitude.
One absence that didn’t strike me until I was getting ready to leave was that of politicians. The only candidate or current elected official whom I saw was Will Grapentine, and he’s more ubiquitous at conservative events than either Caprio or the governor.

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14 years ago

“hoping that somebody shows up, but not the wrong people, and maybe it’ll be an indication of our powerlessness”
Who are the wrong people?? If the mayors
of Providence or Warwick showed up would
they be considered the “wrong people”?
Since the event is in Warwick, what if Rep Frank Ferri showed up?
Would serial adulterer Newt Gingrich be considered “wrong people” at this pro
marriage event?

Justin Katz
14 years ago

I was writing more generally about the anxieties that can come prior to an event held by a political minority in Rhode Island, not this event in particular: You want the event to be successful, but you’re nervous about performing well in front of a large group; you want there to be a variety of people, but whatever the theme of the event, you hope to be well received. It’s more of a human condition statement than a statement of us versus them.

14 years ago

Well played by both sides. Maybe it was the beautiful summer day, or the surroundings (which I remember fondly from attending Hendricken in the days when the mansion grounds and seminary served as our senior campus).
It was best for both sides that the politicians stayed away. The absence of the Carcieris from the podium probably contributed most to what sounds like a positive vibe.
It was good to hear the marriage vow speaker end with a positive message. Maybe a good number of people at this event were here more to celebrate marriage than to deny it to another subsection of people.

14 years ago

You were looking at upper Narragansett Bay. Directly across the bay in the photo you displayed one would be looking at Barrington between Nyatt Point and Rumstick. If you had pointed the camera a little to the right Colt State Park would be in view and a small white and green speck in that general line of sight would have been me in my boat until around 11am.

14 years ago

I was at Colt last Sunday, and it yields a clear view of the mansion and seminary grounds across the bay.

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