Many advocates of marriage rights for gay couples used the spotlight on the royal wedding to seek attention for their issue. Events in London and Buffalo, in Australia and Iowa raised awareness and money for marriage equality.
The pomp and majesty of the Friday wedding at Westminster Abbey drew a global audience that many reports estimated at three billion people. From dress (elegant) to tiara (understated), from carriage (historic) to kiss (polite), each detail was dissected intently. The flood of voices and exclamations did much to drown out the few attempts to discern larger meanings in the event.
A day later, in Philadelphia, a panel on national politics at the Equality Forum included advice for those same marriage equality advocates. Use this attention to make the point that marriage does matter, Marty Rouse, national field director of the Human Rights Campaign, told 50 people gathered in a small auditorium at the University of the Arts.
It was a message meant for supporters and there may not have been many reporters in the crowd. Rouse's message, though, could start to resonate as more supporters spread the message and the debate over marriage equality sharpens in 2011 and 2012, with important legal and political events on the calendar.
Yes, Rouse, said, plenty of people will celebrate the passage of civil union legislation allowing same-sex couples dozens of the rights granted to married heterosexual couples. But civil unions are not marriages, he noted. "Millions and millions of people watched William and Kate get married yesterday," Rouse said. "Would they have done that for a civil union?"