Steve Chapman

But the protesters, separated from the NOM group by police tape, are not deterred. They have lots of handmade signs -- notably "Jesus Had 2 Dads and He Turned Out OK, Right?" and "Traditional Marriage = 1 Divorced Man + 1 Divorced Woman." And they rarely flag in chanting "Hey, hey, ho, ho, homophobia's got to go" and "Take your hate out of our state."

The racket continues throughout the rally, which does not seem to surprise the NOM advocates. They spend much of their time denouncing their opponents for trying to shout them down -- which, given that NOM has loudspeakers and the protesters don't, is unlikely to happen.

Violence or bullying would make good footage for NOM, which has a videographer on hand, but the crowd of mostly young people is not in that sort of mood. Are they loud? Sure. Obnoxious? No doubt, if you're on the receiving end. Scary? Not a bit.

If they are going to storm the stage, they will have to trample over me on their way, and I detect no reason for worry. A couple of them even lean over the police tape asking for hugs from the NOM supporters. (They get a few takers.)

It's hard to get terribly outraged when a group that goes out of its way to be drowned out by its critics almost gets drowned out by its critics. But the people here to support "traditional marriage" can accurately claim that they have been impeded in their effort to communicate their views.

You see, NOM and its allies attest that after all, they don't want to deny the other side the right to speak. They just want to enjoy the same right.

To which the other side might reply: Hmm. Kind of like what we say about marriage.

Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.

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