February 2005 (v7 i4)
Counting the Ways Since 1997
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Abortion activists miss attention, self-worth
Anti-gay marriage activists enjoy national spotlight
by Kathryn Edwards, Associate Editor

“So, do you wanna make out or what?”
WASHINGTON — The recent media attention bestowed upon the issue of gay marriage has left many longtime abortion activists feeling left out and ignored, says a spokesman for pro-life group Decide on Life.

"I remember the time when carrying oversized posters of dead fetuses was thrilling," explained Mary Kayne, who recently retired from Decide on Life. "The weight of the sign, the stares of the people walking by — I always thought of it as my days in the trenches. It was all different then."

Starting with the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, in 1996, gay marriage has been thrust into the political spotlight. Most recently, it was a topic of heated debate in the 2004 election.

Decide on Life, a respected pro-life organization known for its public activism and lobbying power, has seen a 44 percent drop in membership since the 1996 election and a subsequent decrease of funds from right-wing donors. The group blames these numbers on the "showy fad" known as anti-gay marriage activism.

"Protesting gay marriage has suddenly become the 'it' thing to do," commented spokesman James Inman. "As far as the moral culpability incurred, it doesn't compare to killing the unborn. We're still more important than they are."

To some longtime abortion protestors, however, it doesn't feel that way. Kayne, who began her campaign against abortion with the Roe v. Wade decision, knows that the "good old days" are over.

"Rallies, marches, protests — they just aren't the same as they used to be. Something about getting older, I guess, but I know I could never again camp outside the Capitol for 11 straight days, chanting 'Hey hey, ho ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go'."

Kayne wistfully flipped through an old photo album before continuing: "Here's me chained to the columns of the Supreme Court. Oh, to be young again."

At the head office of anti-gay marriage group Coalition for a Moral Family Order, however, the young staff was upbeat and energetic about their ongoing campaign, which they deny is a fad.

"I've heard some naysayers claim that we're just reveling in our 15 minutes," explained Coalition founder Jason Shirley, "But I think it's obvious that some groups are jealous that we got prime election coverage. Our issue is important, and we deserve media attention."

The Coalition has an ambitious agenda for the new year, which has led many abortion activists like Inman to assert that the group has "spread itself too thin" and "lacks true activist conviction."

Shirley responded to this claim by lifting his shirtsleeve and revealing a tattoo reading, "DOMA 4 EVA."

"Tell me now that we don't have conviction," commented Shirley. "Although I've only had one opportunity to chain myself to the columns of the Supreme Court, I plan to do so as often as I can."

Political and media analyst George Burton explained the recent power shift as taking place in complex social and media contexts.

"It's not that the people care less about either issue, it's simply a matter of media attention and legislative action. No issue can stay popular forever, and there just haven't been any major moves to make abortion-related laws. The right to life of an unborn fetus just isn't as exciting right now. C'est la vie."

The Republican Party Chairman issued a statement explaining that the party finds both issues of equal weight and import.
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