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Young Conservatives Push For DOMA Repeal At Supreme Court

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Marriage equality supporters turned out to the Supreme Court on Wednesday to advocate for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Marriage equality supporters turned out to the Supreme Court on Wednesday to advocate for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON -- Casey Syron, 19, was probably the only person at the Supreme Court on Wednesday wearing a National Rifle Association hat. He was also holding a sign proclaiming himself to be a proud gay Republican.

"It's important to let people know that not all gay people are Democrats," said Syron, who is from Chicago but is now attending school at George Washington University. "A lot of my friends who are gay are libertarian and Republican."

Syron said he is involved with College Republicans at GWU, and several of his fellow members were joining him at the Supreme Court to push for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which says the federal government cannot recognize same-sex marriages.

The Obama administration has refused to defend DOMA in court, arguing that it's unconstitutional. House Republicans, however, have picked up the defense and hired former George W. Bush administration official Paul Clement to argue the case before the Supreme Court.

When asked what he thought of House Republicans doing this, Syron replied that it was "disgusting."

"But I don't vote on just one issue alone," he added. "We're going to see, in our future, everyone is progressive. We've got Sen. Rob Portman -- we have so many Republicans coming out and supporting gay marriage, and it's inevitable."

Tyler Deaton, secretary of the New Hampshire Young Republicans and part of Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, also spoke to attendees about the need to repeal DOMA on Wednesday, saying the issue of LGBT rights was quickly becoming nonpartisan.

"And as a conservative, I will tell you DOMA reeks of big government," Deaton said. "It treads on individual rights, it treads on the rights of families and for my state of New Hampshire and eight other great states, it disrespects our states, and it tells us our legal marriages are less than fully equal." (Watch Deaton's speech above.)

Aside from the ever-present Westboro Baptist Church members and a man dressed like George Washington who constantly shows up to tea party rallies and conservative gatherings, it was tough to find any pro-DOMA people on Wednesday. On Tuesday, this presence was larger, since the National Organization for Marriage held a march to the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, NPR's "Morning Edition" reported that it was unable to get prominent DOMA defenders to speak with the show.

"Those defending DOMA have been strangely unwilling to make their arguments outside of the court," NPR's Nina Totenberg said. "House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, declined to be interviewed for this article, as did Clement and leading House members who voted for the law. Even Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who filed a friend of the court brief supporting DOMA, was unavailable for an interview. The primary sponsor of the bill, former Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., now retired, has changed his mind and now opposes the law. President Clinton, who signed DOMA into law, has also reversed course."

In the end, the show did get Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) to share his enthusiasm for the law with listeners.

And King does remain in the majority in his party, despite Portman's recent high-profile announcement that he supports marriage equality. Only three House Republicans have backed legislation that would repeal marriage equality, and the 2012 Republican Party platform reaffirmed the GOP's opposition to same-sex marriage.

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