First Hand Account: On The Ground At The March For Marriage
By Thomas Burke
This morning roughly 2500 people gathered on the National Mall for the March For Marriage, a demonstration supporting traditional marriage between a man and a woman. The participants hope to influence the Supreme Court hearings underway this week regarding two issues:
- California’s Proposition 8, a referendum that amended the state’s constitution to define marriage as strictly between one man and one woman in that state; and,
- the Defense of Marriage Act, known to politicos as DOMA, which defines marriage for federal purposes as between one man and one woman, and leaves states the right to decide the same within their own borders.
NOM President Brian Brown: “That is not our group, that is not what we believe, and we condemn in the strongest terms any hatred toward any individual in any way.” – On Westboro Baptist Church
Christianity played the dominant role as the impetus for the day’s rally. At the starting point on the mall, a band led the crowd in the worship song “How Great is Our God,” and a group chanted in Spanish, “What Jesus says, that’s what we’ll do.” The archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, gave the opening invocation. Cordileone was one of the early proponents of Proposition 8, helping to draft it in 2008.
The National Organization for Marriage was a primary sponsor of the event, and its president Brian Brown gave opening remarks. He called for decorum from all participants, and advised that if anyone tried to block the march, everyone should kneel down and pray. Brown instructed:
A yellow banner held across First Street barred the March For Marriage from continuing for a few minutes while supporters of same-sex marriage filled the street in front of them.
Remember why we are here. This is about love and respect. This is about standing up for the truth and beauty of marriage. There may be those that have hatred in their hearts on either side of the issue. … We need to never retaliate. … It is not bigoted to stand up for the truth about marriage.
Brown also announced to attendees that present along the march route was a group from Westboro Baptist Church, which is known for its inflammatory
signs and its protests at military funerals. He strongly condemned the approach of Westboro and its “hateful and vile signs,” stating:
That is not our group, that is not what we believe, and we condemn in the strongest terms any hatred toward any individual in any way.
America’s youth were out in force, and early, their voices carrying well in the cold air. When asked about recent polls that show growing support for gay marriage, John Bowden of Utah said: