Saturday’s Marriage March in DC Drawing Diverse, Wide-Ranging Support

People from a variety of faiths and backgrounds will participate in the pro-marriage event.

March for Marriage participants carry a banner in Washington on March 26, 2013.
March for Marriage participants carry a banner in Washington on March 26, 2013. (photo: Addie Mena/CNA)

WASHINGTON — People from a variety of faiths and backgrounds will unite in Washington on April 25 to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the third annual March for Marriage.

“It’s going to be a diverse group, and it’s going to highlight how people of different faiths and backgrounds all come together to support the truth, and marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, told CNA.

The third annual March for Marriage will take place on the National Mall in Washington and precedes April 28 oral arguments at the Supreme Court on a critical marriage case that could determine the civil definition of marriage nationwide.

The march normally takes place in June, but Brown told CNA that this year it was rescheduled to coincide with the oral arguments for Obergefell v. Hodges.

That case involves four marriage decisions by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in November. At that time, the court upheld traditional-marriage laws in the four states in its jurisdiction — Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. It was the first major victory for defense-of-marriage advocates at the federal circuit-court level.

The case is now before the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on whether same-sex couples have the legal “right to marry” nationwide under the 14th Amendment.

An avalanche of amicus briefs have been filed for both sides of the case — hundreds of businesses, states, members of Congress, mayors and religious leaders, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice, have all weighed in on marriage.

The final ruling will likely be issued near the end of June.

“The court will be deciding the most important decision on marriage that it has ever faced,” Brown said, adding that, through the march, “we have a chance to tell the court” not to “short-circuit the democratic process and put into the Constitution something that’s clearly not there.”

Defense-of-marriage advocates have argued that there is no legal right to same-sex “marriage” in the Constitution. They say that laws recognizing marriage as the union of man and woman are valid, as they recognize the uniquely procreative nature of the male-female union. Many also object to courts redefining marriage without any say from voters.

March participants have come from all over the country in the past, Brown said. The national march in D.C. is expected to draw crowds from all faiths, as smaller marches take place around the country.

“We’ll have a major turnout from Hispanic and African-American supporters,” Brown said, noting that New York Democratic state Sen. Rubén Díaz will join the New York Hispanic Clergy Association in leading “over 80, 90 buses coming from the Bronx.”

Speakers will include the papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is also supporting the march: Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, the chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, endorsed the March in an April 22 statement.

The statement noted that while Archbishop Cordileone is not able to participate this year himself, “this year’s march, which will also have a religious-liberty focus, will be attended by a number of other bishops — most notably (among others), the president of the USCCB, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville [Ky.], and the chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop William Lori [of Baltimore].”

Various Orthodox and Catholic churches and other Christian leaders, including Pastor Jim Garlow of Skyline Church in San Diego and Ryan Dobson, son of Dr. James Dobson, will also participate.

Orthodox and conservative Jews have also marched in the past, along with people of no religion who believe in traditional marriage, Brown noted.

Said Brown, “We’re marching for freedom, we’re marching for truth, and we’re marching to tell the court that it does not have the right to redefine something as fundamental as marriage as the union of a man and a woman.”