Supporters of both traditional marriage and same-sex unions will converge on the nation’s capital this week as the Supreme Court takes up two cases that could do to marriage what Roe v. Wade did to unborn human life.
The National Organization for Marriage is holding a March for Marriage on Tuesday morning, March 26, as the high court hears oral arguments in the first case, a challenge to California’s Proposition 8, which changed that state’s constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Arguments are expected to be heard the next day in a case contesting the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
“The Court will see diversity and strength of support for marriage as we march by,” says Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage. He expects at least 5,000 participants, including Republicans and Democrats, whites, blacks and Hispanics, Catholics and Protestants. The march will go from the National Mall near the Smithsonian, up Constitution Avenue, past the U.S. Capitol and the Supreme Court and back to the Mall. There, at about 11 am, marchers will hear from a lineup of speakers that will include San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, the U.S. bishops’ point man on protecting marriage from attempts at its legal redefinition.
The show of support is important, Brown believes, because of the justice who is often considered a “swing vote” on the court: Anthony Kennedy.
“The issue in this case is not gay rights, it’s whether the court is going to short-circuit the democratic process and by edict throw out the votes of 50 million Americans and launch a culture war,” he said, referring to the number of voters who have passed referenda protecting marriage in 31 states. “I don’t think Kennedy is going to do that but it’s critical, given his own writings and how he’s talked about the court not being too far ahead of public opinion, that we show where public opinion really is. Because there have been all sorts of bogus polls showing the United States endorses same-sex marriage. It does not. All we need to look at is the recent election results.”
A March 8 Quinnipiac University survey found that “American voter support for same-sex marriage is inching up.” Overall, it found, 47 percent of Americans support it, while 54 percent of Catholics favor its legalization.
The way the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) spun the results, the “average Catholic supports marriage equality more than the average American.” But the results, in the opinion of Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute and a speaker at the March for Marriage, were “manipulated.”
“Typically, when they ask how religious people feel about X, Y or Z, they will show some distinction between regular churchgoers and people who just say they’re Catholic,” she said in an interview. “If you look at regular church attendance as a key variable, which is what they did with every other question in that poll, Catholics do not favor the redefinition of marriage but are in favor of Church teaching on marriage. That was an obvious attempt to manipulate public opinion. “
Freedom and equality?
Referenda in Maine, Maryland, and Washington state last November legalized same-sex “marriage,” and a ballot initiative in Minnesota failed to pass an amendment to the state constitution that would have defined marriage as being only between one man and one woman. But Brown sees hope in the fact that traditional-marriage supporters “did six or seven points better than the Republican presidential ticket.”
“If we’re doing better than the top of the ticket, which spent hundreds of millions, and we spent only 10 million, this is still a winning issue in the overwhelming majority of states, and even in those states that we lost, had we been able to come anywhere near the spending of the other side I think we could have won,” he said in an interview. “But the notion that [same-sex “marriage”] is somehow inevitable… is just not right. Has there been some slippage? Yeah, but I don’t know what people would expect when our side does not get the free media that the other side does. Turn on any news channel and for the most part what you see is a regurgitation of the arguments for same-sex ‘marriage.’ We have to sort of pay to get our message out there and thus far we’ve been vastly outspent, and yet with that we’ve won California, we won North Carolina a few months before the general election with 61 percent.”
The high court will also see support for what some people term “marriage equality.” A coalition of same-sex “marriage” organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD, is organizing a vigil at the court the evening of March 25 and rallies there the mornings of March 26 and 27.
Promotional material for the rallies included the slogan “Freedom means freedom for everyone.”
“They like the words freedom and equality, but they never define those words,” said Morse. “They want equal rights on their wedding day, they want equal rights on the day they pay taxes, but they don’t want equal rights for children. A child who is born to a woman in a lesbian union will never know his father. He does not have a legally recognized right to know who his father is. The state will come between that child and his father. That child is not equal to other children, and that father is not equal to other fathers.”
Organizers of the March for Marriage are ask asking for a color-coded public statement the day, for men to wear blue shirts, women to wear red, and children to wear white. “It’s to represent the difference between men and women,” Brown says. “That’s symbolized in NOM’s logo, where we have a red ring and a blue ring, that symbolizes male and female. That’s what’s at stake in the marriage cases at the court: are mothers and fathers, husbands and wives complementary and unique? Is there something unique about this relationship or not? And is the Supreme Court going to attempt to redefine the very nature of what it is to be a human person?”
The court is expected to issue its decision in June.