WASHINGTON—At the end of a four-hour rally and march to the United States Supreme Court to defend the traditional definition of marriage, Brian Brown brought his wife and eight children up on a stage on the National Mall.
“This is why I do what I do,” he said, pointing to the Browns’ kids.
Indeed, in many ways, the March for Marriage on the National Mall yesterday was more about children than about the institution of marriage, which was the subject of debate up the hill at the Supreme Court.
Speaker after speaker at the first March for Marriage, organized by Brown’s National Organization for Marriage, spoke about the importance of preserving the traditional definition of matrimony for the sake of young people, saying it is how God and nature ordered humanity—and science has confirmed that children need the unique gifts men have in being fathers and women have in being mothers.
“Marriage matters to kids,” said San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. “They deserve a mother and a father, and society needs an institution that connects children to their parents… Marriage is the only institution that does this.”
“Only a man can be a father and a woman can be a mother,” the archbishop continued, “It’s kind of hard to believe that I have to stand here and explain that. It’s like, ‘Is anyone home?’” [Read Abp. Cordileone’s entire address.]
Cathy Ruse of the Family Research Council, and the former spokeswoman for pro-life concerns of the U.S. bishops’ conference, noted that the same-sex “marriage” debate is “always framed in terms of the rights and desires of adults. But the entire reason the government is involved in marriage policy is the children.”
And Eric Teetsel, who represented the Manhattan Declaration, said that even the Obama Administration recognizes this. Teetsel noted the administration’s Fatherhood Initiative, which decries the “growing crisis in America” of fatherless families. “When dads aren’t around,” its materials say, “young people are more likely to drop out of school and become involved in the criminal justice system.”
“Marriage is not about what adults want; it’s about what children need,” Teetsel said.
The march, which took place under clear but chilly skies, was held as the high court considered the constitutionality of California’s Prop. 8. On Wednesday, it hears oral arguments about one section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Marchers—estimated by organizers to be about 10,000 people—walked with placards and banners past the U.S. Capitol and the U.S. Supreme Court, where same-sex “marriage” supporters listened to a rally of their own and packed the sidewalks between the court and capitol.
When marchers returned to the starting point on the mall to listen to a line-up of speakers, their numbers appeared to have less impact than the pro-same-sex “marriage” crowd at the court: they were more spread out between the museums of the Smithsonian Institution on the north and south sides of the vast green space.
Many present no doubt made comparisons with the March for Life, which begins each year in the same space for its march past the Supreme Court and regularly draws hundreds of thousands of people.
The March for Marriage also came three days after hundreds of thousands of protesters marched in Paris to protest a same-sex “marriage” bill sponsored by the Socialist president, François Hollande. French marriage defenders also held a massive rally in January, and in Spain a couple of years ago, about one million people came out on the streets of Madrid to protest a similar measure. And in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Feb. 18, over 200,000 people demonstrated in support of traditional marriage.
Speakers yesterday also made comparisons to Roe v. Wade, urging the Roberts court to avoid a repeat of what happened in 1973, when the court removed a contentious issue from the hands of voters and state legislatures.
“Forty years ago the Supreme Court issued Roe v. Wade,” said Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute. “Do not do to marriage what you did to life. We need to continue this discussion.”
Morse, who works with college students, also noted that the pro-life movement “is a youth movement because young people have figured out that abortion sets aside the interests of children for the convenience of adults. And eventually, the marriage movement will become a youth movement because young people will see that redefining marriage sets aside the interests of children for the convenience of adults.”
Other speakers included Frank Shubert, who oversaw the campaign in California to pass Prop. 8; several black ministers who led the crowd in chants and prayers, and New York State Sen. Ruben Diaz, who is also a Pentecostal minister. He energized the crowd with a bilingual presentation with a decidedly Hispanic-New York character. He pointed out that while the accepted wisdom in New York City is that a Democratic politician cannot be elected if he is conservative, pro-life and/or against same-sex “marriage,” he is all three and he was reelected to the state senate last year with 89 percent of the vote.
Tammy Fitzgerald, of the North Carolina Values Coalition, spoke about last year’s successful ballot initiative in which 61 percent of voters favored an amendment clarifying that marriage is only between one man and one woman.
“People were voting to affirm a core value of society: marriage,” she said. “They recognized that marriage comes from God, and neither government nor the church has the right to redefine it. The fact that children need a mother and father is self-evident. Why would we want to create broken families from the start because the children lack either a mom or dad?”
Gary Bauer, head of American Values, told the crowd that he is a Republican and that if his party “caves” on the issue of same-sex “marriage,” he will leave the party and “take as many people as I can with me.”
Rev. Diaz said he brought 32 buses of people from New York to the event, and other groups came from as far away as Chicago.
Suzanne Malavasic from St. Aloysius Parish in Hickory, N.C., said she got on a bus at midnight and arrived Tuesday morning.
“To me it’s almost the straw that will break our country,” she said as she walked back to the mall from the court. “We’ve been building up to this. For the life issue, when they allowed birth control, that eventually led to other things and abortion. To allow homosexual marriage to be legal… will lead to unbelievable types of relationships between men and women and children.”
Catherine and Nash Monsour were in attendance from Frederick, Md. Monsour fears same-sex “marriage” will “destroy the country. There won’t be enough young people to support the older generation. Every country that destroys marriage, that civilization ends.”
And Isolde Cambournac, a doctoral student in theology at the Catholic University of America, said she was there because of the universal value of marriage.
“Marriage is the basis of society—French, American, or English,” said Cambournac, who is originally from Versailles, France, and was present at yesterday’s march with a few other French nationals living in Washington. “The defense of marriage should be done around the world. It’s for the future of our societies.”