(Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
WASHINGTON – As the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on two cases pertaining to the definition of marriage this week, thousands from both sides demonstrated and marched at the National Mall and outside the Supreme Court building on Tuesday.
March for Marriage, an event that began at the National Mall on Tuesday morning, was sponsored by several groups that support defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. The event featured numerous speakers, Contemporary Christian Music, and hundreds, if not thousands, of people from many parts of the country.
Dr. Jim Garlow, senior pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church of San Diego, Calif., and a speaker at the March, told The Christian Post that he felt the event "helps people to see that there are people of decency, people of goodness, of biblical truth that are willing to stand up and resist the onslaught that would attack the family and attack the institution of marriage."
"It encourages all of us and encourages people to think through the issues and understand that God has a vested interest in that which He created," said Garlow.
Bob Vander Plaats, a speaker who is president and CEO of The Family Leader, told CP about how the March was about the future generations. "Not so much for my marriage, my marriage is going to be fine. But I think for those of us people of faith our call is to look to the next generation," said Vander Plaats.
"It is an issue of the future and we love everyone. And people have their own choices that they need to make. But we also have standards in society and one of those is marriage."
Vander Plaats also told CP that marriage is not only of God but also "revealed by nature" and "supported by science."
"Supreme Court Justices are human as well. They watch the news and they read the news and we're hoping that the message that is delivered today that they hear it," added Vander Plaats.
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition and another speaker, told CP that the March "shows the public that the American people very much support marriage."
"I was the chairwoman of Vote for Marriage North Carolina when we passed our marriage amendment last year and so I am very actively involved in trying to keep marriage between one man and one woman," said Fitzgerald.
"We have hundreds of thousands and millions of people in this country that support traditional marriage and so the government and the church do not have the right to redefine marriage and that's why all these people are here today."
Other featured speakers included Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., founder and president of the High Impact Leadership Coalition; Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage; and the Rev. Ruben Diaz, New York Senator (D-Bronx) and president of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, gave remarks just before the march began about the mission of the effort and the rules of engagement. Remarks about the agenda were also given in Spanish, as many of the attendees were from Hispanic communities.
With chants of "One Man, One Woman," "Cristo, Cristo," and "Una Mujer, Un Hombre," the long line of March participants made their way from National Mall to the Supreme Court building, where an equally large gathering of pro-gay marriage supporters were rallying and having speakers.
With much security between the two sides, the March for Marriage went down the street between two sidewalks full of pro-gay marriage attendees for a rally in favor of same-sex marriage legalization.
Volunteers at the gay marriage rally chanted phrases like "Hey-Hey, Ho-Ho, Homophobias Got to go!" and "Gay, Straight, Black or White, Marriage is a Civil Right!"
Organizers and speakers went to and fro the nearby United Methodist Building, which rented out space for the gay marriage rally organizers.
The Rev. Steve Clunn, coalition coordinator for the Methodist Federation for Social Action and attendee of the gay marriage rally, told The Christian Post that he was there "to support the removal of DOMA."
"I believe that it is a constitutional violation and I think once that's removed then people around the country can start to express their own opinions about what they think about same-gender marriage," said Clunn.
"I'm not surprised by the tension. It's been a very divisive issue in the life of our society and in churches, but I think that's one of the things that makes our democracy so special. People can share their opinions even though they are diverse and they do not always agree."
Clunn told CP that he believes that was "one of the ways we express God's love in this world. We don't always agree, but we're all trying to do the right thing."
Wade Henderson, president and Chief Executive Officer of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, told CP about his reasons for being present.
"I'm here today to bring the support of the broad civil and human rights community both to the issue of marriage equality but more importantly to the issue of equal protection of the law."
"From our perspective, the civil and human rights community needs to stand firmly with the advancement of civil and human rights for all persons under the constitution."
The March for Marriage returned to the National Mall after marching to the Supreme Court on Tuesday to continue their rally in support of traditional marriage definition.