WASHINGTON — What may have been the most diverse gathering of activists ever in Washington, D.C., gathered Saturday to "March for Marriage."
While the rainbow is often used as a symbol of diversity for the Gay Rights Movement, an impressive array of racial and ethnic backgrounds were evident among those united to defend marriage.
Eric Teetsel, executive director of the Manhattan Declaration, one of the sponsors of the March for Marriage, told The Christian Post that the crowd seemed "much bigger and more engaged" than last year's March for Marriage. That may be because the event, now in its third year, is young and "slowly starting to build," and the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a gay marriage case on Tuesday.
Teetsel was particularly struck, though, by the racial and ethnic diversity at the event.
"The thing that impresses me about this event, this is easily the most diverse rally I've ever seen. Every race, color and cultural background are united together for marriage," he said.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which organized the event, told The Christian Post that he was "overwhelmed" by the turnout, which he estimated to be twice as large as last year's March for Marriage.
The Capitol police seemed overwhelmed as well. The police did not close off First Street, which runs between the Supreme Court and the Capitol. At first they told the marchers to get on the sidewalks so traffic could continue. The sidewalks on both sides of First Street filled up, however, as one could still see marchers turning the corner from Constitution Avenue to First with no end to the March in sight. The police eventually acknowledged defeat and closed First Street.
When asked about the diversity of the marchers, Brown said the leaders of those diverse groups have been working for years "in the trenches together" defending marriage and some "amazing friendships" have developed out of that.
"I don't know what the Supreme Court will do [on gay marriage]," Brown continued. "I do know that God has His own purposes. The reality is we're working together in ways that we've never worked together before, with people of different faiths, different backgrounds. If that's the only thing that comes out of this, that's a big thing."
A translator was used for all the speakers, in some cases translating English to Spanish, in other cases translating Spanish to English.
At least two of the speakers mentioned the religious freedom concerns that have come with redefining marriage to include same-sex couples.
The day before the event, Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of a bakery in Oregon, learned they will be fined $135,000 for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.
Jennifer Marshall, vice president for the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity, mentioned the Kleins in her remarks, along with Barronelle Stutzman, a florist who was fined for refusing a same-sex wedding, and Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who was fired for his views about marriage.
"Standing for marriage comes with a cost," she said.
Cathy Ruse, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, added: "Obama says nobody should lose their jobs because of who they love. What if who they love is Jesus?"