By Pamela Nielsen
WASHINGTON — Undeterred by a broiling sun with humidity levels at their highest, thousands gathered on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building here June 19 for the “March for Marriage” — to defend and uphold marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The diverse crowd grew over the course of three hours, as busloads of participants from many states arrived. Representing various church bodies and faith-based groups, as well as their own individual convictions, they then marched to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Marchers represented the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, Orthodox Jews and various Protestant churches including The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. In the throng were adults and children of all ages and ethnicities. Political leaders and clergy at the march included Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas); New York state Sen. Rev. Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx); TV and radio host Mike Huckabee; and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.
“We are assembled today to defend something we never thought we would have to defend,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
Cordileone’s message focused on love and service toward neighbors, even those who oppose the stance for the God-given truth that defines marriage. The archbishop was there despite significant opposition to his attending in the weeks leading up to the event, especially from various political leaders and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) supporters.
Echoing the archbishop were numerous speakers who addressed the status of court cases regarding marriage, as well as the challenges and victories in the ongoing effort to defend marriage. They offered encouragement, calling on the crowd to not lose hope.
Diaz charged the crowd with an energetic and passionate speech delivered in Spanish that was translated for the crowd.
Several speakers reminded those assembled that 40 years ago, following the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, pro-life supporters were in a similar position, against the tides of the culture. Today, they stressed, the tides are changing, with a growing swell in support of life.
“We never surrender, never,” said Ludovine de la Rochere, co-founder and president of La Manif Pour Tous, a French organization devoted to maintaining traditional marriage and a leading spokesperson in defense of traditional marriage in France.
Participants carried homemade banners, waved American flags and held up signs that read “Every child deserves a father and a mother.”
Deaconess Dorothy Krans, director of LCMS Recognized Service Organizations, and Deaconess Pamela Nielsen, associate executive director of LCMS Communications, attended the march. They are members of the LCMS “Free to Be Faithful” effort, an educational and awareness campaign to educate and move rostered LCMS members and people to take informed action to protect religious freedom and all the cultural issues that pertain to it.
“It was encouraging to see Christians standing together to uphold marriage between one man and one woman,” said Krans. “As Lutherans, we need to stand firm in our faith and boldly confess our belief about marriage.”
The tone of the gathering was peaceful and positive, as speaker after speaker emphasized love for all, care for the neighbor and the conviction that traditional marriage is a God-given truth.
A small group of LGBT and same-sex marriage supporters — bearing rainbow flags and homemade signs — were on hand to protest the march.
The day before, Krans and Nielsen were part of an invitation-only gathering of representatives from various faith groups and organizations meeting with more than 40 representatives of groups at the forefront in the battle to defend marriage. They included representatives of he National Organization for Marriage, the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, First Things First, Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and The Witherspoon Institute.
That meeting featured updates on the legal outlook for traditional marriage, pending legislation on Capitol Hill and various education efforts, and introduced new resources and initiatives aimed at equipping leaders and laypeople in the defense of marriage.
Deaconess Pamela Nielsen is associate executive director of LCMS Communications.
Posted June 27, 2014