Traditional Marriage Proponents Plan March on Washington

Friday, 25 Apr 2014 03:34 PM

By Jennifer G. Hickey

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Pro-family groups plan to make their voices heard at a June 19 rally in Washington in support of traditional marriage following the Supreme Court's decision last year to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Commonly called DOMA, the act defined marriage as a legal union only between a man and a woman as husband and wife.

"The primary goal of the rally is to show that nothing is inevitable, and that millions of Americans still support the notion of traditional marriage, that is, a union between a man and a woman," said Joseph Grabowski, communications director of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

"We want this to be a rally that will demonstrate a positive message in favor of traditional marriage and that will give people the encouragement they need to speak out and let their voices be heard, which has become more difficult for them to do in recent months," he told Newsmax.

Grabowski said the case of former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich has caused many to fear expressing their views on the issue. Eich was forced to step down when it became known that he donated to the campaign backing Proposition 8, California's same-sex marriage ban.

"We are concerned that the tenor of the debate is chilling," Grabowski said. "The Brendan Eich case has many people worried about where things are going, and that being in favor of traditional marriage is being defined as being in favor of bigotry and hatred. We want this issue to be settled through the democratic process and done with respect for all viewpoints."

Eich is not the only person targeted by gay activists for opposing same-sex marriage. In Oregon, controversy has swirled around the opening of an organic grocery store, Moreland Farmers Pantry. Several backers withdrew their support after the owner's views opposing gay marriage were posted on Facebook.

But Grabowski said such strident moves have helped the cause of traditional marriage backers.

"We have seen a redoubling of resolve among the grass roots as people see the other side overreaching, whether it is shaming those who back traditional marriage or the number of state attorneys general refusing to defend [same-sex marriage ban] laws in court," Grabowski said.

The Supreme Court also issued an opinion last year in Hollingsworth v. Perry, ruling that proponents of California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage lacked standing to appeal the district court's order invalidating the initiative.

Since the Supreme Court's dual rulings, state and federal courts have become a hotbed of lawsuits and appeals over the constitutionality of bans on same-sex marriage.

Most recently, seven plaintiffs filed a federal class-action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Georgia's same-sex marriage ban.

According to the pro-same-sex marriage Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, there are 65 pending lawsuits in federal courts of appeal, federal district courts, and state courts challenging existing marriage laws in 30 states and Puerto Rico.

NOM is also adding its voice in the courts, most recently filing a motion in Oregon asking a judge to intervene and back the state's same-sex marriage ban after state Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum announced she would not defend the law.

In February, Rosenblum issued a statement saying "there is no rational basis for Oregon to refuse to honor the commitments made by same-sex couples in the same way it honors the commitments of opposite-sex couples."

She added that the state could not "identify a valid reason for the state to prevent the couples who have filed these lawsuits from marrying in Oregon," and said her office would no longer "defend the state's prohibition against marriages between two men or two women."

Rosenblum is not alone. Attorneys general in several other states, including Nevada, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, and Virginia also have refused to defend state prohibitions on gay marriage.

Proponents of same-sex marriage have persuaded eight federal judges that the Supreme Court's decision on DOMA means courts must strike down laws against gay marriage because they deprive same-sex couples of a fundamental right.

There has been a slight shift in attitudes toward gay marriage among religious groups, according to new Pew Research Center data.

Pew found that the biggest change has occurred among black Protestants, where support for gay marriage has risen to 43 percent from 32 percent in 2013.

Among white mainline Protestants, support has risen from 55 percent to 62 percent, but Pew reported that among Catholics there has been no "statistically significant" change in the 59 percent figure of those who support same-sex marriage.

The fluidity of the issue, said Grabowski, will likely ensure marriage remains an issue heading into the 2014 and 2016 election cycles.

He added: "This rally is intended to show the politicians and the Supreme Court that there are still millions of people in America who believe in traditional marriage."

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