Opponents of same-sex marriage tried to keep their movement alive during a rally Thursday outside the United States Capitol.
An estimated 2,000 people turned out for the National Organization for Marriage’s “March for Marriage,” with speaker after speaker vowing to take a last stand against growing support for marriage equality.
“Why are we here today? We’re here to stand for something that many of us thought we would never have to come to a march to stand for,” NOM President Brian Brown said at a rally preceding the group’s march from the Capitol to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Now at a time when we’ve seen judges and courts decide that they have the right to redefine what God has created; at a time where it seems every day we look up and there’s some bad news on a newscast talking about another judge whose redefined marriage; and when we hear time and time again from some in the media that the fight to protect marriage is over, we are here to say no!” he continued. “We are here today to say no matter the circumstances, no matter how difficult is may be, we will stand in and out of season for the truth of marriage.”
Speakers at the rally included many of the usual suspects, including San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and others who have preached against same-sex marriage for years. Noticably absent, however, were many of the Republican politicians who have grown increasingly shy on the subject and reluctant to waste political capital fighting LGBT rights.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp was the only current member of Congress to speak at the rally, mere yards from the House Chamber. “There are those intent on destroying marriage who claim history is on their side,” declared the Kansas Republican, who proposed amending the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman mere days after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark marriage-equality rulings last June.
“We are falling behind in the struggle,” Huelskamp conceded. “Those who seek to destroy marriage by redefining it to mean anything, and thus mean nothing, are hard at work.” Huelskamp also expressed dismay at the “nearly deafening silence” of his colleagues on this issue and warned that same-sex marriage opponents are losing ground.
“Your woman, your wife, she needs you!” Huelskamp said, urging men in the crowd to “become a real man and stand up for those who need you.”
The most recognizable names at the rally were former Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee. Santorum, who paused between sentences of his speech to allow a translator to repeat his words in Spanish, insisted that the institution of marriage must be reclaimed.
“It is also important to understand how marriage is important for our economy. Every marriage, every family is a little business. How much easier is it to run a business with two people in the business as opposed to one,” Santorum said. “We need to help rebuild marriage of men and women coming together to raise our children. And we need to do this first and foremost out of respect for all people. This isn’t about hating anybody or anything. This is about loving truth and loving what’s best for men, women and children.”
For his part, Huckabee took a far more dire tone, warning that “judicial supremacy is a curse upon this republic” and seemingly calling for same-sex marriage opponents to reject court rulings that side in favor of marriage equality.
“It’s time for us as an American people to say to our government, ‘Enough of you restricting us. Enough of you redefining our institutions. We are not under an obligation to defy God to obey you. We are under an obligation to obey God and the law and, if necessary, to defy an institution that is out of control,’” Huckabee said, adding that judicial supremacy is the “greatest heresy of our time.”
The rally comes during increasingly dark days for opponents of same-sex marriage. Since last June’s sweeping U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor — striking down the federal government’s definition of marriage as between a man and a woman — marriage equality has not lost a single day in court. Federal courts have ruled in favor of marriage equality in Utah, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Oregon and Wisconsin. State courts in Arkansas, New Jersey and New Mexico have also sided with marriage equality. At least one of those cases is likely destined for the U.S. Supreme Court. There are currently 19 states, plus D.C., that allow same-sex marriage and of those states that do not, all are facing legal challenges to their respective same-sex marriage bans.
For NOM in particular, the campaign has grown tiresome. “The rapid collapse of opposition to gay marriage we are witnessing did not just happen, and it was not inevitable. But it is,” Maggie Gallagher, the former president of NOM, wrote last month.
A federal judge dismissed a case brought by NOM against the Internal Revenue Service earlier this month, finding NOM had no evidence to suggest a list revealing names of donors was intentionally leaked to the Human Rights Campaign. Last month the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices found NOM in violation of state campaign finance laws and imposed a $50,250 fine against NOM while ordering the organization to file a campaign finance report disclosing donors behind their 2009 campaign to repeal Maine’s same-sex marriage law. An attempt by NOM to defend Oregon’s same-sex marriage ban in court when the state would not was rejected, as was an emergency request filed with the U.S. Supreme Court to halt same-sex marriages from proceeding in Oregon.
Public opinion is also on the move. According to a poll released Wednesday by HRC, only 28 percent of voters strongly oppose same-sex marriage. The poll, which surveyed 1,200 registered voters earlier this month and was conducted by Republican pollster Alex Lundry of TargetPoint Consulting, also found 4 out of 10 opponents of same-sex marriage were unwilling to pay anything to stop it. Moreover, only 3 percent said they would protest a Supreme Court decision striking down same-sex marriage bans nationwide.
“No matter how many fake mustaches they wear and no matter how many wardrobe changes they make at tomorrow’s rally, Brian Brown can’t fake a movement,” Fred Sainz, vice president of HRC, said upon yesterday’s release of the poll. “They are the proud leaders of a hateful handful — the last gasp of a reactionary rump.”
Taking the stage after the first speaker at Thursday’s rally, Brown attempted to inject some energy into the crowd. “I think we need a chant,” he said. “You guys are getting a little down. One man, one woman! Come on!” Later, as the weather grew more sweltering, he tried again. “One woman, one man! Let them hear us,” Brown said, looking over his shoulder at the U.S. Capitol behind him. “I think they’re hearing us.”