The sponsor of a proposed U.S. constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman on Thursday conceded opponents of gay nuptials are losing ground.
“We are falling behind in the struggle,” said Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp during the National Organization for Marriage’s March for Marriage that took place on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. “Those who seek to destroy marriage by redefining it to mean anything — and thus mean nothing, are hard at work.”
Many of the estimated 2,000 people from across the country held NOM signs that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Others carried posters reading “each child deserves a father and a mother” in Spanish.
“When we hear time and time again from some in the media that the fight to protect marriage is over, we are here today to say no,” said NOM President Brian Brown. “We are here to say that no matter the circumstances, no matter how difficult it may be, we will stand in and out of season for the truth of marriage.”
San Francisco Roman Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, New York state Sen. Ruben Díaz, Sr., Leanna Baumer of the Family Research Council and Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., are among those who spoke during the rally.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who is the papal emissary to the U.S., also attended.
“Marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” said Santorum, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2012. “It is a union between a man and a woman for the purpose of taking two people in unity as one and secondly to have and raise children. No other union can accomplish those two purposes.”
Cordileone said the majority of those who support marriage rights for same-sex couples are people of “goodwill” that he categorized as “misdirected.”
Jackson rejected the argument that same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue.
“Gender rights and sexual orientation cannot trump the rights of the masses of people who believe in personal liberty and what we want to call natural and biblical marriage,” he said.
Gays and lesbians can legally marry in 20 states and D.C.
More than a dozen federal and state judges have ruled in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples since the U.S. Supreme Court last June struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Same-sex couples in Canada, Mexico City, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Iceland, England, Wales, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, South Africa and New Zealand are also able to tie the knot.
Luxembourg lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. A referendum on whether to allow gays and lesbians to tie the knot in Ireland is slated to take place next year.
Ludivine de la Rochère, who led efforts to oppose France’s same-sex marriage law that took effect last May, said during the NOM rally that she feels the fight against nuptials for gays and lesbians is not over.
“We will never surrender,” she said.
Tomás Henriquez of Chile held a sign reading “every child deserves a mom and a dad” as he and his friend who are visiting D.C. stood on the West Lawn.
“We believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman,” Henriquez told the Washington Blade.
Marlene Trump of Lancaster County, Pa., attended the rally with a group from the Family Institute of Pennsylvania. She was holding the same sign that Henriquez had as she spoke with the Blade about why she opposes marriage rights for same-sex couples.
“It’s God’s will,” said Trump. “Families, children growing up in a family where there is a mom and a dad is much more of a healthy environment than having two moms or two dads.”
A handful of LGBT rights advocates held a large banner that read “love not hate” and a Bible with a sign saying “use me not for your bigotry.”