The National Organization for Marriage has struggled in recent years to populate its annual anti-marriage-equality March for Marriage, with especially dismal turnout last year for the first march since the Supreme Court effectively made marriage equality the law of the land. But this year’s march reached a new low, as waning enthusiasm for the cause and what NOM president Brian Brown said were scheduling and permit troubles combined to produce a crowd of about 50.
Fifteen minutes before the event was scheduled to begin, about 20 adults were milling around an empty stage while several children worked to unfurl large red and blue banners to carry during the march. One passerby wondered whether they were going to a kite festival. Gradually, a few more participants arrived, including five men wearing the signature capes of the group Tradition, Family and Property and carrying a “Honk for Traditional Marriage” sign.
While in previous years, the March for Marriage’s numbers have been increased by various church-sponsored buses and a large contingent bused in by New York state Sen. Ruben Diaz, this year there appeared to be no large groups.
Brown told the crowd not to be discouraged by their small numbers, comparing their cause to that of abolitionists in the 18th and early 19th century.
“We are on the side of truth,” he said. “We are on the side of true human rights, we are on the side of true civil rights. And in every fight for civil rights, it took a creative minority who were willing to stand up and speak truth to power no matter what the cost. And you know what? There may not be thousands of us here today. It doesn’t matter. There were only a few that stood with William Wilberforce when he stood up and said ‘no’ to the slave trade in England. He was mocked, he was derided, he was laughed at. We remember him as a hero now, because ultimately his life’s work was successful, but it wasn’t successful in his own lifetime.”
“Every year, we’re going to be here whether there’s thousands or hundreds or tens” of people, he said.
Brown insisted that the Supreme Court “did not and could not and will not change the nature of marriage” but has instead “put a lie within the law.”
He warned that Americans are now experiencing the “consequences of that lie” and that “the brave new world that we predicted is happening,” in what he warned was the rise of “three-person marriage” and attacks on religious liberty.
He told the crowd that he would keep working to overturn the Obergefell marriage equality decision and would be ready to advance a state same-sex marriage ban to get a case before the Supreme Court at the right time.
“The court has been wrong and wrong time and time again,” he said, citing the rulings in Dred Scott, Buck v. Bell and Roe v. Wade. “And guess what? The court has overturned its own rulings that were wrong. It’s going to take another justice, maybe two. It may take 20 years, maybe more. ”
“I firmly believe that with God’s grace, we are going to correct this illegitimate court decision,” he said.
Brown pointed to his many travels overseas, where he works to unite global anti-LGBTQ leaders with the World Congress of Families, saying that while the U.S. has “made a very damaging mistake” at home, “around the world, good things are happening.” He mentioned the recent WCF conference in Hungary, which has restricted marriage in its constitution, and travels to Romania and Taiwan, where he met recently with activists working to overturn a court ruling granting marriage rights to same-sex couples.
Longtime NOM strategist Frank Schubert also addressed the rally, calling the Obergefell decision “anti-constitutional” and “illegitimate” and saying that “it will only take one new justice on the Supreme Court” to reverse it.
Brown also invited three African-American anti-marriage-equality activists to speak, including Eric Wallace of Freedom’s Journal Institute, a cosponsor of the march. Wallace hosted a Black Conservative Summit in Washington this week that was billed as a regional event for Brown’s World Congress of Families.
Another participant in Wallace’s summit, Denise Walker of Everlasting Light Ministries, told the NOM crowd that Americans in general, and African-Americans in particular, have turned their back on the “God who delivered us out of slavery” and “later brought the Civil Right’s Movement.”
“We left God,” she said, “then we allowed ourselves to be aligned with ungodly movements. This gay rights movement is ungodly, it’s from the pit of hell.”