SEATTLE (BP)–An estimated crowd of 25,000 assembled at Seattle’s Safeco Field May 1 for a “Mayday for Marriage Rally” sponsored by a coalition of Christian leaders in Washington State named “The Mayday for Marriage Initiative.”
The demographically and racially diverse crowd gathered from across the state in support of the rally’s theme, “Take a Stand for Marriage.” In response to the threat of same-sex unions facing America, sponsors organized the event as a show of support for traditional marriage, defined as a union between one man and one woman.
Though the crowd did not fill the 47,000-seat stadium, the turnout was impressive given the fact that organizers put the rally together in only 30 days. Word of the event was spread via television spots, direct mail promotion and e-mail contacts.
While attendees were treated to a bevy of Seattle-area speakers during the two-hour event, the rally’s featured personality was James Dobson, best-selling author, radio talk show host and founder of the pro-family organization Focus on the Family.
Dobson rarely makes public appearances. However, it marked the second pro-marriage event he has addressed in less than a month. In early April, Dobson spoke to a similar rally in Portland, Ore., sponsored by the Oregon Defense of Marriage Coalition.
Responding to an enthusiastic ovation when introduced, Dobson praised the crowd for taking part in the rally. Given the beauty of the sun-kissed day, a rare springtime occurrence in the Pacific Northwest, he commended attendees for using the day to take a stand for what is right rather than choosing to pursue some leisurely activity.
Dobson cited several consequences likely to occur if same-sex unions are legitimized in America. One of the most ominous, he said, is the “threat to religious liberty and the church.” Citing Canada as an example, Dobson said that Washington’s neighbor to the north is criminalizing any speech that is deemed derogatory toward homosexuality.
If homosexual marriage becomes the norm in the United States, “the culture war is lost,” Dobson said. “How do we oppose this tidal wave?” he asked. “The only way to solve this problem is with a federal marriage amendment,” Dobson declared, answering his own question.
“There are those who want to leave this issue to the states,” Dobson stated. “We cannot have 50 definitions of marriage,” he emphasized. “You can’t be married in Connecticut but not married in Texas.”
Dobson concluded his address by encouraging the crowd to stand strong. “This is a tough fight,” he said. “It’s hot, it’s gritty and it’s not comfortable. Nobody likes to be called names.” Attendees responded with a roaring standing ovation that lasted several minutes.
Approximately 1,500 protesters did their best to make their presence known. Homosexual rights groups sported signs, hurled slurs and chanted incessantly during the duration of the rally. At one point, some even sought to block the entrances to the event.
Event organizers did not deter protesters from entering Safeco Field. A few dozen sat in outfield seats on the left field side of the ball park. They jeered and chanted as speakers addressed the crowd.
At one point in his talk, Dobson turned to the raucous protesters and said, “We welcome you here. We love you.” The crowd responded with a loud, long ovation.
Other protestors marched along Safeco’s concourse chanting and beating drums. A band situated outside the center field fence tried to distract the crowd with loud music while a small plane circled the stadium pulling a banner with the message, “Get out of our ball park bigots.”
In spite of repeated provocations by protestors, rally attendees stayed focused on the purpose of the event: the support of traditional marriage.
While event organizers see same-sex unions as a threat nationwide, the issue is of particular interest to their state. Washington’s Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1998, currently is being challenged by a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The suit, filed in early April, claims that the act violates state and federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law.
Rally attendee Yolande Martin summed up the sentiments at the gathering. “I’m tired of being complacent about this,” said the resident of Bothell, a suburb of Seattle. “People think we hate homosexuals. It’s not that. We just don’t want their agenda crammed down our throats.” Martin continued, “After this, what else are they going to change? It has to stop somewhere.”
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit