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Thousands rally in nation’s capital for traditional marriage

WASHINGTON (BP)–Pro-family leaders told tens of thousands of people on the National Mall Oct. 15 that the reason for the Mayday for Marriage rally was not to express animosity to homosexuals but to defend the union of a man and a woman as an institution.

“[W]e are not here for purposes of hate,” Focus on the Family founder James Dobson told the crowd. “We are not here because we want to disparage the homosexual community or anybody else. This is being played in the media as an anti-gay rally. That is not true. We are here because we believe in the institution of marriage.”

Rally organizer Ken Hutcherson said that reporters interviewing him have tried to make it into “an anti-gay rally.”

“We don’t believe in anti-anything,” Hutcherson said. “We are here because we believe that God has ordained marriage between one man, one woman.”

The three-hour rally, which continued even during a passing rain shower, came nearly a year after a court’s decision brought about the eventual legalization of same-sex “marriage” in Massachusetts. In the ensuing months, public officials in other states moved to grant homosexuals the right to “marry.” Several rallies have been held across the country during the last six months to defend marriage and to build support for a federal constitutional amendment to protect the institution as only between a man and a woman.

The Mayday for Marriage rally in Washington was the largest gathering yet in the movement. It came less than three weeks after the House of Representatives failed to achieve the two-thirds majority necessary for approval of an amendment and less than three weeks before the election. The amendment met defeat in the Senate in July.

Speakers urged perseverance in the cause.

Prison Fellowship Chairman Charles Colson told the crowd, “This is not going to be a one-year or two-year or three-year fight; it’s going to be fought until we prevail. Don’t quit; don’t get discouraged; don’t despair. Despair is a sin because it denies the sovereignty of God.

“It’s going to be a long fight,” Colson said. “It doesn’t turn on one election; it doesn’t turn on one vote. It’s got to be a gradual process of educating the American people.”

Those at the rally have proven to public officials “that Christians will not lay down on this issue,” Hutcherson told the crowd. “We will fight to the end.

“We want to give a message today that we as believers are standing, we have been awakened and we are never going back to sleep again.”

Pastors should lead the way in the effort, said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“[I]t is the prophetic leadership of pastors in churches that puts calcium in the backbone of the churches and the people of faith across America,” Land said. “This is the critical moment to stand in the gap as prophets and to call our people to be the salt and the light that God has called us to be. It is time to be salt and to stop the sexual paganization of America. It is time to be light to penetrate the darkness and to boldly proclaim what God’s intention is for man and woman in the confines of holy matrimony as God designed it.”

The United States is “at a critical fork in the road,” Land said.

“Make no mistake about it. If we allow same-sex marriage to be foisted upon us by an imperial judiciary in the United States, God will not bless this nation,” he said. “That’s what’s at stake.”

Land added that the controversial issue is about “whether or not we are going to practice societal child abuse on a whole generation of children or stand up for a safe, nurturing environment for our children. It’s about the children.”

Speakers emphasized the need to treat homosexuals with love and respect.

“Many of the people in the homosexual community have been hurt,” Dobson said. “They’ve been wounded. Some of their wounds have come from us. We have called them names. We have pushed them away. As Christians, it is our obligation to put our arms around them and pull them into the church. You cannot win people to Jesus Christ if you’re being disrespectful to them.

“But on the other hand, there are some things that are right and some things that are wrong, and we must defend the value system in which we believe.”

Gary Bauer, president of American Values and a former Republican presidential candidate, asserted that it is “not bigotry to know that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

“It is not discrimination to know that our children need mothers and fathers,” Bauer said. “And it is not intolerance to know that the love between you and your spouse is superior in every way to sex between two men.”

Alan Chambers, executive director of Exodus International, a Christian outreach to homosexuals, told the crowd that followers of Christ “need to repent of our hostility toward homosexual people.”

“They aren’t our enemies,” Chambers said. “They need to know that we love them. They need to know that God loves them.”

Christians also need to repent “of being intimidated by the gay rights movement” and “of our own immorality,” said Chambers, a former homosexual who appeared with his wife, Leslie, of nearly seven years at his side. “When the church is not following through with their marriage commitments, when we don’t look as different from the world as we should, we need to repent of that.”

Dennis Rainey, president of FamilyLife said that divorce is “killing our churches, and it’s killing our nation.”

“There’s an elephant inside the church, and few want to admit it’s there,” Rainey said. “It’s divorce. It’s divorce. It’s divorce. … [Christians need to] repent from our casual view of divorce. Today, we must protect our children by keeping our marriage promises.”

Other speakers included Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Anne Graham Lotz, Bible teacher and author; Alan Keyes, U.S. senatorial candidate in Illinois; Rabbi Daniel Lapin; and Bruce Fong, president of Michigan Theological Seminary.

Estimates of the crowd size ranged from 60,000 to a high of 210,000 by a Mayday for Marriage spokesman. The U.S. National Park Service stopped estimating the size of rally crowds on the mall several years ago as a result of controversy over its conclusions.

Hutcherson, a pastor in Redmond, Wash., organized the first Mayday for Marriage rally in May, when about 20,000 people gathered at Safeco Field in Seattle. The word “mayday” is an international signal for distress.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage