.- Speakers at the national March for Marriage told the crowds gathered in Washington, D.C., that marriage is fundamentally about preserving an institutional link between parents for the sake of their children.
“Marriage matters because family matters to our society and because marriage matters for families,” said Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
“Society needs an institution that connects mothers and fathers to their children,” he told CNA.
The March for Marriage took place on March 26 on the National Mall, with a rally and march in front of the Supreme Court. Organizers estimated that some 15,000 people were in attendance.
The event coincided with the first day of oral arguments before the Supreme Court on two cases concerning same-sex “marriage.” Rulings in the cases are expected this summer and may determine how the issue is handled across the country.
Rev. Bill Owens, founder and president of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, refuted the idea that same-sex marriage is an issue of civil rights.
Owens, who marched in the Civil Rights Movement, criticized the analogies of same-sex “marriage” to the historic movement for racial equality. Efforts to preserve the definition of marriage as it always has been are not comparable to “what we suffered,” he said.
“I am marching again, and this time I’m marching to defend marriage,” Owens explained.
Eric Teetsel, executive director of the pro-marriage Manhattan Declaration, echoed these comments.
“I’m all for rights and the equal dignity of every human being,” he said, addressing a variety of privileges associated with marriage.
“The fact is that we can give rights for a variety of non-marital relationships,” Teetsel said, “but none of those relationships are marriage.”
Marriage, he stressed, is “not arbitrary: it’s the first institution of society.”
Rev. Gene Rivers, pastor of Azusa Christian Community, also commented that marriage “is not an issue of civil rights,” but is instead an institution focused on the well-being of the next generation, which can only come from the union of man and woman.
“We are out here today to tell the Supreme Court that we must defend the definition of marriage as between one and one woman to ensure the development of children,” he emphasized.
“To deprive a child of a mother and a father,” Rivers continued, “destabilizes the community, particularly the Black community.” He pointed to examples of poverty and social turmoil exacerbated by single-parent homes.
Archbishop Cordileone added that the redefinition of marriage would gravely harm children.
“We’ve known for 20 years or more now the problem of fatherlessness – children who grow up without a father” he told CNA, pointing to studies showing the difficulties faced by children raised in single-parent homes.
“The solution isn’t to give them two fathers and no mother.”
He added that while a child may grow up happy and successful in a variety of situations, “if a child grows up without a father or a mother, it’s always a deprivation.”
New York State Senator Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx), minister and president of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization, remarked that balance and equality for children comes from the sexual difference between spouses.
“There cannot be equality in marriage if two people cannot procreate,” said Diaz.
Allison Howard of Concerned Women for America said that the opportunity to publically discuss the meaning of marriage is valuable and that the Supreme Court should not “shut that debate down.”
“This is the first time that we have had to answer that question, ‘What is Marriage?’” Howard noted.