Hundreds Urged to 'Remember Marriage in November'

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:05pm EDT

(Editor's Note: The following contains language that readers might find offensive.)

- Supporters of "traditional marriage" gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Friday to rally against what they see as threats to that institution.

Hundreds braved scattered rain showers to hear high-profile speakers argue against homosexual "marriage" and urge the audience to combat other threats to marriage, such as divorce.

What detractors such as Americans United for the Separation of Church and State called "a partisan political event intended to advance the Religious Right agenda" brought out Christian leaders like Dr. James Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, and political figures like Illinois Republican Senate candidate Alan Keyes.

Alan Chambers, who was a homosexual but became a Christian in the 1980s, brought a message of unity in the church against accepting homosexuality and homosexual "marriage."

Chambers is the president of Exodus International, a group that seeks to reach out to homosexuals, convert them to Christianity and "proclaim freedom from homosexuality."

Criticizing groups that rally with messages like "God hates fags," Chambers told the crowd that "they [homosexuals] need to know that we love them." He said the church needs to repent for its hostility to homosexuals and start exercising "a bold love."

Dr. Richard Land, a member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, was more forward with his presentation, railing against "the sexual paganization of America."

Land proclaimed: "God will not bless a nation that allows itself to go so far away from God's blueprint."

Keyes, who is also the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, argued that not defining marriage as between a man and a woman creates problems in society.

"As the family fails," Keyes said, "America will fail."

Keyes said that virtually all problems in America "are aggravated by the collapse of the marriage-based two-parent family," including violence, educational problems and drug use.

He referred to recent votes in Missouri and Louisiana, in which voters overwhelmingly favored defining marriage as between one man and one woman, as proof that the majority of Americans agree with the so-called "Religious Right."

Keyes accused "elites" of "abusing the power of the courts" by overturning laws against homosexual "marriage" that the majority of people support.

Other speakers like Dobson added divorce and adultery to the list of threats to "traditional marriage."

Dobson also criticized the media for portraying the event as "anti-gay."

"We're not here for a purpose of hate," Dobson said. "Everybody is entitled to respect."

"But," Dobson added, "there are some things that are right and some things that are wrong, and we must defend our beliefs."

Dobson encouraged Christians to "remember in November" that they have the right to keep their leaders accountable for representing their values.

A contingent of less than 10 counter-protestors stood off to the side of the rally, silently displaying signs in favor of homosexual "marriage" and occasionally engaging passersby in dialogue on the issue.

Megan Coffey told that they were members of the San Francisco-based group known as Marriage Equality California and were in the nation's capital to "raise awareness about marriage equality."

"We all deserve the same equal rights," Coffey said, referring to the more than 1,000 benefits of being legally married.

Coffey added that her group is "not trying to get churches to marry us if they don't want."

The Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, said in a release that the rally organizers' "long-term goal is a government that imposes Religious Right values on all Americans through force of law."

Lynn called Friday's event a "partisan political rally, pure and simple. It is intended to whip up enthusiasm for President George W. Bush and other Republican candidates who have endorsed the Federal Marriage Amendment," which would amend the Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

Many rally attendees waved Bush-Cheney 2004 signs or other pro-Bush posters during the three-hour rally. Others passed out material for Republican candidates and encouraged people to vote on Nov. 2.

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