Traditional marriage advocates rally over lunch in Orem to make voices heard

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 8 2014 6:05 p.m. MST

Mary Summerhays, left, Stephen Graham, Ray Lambert and Cherilyn Eagar talk following a grass-roots organizing and information rally in Orem, Wednesday Jan. 8, 2014.in Orem, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

OREM — Belinda Jensen can't stay on the sidelines any longer.

The Pleasant Grove mother of six said she's past the point of concern about what's going on in Utah, particularly when it comes to marriage.

"What's happening here is all-important to me and my family. The issue of marriage is all-important to me. I believe the judge ruled erroneously and with his own self-interest," Jensen, 53, said Wednesday.

"I haven't been really active in these types of things, but this issue is forcing me to come out and be here."

Jensen joined about 75 people over the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet at Golden Corral to talk about how to make themselves heard in the tumult over same-sex marriage in Utah.

Conservative political activist Cherilyn Eagar organized the event she pitched as taking on "Obama's war against Utah's state sovereignty, marriage, family and religious liberty."

"We're not in a losing battle," she told the crowd. "All you who came today, we're going to rally the troops."

Among those giving pep talks were Eagar, Utah Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka and Rep. Lavar Christensen, R-Draper, the author of Utah's voter-approved law defining marriage as between one man and one woman. They invoked the Bible, natural law and morality as reasons to support traditional marriage, and the blasted U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby who found the Utah law unconstitutional.

"Activist judges that roam at will through their imaginations to interpret our Constitution, they're a great danger to our time," Christensen said.

Past U.S. Supreme Court rulings, he said, show there is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage and that the power to define marriage rests with the states.

"You do not go to a federal courthouse to get a marriage license. What does that tell you?" said Christensen, a lawyer who intends to file a friend-of-the-court brief in the Utah case.

Eagar described how gay marriage has changed schools, business, religion and politics in Massachusetts where it has been legal for 10 years.

"Even the Republican Party in Massachusetts has caved and will no longer oppose same-sex marriage," the former GOP U.S. Senate candidate said, adding that Republicans there now march in gay pride parades.

Ruzicka said in addition to speaking out, proponents of traditional marriage must rely on God. "That's how we win this thing, we fast and pray," she said.

Spanish Fork resident Dan Powell said he attended the event because he wants to see traditional marriage remain intact.

"I don’t want it getting to where they start teaching wrong principles in schools. I'm concerned about my kids and grandkids," he said. "I think there's quite a few grass-roots groups in Utah that represent traditional values and they're ready to go to work against it."

Mary Summerhays, who heads a group called Friends of Marriage, said marriage is the only institution that protects children's right to have a relationship with their mother and father.

"When we redefine marriage law we have said to those children, 'Your rights don't matter anymore,'" she said. "Judge Shelby has proposed this new experiment that says, 'No, we're not going to use the power of marriage to protect a child's relationship with their mother and father. Instead, we're going to use that power of marriage to alienate that child's relationship with their mother and father.'"

Summerhays organized two events celebrating traditional marriage last year and wants to do another one this year.

For her part, Jensen, the Pleasant Grove mother, said she's going to pass on the information she received Wednesday and at another meeting last week, starting with her own family. She's also taking to Facebook and Twitter. So far, she said, she hasn’t received many "likes" or comments to her posts.

"People, I think, are too afraid of offending someone. It's really sad because we're giving up our freedom of speech by doing that," she said.

Jensen said she's doesn't worry anymore about offending someone or being called names because making herself heard is worth much more than that.

"It's come to the point that I have to do it," she said. "I have to start speaking up."

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: dennisromboy; DNewsPolitics

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