National Edition

Small but dedicated 'March for Marriage' crowd occupies patch of Capitol grounds

Published: Thursday, June 19 2014 5:10 p.m. MDT

Updated: Friday, June 20 2014 4:27 p.m. MDT

"It's not exactly a protest, but I want to give a voice to the rights of the LGBT community," Taylor said when asked why she was there. When Craig Turner of Burke, Virginia, approached one of the "Love Not Hate" demonstrators to ask whether they also support marriage between a brother and sister, a third activist ordered his fellow protester, "Don't engage with him." When a reporter tried to observe the exchange up close, the organizer, who did not identify himself, attempted to block any witnesses' view.

Still committed

Others at the event were more benign in their approach, though equally committed to the cause and mindful of their potential impact on the congressional offices a few hundred yards away.

Efrain Lopez, from the New York City borough of Manhattan, has been married 33 years and is active in the Second Macedonian Church Assemblies of God.

"I'm out of work right now, but I would still take a day off to attend this rally," Lopez, a doorman, said. "It's a very important thing we're doing. We're not just people, we're voters."

Alan Hankins, who manages a LifeWay Christian Books outlet in Springfield, Virginia, stood on the lawn with his wife and said they were at the event for the first time.

"God is the one to define marriage," he said, "And man cannot change what God has defined. It's important (to be here) because elected officials will see the strength of the people speaking up."

Keith Fournier, a Roman Catholic deacon from Chesapeake, Virginia, who said he drove five hours to attend the event, said, "I don't think you can underestimate the importance of marriage; it's the first, vital cell of society. This (rally) is a very important event."

Defying a request from Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other leaders to avoid the event, Archbishop Cordileone addressed the crowd and later said traditional marriage has plenty of support in San Francisco, whose former mayor, current California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsome, pioneered efforts to legalize same-sex marriage.

"There's more support than people would realize in San Francisco for (traditional) marriage," Cordileone said. Of his critics, "I think we need to do a better job educating our people. I think we've fallen down on educating people on the basic truths of our religion and the basic truths of nature; this (marriage) is based in nature. It's a matter of an ongoing dialogue to help people understand why we do what we do."

Cordileone, the Catholic Church's point man on the gay marriage debate in the United States, said he understood the motive for approximately 80 political and community leaders to send an "open letter" to him protesting the March for Marriage event. But he said Pelosi's letter, first disclosed in the San Francisco Chronicle, "was a private letter that got leaked."

He added, "I have been already in communication with Rep. Pelosi," though he did not divulge the nature of that discussion.

Email: mkellner@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @Mark_Kellner

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