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But at the Washington march, some supporters said there remains valid reason to keep the traditional definition of marriage even without the biblical discussion. Marchers frequently stated that children do better in two-parent households, with their natural mother and a father.

According to Mr. Jennings, children who grow up with a mother and a father, and attend church are “far less likely to live in poverty, far less likely to drop out of school, far more likely to go to college. The benefits that mom and dad bring to a family, a young person, it really just helps propel into the rest of their life and it’s one of the reasons that marriage is so important to America.”

Mr. Huckabee said that single parenthood is the greatest contributing factor to childhood poverty, and that children raised by a single parent are 75 percent more likely to end up in poverty. He said that while there are many good people come out of single-parent homes, they are the exception, not the rule.

“When people talk about marriage, it’s not about trying to tell people how to live, it’s trying to make sure people live the best they can and the ideal is a man and a woman, married for life, creating children, or adopting them and then training them to be their replacements, and giving them the love and nurture that both a mother and father have to give,” Mr. Huckabee said.

While the definition of marriage remains fiercely contested, supporters of traditional marriage at the march were clear that they did not hold any animosity for gays and touted a message of religious love and kindness.

“I just hope that they feel like that this is not about hatred for them or this is not about some big rally to shove anything in their face. This is about that we support marriage. It has nothing to do with not liking them,” Mr. Jennings said.

Meredith Somers contributed to this report.